THE focal point of this walk is the village of Ripple, the old centre of which is tiny and charming. Looking at it today, it’s hard to believe it was once a stopping point on the stagecoach route from Birmingham to Gloucester.
It was later served by a station on the Malvern to Tewkesbury railway but that was closed in the 1960s. Ripple may now seem remote and obscure but St Mary’s Church is renowned for its 15thcentury misericords, which are said to be among the finest in England.
A misericord is a small wooden shelf under a folding seat, installed to provide some comfort for monks standing through long periods of prayer.
The Ripple misericords feature detailed and entertaining carvings of scenes from rural life, as well as the sun and the moon.
The church also has a display of beautiful facsimile editions of illustrated books owned by Henry VIII.
They were produced by the Folio Society in 2009 to mark the 500th anniversary of Henry’s accession and donated to St Mary’s by a local resident.
Start: Upton-upon-Severn, grid ref SO851407.
Length: Nine miles/14.5km.
Maps: OS Explorer 190, OS Landranger 150.
Terrain: Pasture, paddock, orchard, arable. Mostly flat.
Footpaths: Mostly excellent but a few have been cropped over or are neglected, with wobbly stiles and poor waymarking.
Buses: First 363/364 Worcester- Malvern via Upton, Mon-Sat only; worcestershire.gov.uk/ bustimetables or 01905 765765.
Refreshments: Upton, Ripple and Ryall.
1 Cross Upton Bridge and turn right on a bridleway leading to a picnic place. Turn left, then right, joining a footpath by Bridge End Cottage. Follow it past the marina and on to Ryall. Turn left along a street (Ryall Meadow), then shortly turn right on another footpath. It’s waymarked and easily followed to a junction, where you turn right.
Walk through paddocks then join a track, passing to the left of a barn.
Ignore another path branching left and keep straight on to pass through a quarry. The path is easily followed until you come to an unsigned junction. Turn right here.
After about 200m, an easily missed waymark directs you left.
2 Arriving at a junction, go diagonally to the far right corner of a field. Climb over a wobbly fence and turn left along a farm track at Saxon’s Lode, looking for a path on the right at an overgrown stile.
Walk along a field edge, past a pool.
Continue past a gate until you come to a stile a little further on, then go diagonally across a meadow to the far right corner. Cross two more large meadows to find a footbridge giving access to an even larger one.
This is Uckinghall Meadow and it’s access land so you can walk wherever you like – by the river, for instance. Whichever route you take, you should end up at the far right corner, by Ferryman’s
3 Pass to the right of the cottage, walking beside the river. Once you’ve passed a pool and another house, turn left across a field. There is no signage and no path has been made, but the route is diagonally across to a gap in the trees at the far side. After that the path is easily followed across three more fields to a lane. Turn left, then first right to Ripple. Go straight on at a junction, towards the old village centre. Visit the church then return to the lane and turn right.
4 Take the third path on the left, soon after crossing Ripple Brook. Go to the top right corner of a sloping field then follow the waymarked route across more fields, eventually turning right by a water trough. Proceed to the A38 and cross to a bridleway opposite which leads to Brockeridge Common. This is access land so you can explore freely, but for the purposes of this walk, the most direct route is the bridleway by the left-hand edge. About 200m short of the far corner, go through a metal gate into a field. Bear right towards a wood, Ley Coppice, pass to the left of it and keep straight on at a junction, along a slight ridge. In the final field, head towards a farm, aiming just to the right of the house. The path is easily followed through the property to a lane.
5 Turn right on Cycleway 45, to Hill Croome. Take a footpath up to St Mary’s Church then go diagonally downhill from the tower to return to the lane. The path continues opposite. Go diagonally right across a field, aiming for a large oak tree, well to the left of a farmhouse. Continue towards the hedge, where there are two waymarks. Turn left, soon joining a track which leads through a gap in the field edge ahead. Bear slightly left in the next field, moving gradually away from the trees on your right. Pass through a patch of rushes and thistles, then head for the far left field corner. Continue in a similar direction in the next field, to a bridge in a line of five trees. Go diagonally across the next field to a gate in a corner. Cross a footbridge and proceed to a lane. Turn right.
6 Turn right on a farm driveway (there’s no signage), go through the farmyard and keep straight on to enter woodland. Cross a footbridge and turn left on a path which is easily followed to Ryall.
Turn right along a street, then right again at a T-junction. Cross the A38 to a path a short distance to the left.
Walk through an orchard to the top left corner and turn left through paddocks to meet a road. Go along Ryall Meadow opposite to find the riverside path which leads back to Upton-upon-Severn.