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Looking south from Worcester Beacon

Walks around the Malverns

Ideas, groups and resources for walking on the Malvern Hills and around the local area.

Also see

  • Refreshments on or near the Hills (pubs, cafes); accommodation.
  • Outdoor Links covers weather forecasts, maps, navigation tips etc.
  • Getting to Malvern includes information on the Hills Hopper bus service.
  • Malvern Interest page for attractions in Great Malvern, Malvern Wells etc.
  • Malvern Hills - conservation, springs and wells, geology trails, other points of interest.
  • Local woods, nature reserves worth a visit - see under Natural World.

Introduction

The Malvern Hills is a ridge running roughly north/south, to the west of Great Malvern. This makes it quite easy to work out roughly where you are, most of the time. Please see the Malvern Hills page for more information on features of the Hills, springs, geology etc.

The northern section is easily accessible from the centre of Great Malvern - as long as you don't mind some stiff climbing - passing the Red Lion pub (St Anns Road) and then either Green/Happy Valley or via St Ann's Well (with cafe). This is the quickest way up to Worcestershire Beacon, the highest point on the Hills (425m) with a toposcope showing a plan of what can be seen from there on a clear day. (The original brass plate is now kept in the Conservators offices, due to an earlier theft.)

Malvern Link train station is marginally closer to the Hills than Great Malvern station, and the roughly 20 minutes walk is more pleasant - exit via ticket office/Hereford-bound platform. Go first (south west) across Link Common and then up past the Nags Head pub. Along West Malvern Road* (over the Worcester Road and to the left or right, depending on which side of the Nags you took), there are choices of paths on to North Hill (or End Hill) with the one from North Malvern Quarries car park being the first you reach (a little beyond the shops on the right) and the easiest and most popular. Taking this, if you want to reach the higher level route rather than go down again towards to St Ann's Well, do a backwards turn to the right up the narrower path just before the large rock face (sometimes used for climbing practice - Ivy Scar Crag) - path is signed to North Hill, with a few sharp bends and rough surface in places. *Or rather than taking West Malvern Road, go further to the south (left along Worcester Road) and find the steps up just below the transmitter mast - see Quick Way to Beacon GPS route below.

The northern half of the Hills has the advantage of being easy to get off if you've had enough and difficult to get very lost on, but this also means that you are rarely completely away from traffic noise (or perhaps that from the show ground or, on Sunday afternoons, brass bands in Priory Park). From south of British Camp it gets a bit more secluded, the ridge spreads out and the right path is less obvious. You can get to British Camp and the area near by using the bus (Hills Hopper) in season - but at 2010 this service is currently suspended..

The area immediately around the car park at British Camp (Wynds Point) can be particularly busy, with the added attraction of a kiosk (drinks, ice creams, cakes etc) and hotel/pub providing a variety of food and drink. There is an easy access path starting from the car park just north of here (Black Hill) and of course the much steeper climb up British Camp itself.

There is some great walking country off the Hills too - we like to mix it up and do a bit of both, such as the Three Counties loop below. It is flatter to the east and south, with the Severn plain, while the countryside is fairly rolling both north and west of the Malverns.

Please follow the Countryside Code when out walking - see Natural England's information site on public access, under the rights of way legislation in England (the Code also applies in Wales).

Walking guides - leaflets, web

Electronic routes

As more people get hand-held or other portable GPS devices, MalvernTrail is getting in on the act and offering electronic files. We prefer Tracklogs software for recording routes, which allows extra features over the basic GPX (GPS Exchange) formats, e.g. alternative branches, but we will try to provide both. As usual, when following these please be sensible and wear appropriate clothing (especially footwear) and no warranties are given.

First up is Quick way to Beacon (Tracklogs) - right click on link to download, or GPX version. Malvern Link station to Worcestershire Beacon (highest point) and on to St Ann's Well cafe. Then a choice of going into town for a look around (e.g. Priory) or a drink, or down to Great Malvern station. About 4 miles to St Ann's Well.

At the southern end of the Hills, Three Counties loop (Tracklogs) - right click on link to download, or Three Counties in GPX. See on Google Earth map (you'll need to use your browser back button to return here). From Swinyard car park at top of Castlemorton Common (SO767381, with 'pay and display'- there are now bike racks here too - to Chase End Hill, via Duke of York pub and Castlemorton Pool. Varied terrain and views, 7.5miles, can be muddy in places. Public transport: There are one or two buses from Malvern (to Cheltenham?) which go along the main road on the edge of Castlemorton Common, or you could pick up the route at Hollybush (Hills Hopper and other Ledbury/Upton buses).

Walking routes on the web

To Worcester Beacon [pic]: Walking Britain Walk 1211.

