MOST of this beautiful walk is on access land so you can vary the route to suit your own requirements. It includes a short, steep climb to the top of Midsummer Hill, where twin tops are enclosed by the earthen ramparts of a 30-acre Iron Age hillfort.
The ramparts were originally faced with stone revetments, traces of which are still visible in places. Excavations in the 1960s revealed that wooden huts once stood within the ramparts and as many as 1,500 people may have lived there.
Malvern Hills Conservators are currently overseeing a programme of tree felling on Midsummer Hill.
It may look brutal, but the Conservators say it’s to preserve the ramparts from root damage, to improve the habitat for wild flowers and to increase the open space available for public use.
Start: Coombe Green, on B4208 south of Welland; grid ref SO780366.
Length: Seven miles/11.2km.
Maps: OS Explorer 190, OS Landranger 150.
Terrain: Commons, pasture, woodland; mostly flat but with a few slopes.
Footpaths: Excellent, except that the path past Mill Farm is obstructed by electric fencing. It’s currently easy to find a way round but that could change.
Parking: Coombegreen Common, either near the Birtsmorton turn or at Hollybush (the walk is described from the Birtsmorton turn).
Public transport: LMS 377, Malvern Link-Cheltenham via Coombe Green, just one return journey, on Saturdays only – take First 44 or a train to connect with the 377’s 8.05am departure from Malvern Link Co-op; alternatively, if you don’t mind a slightly longer walk, First 362/363 Worcester-Malvern services operate half-hourly on weekdays to Welland, near the northern end of Castlemorton Common; worcestershire.gov.uk or 01905 765765.
Refreshments: None on the actual route, but there is a seasonal snack kiosk at nearby Gullet Quarry.
1 Looking south across the common you’ll see a slight ridge topped by a row of three trees. A clear track runs up the side of the ridge. Join this track and once on the ridge-top, head towards the Malvern Hills.
Eventually, having passed a church, you’ll have to join the A438 near Hollybush. Walk westwards along the road for 400m then turn right at a crossroad and follow a lane past Hollybush Roughs and Midsummer Hill. When you come to a parking area take a path which climbs the hill. It heads south at first before swinging north to cross the lower summit and then proceeding to the main summit.
2 Walk north from the summit on a well-trodden path which soon descends and then bends left to lead to a track along the edge of Eastnor Park. Turn right and after about 300m you’ll come to a cattle grid. Don’t cross it but turn right past a pair of metal gates. Stay on the main path, ignoring another path branching left at a stile. When you come to another cattle grid and a pair of gates, go through the right-hand gate (waymarked as the Three Choirs Way) and turn right to climb to the top of Swinyard Hill. Turn left.
3 Turn right at a junction signed to Castlemorton and Pink Cottage, then turn left on a rising path by Pink Cottage. Turn right at another junction, then immediately left, descending into woodland. Go to the bottom of Hangman’s Hill and head north on a bridleway just below the trees.
When you meet another bridleway, near the bottom of Tinker’s Hill, turn right, descending beside a stone wall, then go straight across a field on a terraced path. Meeting another bridleway by a yew tree, turn right, passing Underhills Farm. Follow the bridleway into a field then turn left on a footpath by the left edge.
4 As you approach the bottom corner of the field, go to the right of a holly tree and through a gate onto Castlemorton Common.
The common is only the width of a track at first but it soon opens out.
Go to the right when it does so and stay close to the right-hand edge, or at least keep it in sight. After about half-a-mile you’ll come to a corner where the common stretches away to the right, all the way to Swinyard Hill. Leave the edge here, going straight on to meet a road near a junction, where another road descends into a valley. Go straight downhill to the right of this road, then join the road and continue straight on, passing to the right of Sherwood Cottage. Turn left at a T-junction after Woodgate Cottage then take a path on the right by Mouchers Corner.
5 Walk along the right-hand field edge to a junction. Turn left and cross the field to a gate at the far side. Continue in the same direction across three more fields then proceed along a green lane.
Approaching the B4208, take a path on the right, just before a farm.
Cross three fields to Hollybed Street and turn left. Turn left again by the B4208 then cross to a footpath opposite Masons Farm.
Turn right through a paddock inhabited by free-range chickens and shire horses and walk to a footbridge. Cross into the next paddock and go diagonally left to a gate in the far corner. Cross a track and go through a metal gate into a long, narrow paddock. Go to the far left corner. Well, that’s the theory; in reality, however, you may find electric fencing barring your way.
At the time of writing, it’s possible to get round this by turning right along the track instead and then entering the paddock at the next gate. Leaving the paddock in the far corner, turn right and climb over a barrier to meet the road at Coombe Green. Turn left to return to your starting point.