THIS is a short but quite hilly walk which explores the woods covering Abberley Hill.

Although most of the route is in woodland it is nonetheless full of variety as there are several different types of woodland habitat on the hill.

For instance, there are places where sycamore is the dominant tree, while elsewhere there are groups of ancient wild cherries.

Areas of rather dull plantation on the higher slopes contrast sharply with the lower parts of the northern slope where rampant bracken competes with a relatively light scattering of trees, including hazel and hawthorn.

Individual veteran trees are dotted throughout the woods and include oak, ash, small-leaved lime and yew, with the latter occurring mainly beside the ridge-top path, leading to speculation that they may have been planted as way markers or boundary markers. Thin, dry soils on some of the steeper slopes support only a sparse ground cover of spring flowers such as dog’s mercury, while damper areas on the springline support golden saxifrage and lesser celandine and are lushly carpeted with ferns and mosses in all seasons.

Bluebells flower profusely over much of the hill, while other spring species to look out for include primrose, early purple orchid and violet, including the relatively scarce white variety.

A fairly diverse range of wildlife is resident on the hill, including roe deer, which you are more likely to see at the northern end, near Shavers End Quarry, where there are usually fewer people and dogs to disturb them.

Birds are generally more in evidence than mammals, and you are likely to see several of the commoner woodland species.

Buzzards are frequent, while red kites and short-eared owls have also been recorded.

For much of the walk you will be following the Worcestershire Way, the Geopark Way and the Abberley Circular Walk – sometimes just one of them, sometimes two but mostly all three at the same time, as they coincide for long distances.

Where this is the case, only the Worcestershire Way is mentioned in the route description (except for point one), to save words and avoid confusion. The Way is abundantly waymarked, which makes this a very easy walk to follow.

FACTFILE START: The Hundred House Hotel, on the A443 at Great Witley, grid ref SO751661.

LENGTH: 5¼ miles/8.5km.

MAPS: OS Explorer 204, OS Landranger 138.

TERRAIN: Mostly woodland, with a few fields, mainly pasture; hilly throughout and steep in places, especially on the descents.

FOOTPATHS: Mostly excellent. There are gaps in waymarking and some discrepancies between paths on the map and paths on the ground, but nothing to cause any real difficulties while on this walk.

STILES: Three.

PARKING: There is some space by the phone box, or you could ask for permission to park at the Hundred House.

PUBLIC TRANSPORT: Yarrantons’ 758 Worcester- Tenbury service stops at the Hundred House, Mon-Sat; visit bustimetables or call 01905 765765.

REFRESHMENTS: Hundred House Hotel and village shops at Great Witley.

ORDNANCE SURVEY Worcester News recommends the use of OS Landranger Maps, your ideal passport to navigating the countryside. This walk is based on OS Landranger 138.

DIRECTIONS 1 Take a footpath leaving the road to the left of the Hundred House.

Walk to a junction at a hedge corner then take the righthand path, which runs up the field, close to the hedge, to a gate at the top.

Proceed through a second field and into woodland.

Climb to a waymarked junction and turn right.

The path undulates gently round the hillside before a brief climb takes you to the top, where you turn right on the combined Worcestershire Way, Geopark Way and Abberley Circular Walk.

2 Take a waymarked path descending steeply to the right and follow it to a junction with a bridleway at the bottom of the steep part of the slope.

Follow the bridleway back uphill, going straight on at any junctions which lack waymarking.

Arriving at a five-ways junction (six-ways, according to the map, but one path has disappeared), turn right to rejoin the Worcestershire Way, which runs along the crest of the ridge before descending, steeply at first, past Shavers End Quarry.

3 Turn left along a lane, then soon left again at a flight of steps, on a footpath which climbs back into the woods.

The path divides at the top of the steps and there’s no waymarking, but keep straight on so that before very long you’re walking more or less along the crest of the ridge.

Go straight on at all junctions to return to the five-ways junction mentioned in point two above.

Turn right downhill, soon passing through a small gate and continuing down to a junction at a large gate.

Don’t go through this gate but turn left on a grassy path cutting a bright-green swathe through the dry, brown fronds of last year’s bracken.

Proceed along the edge of a wood then straight on along a track to pass to the right of Abberley Cottage.

4 Walk along the driveway to join a lane then take either the first or second path on the left; they’re close together but the gradient is gentler on the second one and there’s no stile to cross.

Either way, go through a field to a white gate, cross a driveway then walk along the lower edge of a lawn to find access to the woods again.

Climb gently uphill to rejoin the Worcestershire Way and turn right.

Follow it to a lane, Wynniattes Way.

5 Turn left, then take the first footpath on the left at Hill Farm.

Follow it through a large field to meet an access track.

Turn right downhill until you can take a path on the left, which begins with a flight of steps.

Pass Yew Tree Cottage and then go straight on at a junction.

Descend almost to the road then take a path on the left signed to Great Witley.

Follow it through woodland then across two fields to the Hundred House.