CountryWalks for walking routes connected with the government's Countryside Stewardship scheme. At Oct 04, there's 5 in Herefordshire near Bromyard/Ledbury.

Walking Routes is a directory of sites with walking routes, maps, directions etc around the UK.

See Malvern Hills AONB and Conservators below for leaflets which are now downloadable.

Village websites may also have details of local walks, and will be mentioned on the Around page if we have spotted them. Here's one: Walk for Guarlford Parish, on the southern edge of Great Malvern.

Printed leaflets

Obtain the following leaflets and others detailing walks in the area from Tourist Info Centres (Malvern, Ledbury etc). Unfortunately as the Hills (in parts) form the county boundary between Herefordshire and Worcestershire they also create a barrier for the flow of material!

Worcs Way pearOne end of the Worcestershire Way is in Malvern (before 2004 it extended over the county boundary). The other end is in Bewdley 31 miles to the north, going via Knightwick (River Teme), Abberley Hills. There is an official Worcestershire Way Walkers' Guide from Worcs County Council. Buy from Amazon.co.uk (but note its not a stock item). The waymark is a pear in green.

Malvern Hills District Footpath Society has put together various walk details which are available from Malvern Tourist Info Centre and elsewhere.

Malvern Hills Trail Guides Five leaflets describing circular walks taking in sections of the Hills, plus an End to End one (15km and a thousand metres of climb if all peaks are included) and a town centre walk. Further details, including ordering, on Beautiful Malvern Hills web site.

Malvern Hills Conservators have a basic walking leaflet for the northern end of the Hills. Information Boards at car parks etc. give some more ideas and the content is downloadable from the web site (under Publications) - see our Hills page for more info. Also see for Sponsored Walks Guidelines.

If you want a serious hike, there's the Malvern Hills Challenge Walk. A total of 3,500 feet of ascent over 20 miles. Booklet from John Merrill Walk Guides. Our info was sourced via Long Distance Walkers Association - check out their Worcestershire Way links too.

For geology trails around Malvern, from Here &Worcs Earth Heritage Trust and BBC Walks Through Time, see our Hills Geology section.

Three Counties Agricultural Society has a leaflet, complete with trees guide, of a walk through Langdale Woodland, over the road from the Three Counties show ground.

Wildlife and Landscape Trail is a 13km (8 mile) circular walk in the Suckley Hills area, taking in three nature reserves, The Knapp & Papermill, Ravenshill Wood and Crews Hill Wood. Launched February 2007, the booklet should be available at local outlets. Probably best in spring or summer as can be very muddy. More details on Worcestershire Wildlife Trust website, who have produced this with the help of Malvern Hills AONB.

Country Walking magazine's web site has a route search, where you can buy details of walks (previously featured in the publication?). January 2005 print issue had an 8 page feature on the Malverns.

Malvern Hills AONB has published a series of walks.

The Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Discovery Walks can be downloaded as large pdf files. To save you half the bother, the following includes the bulk of the info from the cover pages, with permission. (Ordnance Survey Explorer Map 190 can be used for all.)

Getting to and from the walks

* The earliest train on Sunday to Colwall from Malvern (i.e. from the east) was about midday up to Dec. 2012 - there are now a few morning trains but other days are still better.

See Getting to Malvern for transport info.

Around

Herefordshire Council has produced various free leaflets as well as the Herefordshire Festival of Walking. Ones we have picked up (and for areas not far from Malvern) include Woolhope Dome, Mordiford Loop, Capler Loop.

Dymock Poets Paths - a couple of leaflets at 50p produced by Windcross Public Paths Group. (See Around the Area for Dymock background.)

The Severn Way Walking Experience website (currently, May 2012, 'down for maintenance') has a few walks from the printed guide produced by the Environment Agency, following the Severn from source to sea (in sections), and also a pubs and attractions finder for along the route.

The Herefordshire Trail is a long distance path using existing public rights of way to give a circular tour around the county and linking 5 market towns.

The Wye Valley Walk goes through Hereford, Mordiford and Ross on Wye.

Led Walks

See under Holidays below if you want some assistance in organising a walk.

Groups

Malvern Hills District Footpath Society (pic below) was originally set up to keep local paths open, but puts on a wide variety of walks throughout the year, Saturdays and mid-week.

MHDFS walking towards Nottingham HillMums up the Malverns is an informal mid-week group of locals. Dads welcome too. See their Routes page for some tips on baby/toddler facilities available at popular starting points.

Forest of Dean Ramblers Association Site includes details of current programme, generally in and around the Forest. See national site (below) for walks directory for all groups.

Tewkesbury Walking Club.

Worcester Rambling Club.

