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British Camp - Malvern Hills
THE large area of access land available to the public in the Malvern Hills is complemented by Eastnor Park, just to the west, where there is further public access.
There’s no actual right of access (except on public rights of way, which are scarce here) but the Hervey-Bathurst family allows permissive access to the deer park and also to an ancient track known as the Ridgeway.
Do note, however, that access is occasionally withdrawn when Eastnor Park is closed for special events.
The Ridgeway is a woodland track, but breaks in the trees allow glimpses of the surrounding countryside, which fully illustrate how it got its name.
It’s just the sort of ridge-top route favoured by prehistoric traders and may have formed part of a saltway from Droitwich to South Wales.
It’s a great way to approach the beautiful deer park, where the walker is rewarded with wild flowers, ancient trees, sparkling lakes, panoramic views and occasional glimpses of red deer.
Towards the end of the walk, arriving at the spectacular hillfort on Herefordshire Beacon, you can enjoy looking back at almost the entire route you’ve just covered, from Hatfield Coppice to News Wood, via the Ridgeway, the lakes and the obelisk, against the backdrop of the Welsh mountains.
Start: Malvern Hills Hotel below British Camp (Herefordshire Beacon) at junction of A449 and B4232; grid ref SO763404.
Length: Six miles/9.5km.
Maps: OS Explorer 190, OS Landranger 150.
Terrain: Pasture, parkland and woodland; moderately hilly.
Footpaths: Excellent, except for some poor waymarking in the first half-mile.
Parking: British Camp Car Park.
Public transport: 44B runs direct from Worcester to British Camp on summer Sundays and bank holidays; on weekdays, go by train or bus (44/362/363) to Great Malvern then get the 675 to British Camp, or get off the 363 at Little Malvern, from where it’s only a very short walk to British Camp; worcestershire.gov.uk/ bustimetables or 01905 765765.
Refreshments: Malvern Hills Hotel and snack kiosk at British Camp.
1 Walk towards the toilet block which is situated across the road from the hotel, but before you reach it turn left on a path leading into trees. A stile soon gives access to a lovely path through woods carpeted with wild garlic. On leaving the woods, proceed through more open country to reach a fingerpost indicating British Camp Car Park. Turn left here on an unsigned but welltrodden path, climbing slightly for a few paces to meet an unsigned track. Turn left and then, after only a few metres, fork right.
Proceed to a junction by the edge of a wood (Hatfield Coppice) and turn right.
2 At an excellent viewpoint, cross a stile into a large field. The waymark points straight down, which is slightly misleading. Look carefully and you’ll see there are three stiles in the field boundary.
Ultimately, you want the one over to the left but the path does not go directly to it. For the correct route, descend to a stile in line with a farmhouse (Oldcastle Farm), at the point where trees give way to fencing. Cross this stile then turn left along a track to another stile.
Return to the field and head uphill to the third stile in the fence on your right. Climb through another field, keeping to the top of a slight ridge, to meet the A449.
3 Cross the road and take a ‘private road’ (a track) opposite, which leads to Eastnor Castle.
Ignore two left turns and keep to the main track, which swings to the right at the next junction, about 500m from the A449. Keep straight on at all subsequent junctions, always staying on the main track and eventually passing Park Lodge to enter Eastnor Park.
Continue along the track for a further 300m, until you see the Geopark Way signed on the right, at a deer gate. This is your cue to turn left. You can see the obelisk across the valley and this is the point to aim for.
4 Descend to pass between two lakes then keep to the left of a brook as you start to climb across grassland towards the well-defined track which will take you up to the obelisk. Pass the obelisk and continue along the track, soon leaving the park at a cattle grid.
Turn left past two adjoining metal gates and walk along a wide, rutted track. Don’t go to Peacock Villa or take a footpath branching left.
After crossing another cattle grid keep straight on, ignoring a waymarked path on the right (unless you want to go up on to the hills). Ignore subsequent unsigned paths and tracks branching off the main one.
5 Climb a waymarked stile on the right, leaving the track for a woodland path. Follow it as far as a house and then decide which way you want to go. The path you’re on leads directly to the road, and if you cross the road, then go a little way to the left, you’ll find a path descending through Hatfield Coppice to rejoin your outward route. That’s the easier choice, and it’s very pleasant. However, a more memorable route can be enjoyed if you’re up for a steep climb (it’s very brief, no more than 100m or so). To find it, look for a path on the right just after you pass the house. It’s only lightly trodden and may become harder to spot as the vegetation continues to grow, but it’s reasonably clear at the moment. You can go up at any point, of course, but it’s easier here. Climb to the lower ramparts of British Camp and go to the left on an excellent path which, all too soon, leads to the main path down to the road at Malvern Hills Hotel.