COLWALL enjoys a lovely setting among woods, meadows and orchards on the west side of the Malvern Hills, which dominate the views from the parish. Most prominent of all from this aspect is Herefordshire Beacon, ringed by the ramparts and ditches of British Camp, the fort built by the Dobunni tribe between the fourth and second centuries BC.

Colwall is quite a large and scattered settlement, with the main centre of population around the station at Colwall Stone, about a mile from the original heart of the village, which lies to the west, by Cradley Brook. This is a picturesque place where the 13th-century church of St James stands next to a 16th-century, timber-framed building which was once the church alehouse. Many churches had their own alehouses at one time; it was one way to encourage attendance and to raise funds, and it also provided a venue for meetings to discuss parish affairs, but most church alehouses were converted into schools or almshouses during the Puritan years of the 17th century. Across the road stands Park Farm, an impressive timber-framed house built in 1630 on the site of a medieval hunting lodge used by the bishops of Hereford when visiting Malvern Chase.

The rapid growth of Colwall Stone began in 1861 with the opening of the Worcester-Hereford railway. One of the principal railway engineers was a local man, Stephen Ballard, and it was he who was responsible for the design of the tunnel which takes the railway under the Malvern Hills. The Ballard family was prominent in many other ways in Colwall, establishing various businesses, including a brickworks and a plant nursery.

They also harnessed the spring water, but in 1890 contracted their piped supply to Schweppes, who went on to develop the bottling plant which, at its peak, bottled 12 million litres of Malvern water annually, but which has now closed.

It seems fitting that one of Stephen Ballard’s descendants is commemorated by the dedication of the Charlie Ballard Nature Reserve next to the station. At the road junction near the station, by the post office, rests the original Colwall stone, a slightly underwhelming limestone boulder which, as the story goes, was hurled from the Malverns by the giant who lived up there in Clutter’s Cave.

Nearby Colwall Green also saw some development following the opening of the railway station, but it retained much more of its rural character, and there are magnificent lime avenues bordering the green.

Traditionally, Colwall was orchard country, although the fruit was intended for local consumption. The building of the railway, however, linked Colwall directly to new markets in Birmingham, Oxford and London. Stephen Ballard, farsighted as ever, planted another 350 acres of orchards in the parish. For almost a century, vast quantities of fruit were distributed from Colwall to distant destinations, until most of the orchards were bulldozed in the 1960s. Recently, there has been a revival of interest in orchards and many of the 42 remaining in and around Colwall are now being restored by the Colwall Orchard Group.

The first few miles of this walk coincide with the Geopark Way, which follows a ridge of Silurian limestone from Colwall Stone to Evendine. The guidebook to the Geopark Way is worth searching out as it’s full of fascinating detail about the complex geology of this area.

FACTFILE START Colwall station; ref SO755424.

LENGTH 4½ miles/7km.

MAPS OS Explorer 190, OS Landranger 150.

TERRAIN Meadows, pasture, paddocks, arable; no hills.

FOOTPATHS Mostly excellent.


PARKING Colwall.

PUBLIC TRANSPORT London Midland and FGW trains daily; or Aston’s 675 bus from Malvern, Mon-Sat; worcestershire. or 01905 765765, londonmidland.

com or 08457 484950.

REFRESHMENTS Colwall Stone and Colwall Green.

PLEASE NOTE This walk has been carefully checked and the directions are believed to be accurate at the time of publication.

No responsibility is accepted by eithertheauthororpublisherfor errors or omissions, or for any loss, accident or injury, however caused.

Worcester News recommends the use of OS Landranger Maps, your ideal passport to navigating the countryside.

This walk is based on OS Landranger 150.

DIRECTIONS 1 Cross the station footbridge and pass the Charlie Ballard Nature Reserve to enter a field where two paths are waymarked.

Take the left-hand one which goes due east towards the Malvern Hills. Turn right at the next junction, then immediately right again, heading south on a clear path (Geopark Way) which eventually meets a lane at Evendine.

2 Turn right, following the lane to Colwall Green, then turn right onto a lane running alongside the green.

After about 200m cut across the green, cross the road (B4218) and take a footpath to the left of a house.

Cross the railway and proceed roughly straight on towards a farm, Brockbury Hall.

3 Bear right before you reach the farmhouse, following a waymarked route round the farm and past the former moat.

Turn right along a track then turn left at a junction in a field corner. Keep straight on through fields and then along a driveway to Flapgate Lane at Colwall.

Turn right past the church to a road junction.

4 Take a track opposite, which leads to a fishery and a sewage works. Ignore branching paths.

After passing the sewage works bear right across a field to a stile and proceed across the next field to the far side.

Turn right and follow a well-used path for about threequarters of a mile, ignoring all branching paths, to meet a lane.

5 Turn right, then take the first path on the left. Follow it to a junction and turn right.

Follow a track to a street and take a path opposite, to the right of New Court Cottage.

Go straight ahead at another junction, along Acorn Close.

This leads to Stone Drive and the station is just to the left.