Herefordshire Ramblers Association - taking in Hereford, Ross, Mortimer (Leominster) and Leadon Vale (Ledbury) groups.

Mainly (but not exclusively) for those in their 20s and 30s: the very active and large West Midlands Walking Group, also the Gloucestershire Walking Group of Ramblers.

Also see Worcsestershire Walking Groups list from Walking in England.

Other Walks

Malvern Walking Festival in spring. 2014: 24th May to 1st June. Booking fee of £3 per walk per adult (at 2014), plus some involve transport costs. Organisers include the Malvern Hills Conservators. Tourist Information: 01684 892289.

The Civic Society leads Town Walks through Victorian Malvern during the summer months. Saturday mornings starting from Tourist Information Centre, where you can get tickets and further info.

Herefordshire Festival of Walking An annual event taking place in June. 2012: 16th to 24th. Most need to be booked in advance.

Ross-on-Wye Walking Festival In 2014, weekend of 26th to 28th September.

Bishop's Castle Walking Festival, early June (2014: 10th - 12th), is a bit further afield in south Shropshire.

Tenbury Wells and Teme Valley Walking Weekend. Not sure whether this is now in May or October. Phone 01584 810136 (tourist info centre) or see Tenbury Wells info site.

Ramblers Association website has a Local Walks locator. Worcester, Leadon Vale, Gloucester, Mortimer and Forest of Dean groups are likely to have some in the area.

Guided Walking Tours of Hereford. City walks May to September.

Nordic Walking

Kdence Nordic Walking Developing a variety of walking options, such as free taster sessions, a four week Learn to Nordic Walk course and guided walks in and around Ledbury, Eastnor, Wellington Heath, Colwall, Malvern Hills and the surrounding villages. Contact Kate on 07977 593211 or kdawe@gmx.co.uk

Guide Books

Walks around The Malverns (second edition, 2005) Roy Woodcock, Meridian Books, ISBN 1-869922-53-0. Buy from Amazon, with some delay.

A Pictorial Guide to The Malvern Hills by Carl Flint, self-published as Malvern Walks, August 2010, ISBN 978 0 9566295 0 0. Buy from Beacon Books, £7-95. In the style of Wainwright Walks, the first of a planned series of four starts with two walks for North Malvern, West Malvern and Malvern Link. See review below. A second one, with walks around town, is also now out.

Pub Walks coverPub Walks in the Malvern Hills (June 03), local author Roy Woodcock with 20 circular routes of 1 to 7 miles, starting at country pubs in the area. ISBN 1-85306-788-1, £6-95 (unlikely to be available at Amazon); Village Walks In Worcestershire, Worcestershire Teashop Walks all from Countryside Books - see Publishers.

Pocket Pub Walks Herefordshire (spring 2007) Roy Woodcock. ISBN 1 85306 9817, £4-99. Buy from Amazon.co.uk. A collection of fifteen circular walks each based on a local pub serving good food. Includes routes near Kington, Leominster, Ledbury, Hereford and Goodrich. You can also download individual walks from publishers Countryside Books website.

The Herefordshire Trail Hereford Group of Ramblers Association, spring 05. ISBN 1 901184 73 0, £5-95. A well produced guide to a 150 miles circular walking trail visiting all of the market towns of the county, many villages and lots of wonderful countryside. See Herefordshire Trail web site for ordering details and more, or try Amazon.co.uk.

Hereford and the Wye Valley A walker's guide to The Malverns, Herefordshire & The Forest of Dean (1993). Walk length ranges from one mile to fourteen. Cicerone, 7.99, ISBN 1 85284 124 9. No longer avalaible new from Amazon.co.uk.

Literary Strolls - click to buy Literary Strolls Around the Cotswolds and The Forest of Dean Sigma Leisure; ISBN: 185058687X. Buy from Amazon.co.uk.

The Three Choirs Way: Gloucester - Worcester - Hereford, Countryside Matters - see Publishers or try Amazon (used).

A Year of Walks: Wye Valley Sigma Press, £7.95, ISBN 1 85058 744 2. Try Amazon.co.uk.

100 Walks in Hereford and Worcester Crowood Press £7.99, ISBN 1852237856.

Discovery Walks in Worcestershire (2000) 30 walks while stepping into the county's past. Sigma Leisure, ISBN 185058706X. Used only from Amazon.co.uk?

Discover the Wye Valley on Foot and by Bus Published annually (Easter), includes bus timetables. 50p incl p&p (cheques to Herefordshire Council) from Wye Valley AONB Office, Hadnock Road, Monmouth, Monmouthshire, NP25 3NG.

From the Wye to the Thames 14 countryside walks making use of train services on the Hereford-Worcester-Oxford line - out-of-print at Jan. 2014. From Thames to the Wye (pub. 2009) should still be available. Published by Cotswold Line Promotion Group.

Holidays

MalvernTrail may be able to help with planning walks and more. Please use contact details on About Us page if you are interested.

Wycheway Country Walks, based in Malvern, looks like it has closed - did run 'gentle walking holidays' in the Malvern Hills area, Wye Valley, Worcestershire and elsewhere, including some themed on Elgar or Battle of Worcester.

Walk Herefordshire is based in Leominster but runs walking breaks around the county.

There are some more walking holidays listed on the Further afield page which might stray into Malvern territory too.

Reviews

A Pictorial Guide to The Malvern Hills

by Carl Flint, published by Malvern Walks, August 2010, £7-95. Sub-titled "an illustrated study and exploration of the Malvern Hills".

A little different from your usual book of walking routes, this takes its inspiration from the well-known Wainwright guides with a wealth of background information and hand-drawn illustrations. In this case most of the illustrations are photographs processed to look like line drawings, with varying success, and for that matter interest. However they are generally useful, giving visual clues for use en route and to whet the appetite for the walk, and overall make the book attractive.

I have limited experience of the original Wainwright books (best known for his love of the Lake District) but they have a bit of the 'marmite' about them - you love them or hate them (or perhaps would rather have a simple step-by-step guide with more walks for your money), and the same may apply here. Personally I'd read through the route beforehand with all its description of history, views, and extra details, as well as having the Pictorial Guide to hand on the walk. I'd also take a good map (such as the Harvey one mentioned in the extensive introduction), especially to help with the eight digit grid references. The paperback size does fit in the (walking jacket) pocket better than the Wainwrights I've seen.

The first of a planned four going clockwise around the Malverns, Book One has two walks, both rather different from the normal take of "point A to point B on the Malvern Hills following a tightly defined path". As well as paths on the Hills and surrounding fields, the walks take in notable buildings and features in West and North Malvern and Malvern Link that you would otherwise just pass by without a second thought, or not notice. Some options for route embellishment are also given.

Author Carl moved here about the same time as your reviewer (2001), and his enthusiasm for the area shines through, with the added advantage of having children to act as guinea pigs. Its certainly not his fault that things can change rapidly, such as the demise of the Hills Hopper bus, but I can't help feeling that listing suggested places to eat (or drink) is a hostage to the vagaries of modern times - plans to have an accompanying website for updates and comments from users will help. (The site is not up and running at August 2010 - we'll give a link when it is.)

All in all visitors wanting to get the most out of walking in this area will find this a good buy. Online purchases expected to be via the website - in the meantime email info@malvernwalks.co.uk

The Malvern Hills double CD

"Audio journey" from Walking Audio, £12-99 (May 07).

These professionally produced CDs are the first in a series to popular walking destinations in Britain - others planned for the Yorkshire Dales, Peak District, Cornish Coast etc. The two CDs are broken down into multiple tracks so you can locate particular sections quite easily, and come with a booklet giving track listings, grid references and a little more detail on the walks and where to go for more information (try MalvernTrail!).

Producer Peter Nash is based in Malvern and clearly passionate about the area. As well as him and fellow walking guide Ashley Cavers going for walks with local experts along the length of the Hills, there are short tours around Malvern Water bottling plant in Colwall, the Morgan car factory in Malvern Link, Elgar's Birthplace Museum in Lower Broadheath, Eastnor Castle and Malvern Priory. There's good background on the development of Malvern in Victorian times based around the water cure and if you listen to the whole soundtrack you might spot disagreement about whether there are more springs on the east or west side of the Hills!

This package probably works best as an introduction to the area for those intending to visit on holiday, or even move here. There's one or two items I hadn't come across in my 5+ years enjoying the Malverns, and the various walking companions, from the director of the Conservators to the director of the Dowsers society cover a range of interests and different sections of the Hills. I'd have liked to see have seen more on the geology though, with most references being about how the water "with nothing in it" is down to the rock composition - see our Geology info section for why the Hills structure is in fact much more interesting. The varied geology is also part of why there is a unique variety of habitats on and around the Hills, attracting particular flora and fauna, some of it fairly rare.

While taking the audio along on a walk (as a CD or ripped to MP3 etc) could work, you'd need to be an experienced walker with a good map (see our Maps info section) to follow the routes taken by the walking guides - the booklet does help. The audio guides can jump quite long distances in places, plus some of the routes are harder work than they may sound (I've had walking friends grumble loudly when tackling the suggested approach to Ragged Stone Hill). In all, worth having and dipping in for particular bits, but get a decent map and/or some of the leaflets mentioned on MalvernTrail too.