Malvern Hills walks

Information and ideas for walking on the Malvern Hills, and around the local area.

Walking in the wider Malvern area – leaflets, websites, holidays, walking groups, festivals now have a separate page (Jan. 2017).

Also see


Introduction

There is a wide variety of walks to be had on the Malvern Hills, from short and gently graded slopes to more strenuous options such as ‘end to end’. The backbone of the Hills themselves 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. There are paths along most of the ridge and just below too.

It is wide open on and near the ridge line – often good views but also windy. The lower slopes are more wooded, with good bluebell displays in season particularly on the west near Evendine spring – tracks more likely to get muddy in the winter.

Note that most of the direction signs on the hills (rather than leading to them) are low to the ground, in stone – and only at some main path junctions. Can be easy to miss.

The two most popular destinations

  • British Camp (Herefordshire Beacon) with major earthworks to explore,  plus refreshments and bus route.
  • Worcester Beacon is the highest point, a fairly short hike from the town centre.

See our page about the particular points of interest on the Hills, plus geology, springs, conservation, history.

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.

Worcestershire Beacon and north

The northern section of the hills 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 Ann’s Road) and then either continue up Green/Happy Valley (rough stony track after a while) or off to the left via St Ann’s Well (with cafe and smoother surface). 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.

Malvern Link train station is marginally closer to the Hills than Great Malvern station, and the roughly 20 minutes walk is more pleasant.

Exit off either platform towards the main road and cross it. Go south west across Link Common (heading towards the Hills) and then up past the Nags Head pub.

Go over the Worcester Road and then to the left or right, depending on which side of the Nags you took, in to West Malvern Road *. Along here, there are choices of paths on to North Hill (or End Hill). The one from North Malvern Quarries car park is 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). This path is signed to North Hill, and has a few sharp bends plus rough surface in places, and in snowy conditions watch out for ice.

* Alternative – 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 brass bands in Priory Park on summer Sunday afternoons ).

British Camp and south

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 nearby using the bus.

The area immediately around the car park at British Camp (Wynds Point) can be particularly busy – see our refreshments info. There is an easy access path starting from the car park just north of here (Black Hill), a little beyond the hotel. There is more than one way to tackle the steeper climb up British Camp itself – choose either of two paths off the car park nearest the road, with the third path, furthest away and starting off flatter, heading to the reservoir and below.

MalvernTrail’s favourite approach is taking the second path, then bear left to go along a fairly level track above the reservoir (with several benches). At the end, find the pointer to Giants Cave, a quick visit and then come back a short distance to tackle the steps up to the hill top ramparts. Down the other side towards refreshments! Children may  be eager to go the other way round.

Hollybush is quite a good place to start an ‘end to end’ walk – not quite at one end but a loop there and back is worthwhile. With luck, you can get there by bus – parking space is limited.

We’ve encountered a few people doing British Camp to Worcester Beacon, and back, as a fairly strenuous alternative. Take care in crossing the road at Wyche Cutting (junction and blind bend) – going north follow the small road going to the car park (where there is a track option to the right). Why not warm up with the lower paths in one direction and hit the peaks coming back? MalvernTrail, based in Malvern Link, likes doing this but the other way round.

Easy and assisted access

See Black Hill under British Camp above for the best easy access path. There is also one to Earnslaw Quarry but its not as interesting – path surface was redone late 2016 (it may deteriorate after a couple of years).

An all-terrain mobility scooter (Tramper) is available for hire from Cafe H2O at the Malvern Hills GeoCentre, just along from Wyche Cutting. There is a path with excellent surface up to Worcester Beacon, although you need to negotiate a slightly tricky road junction first.

The volunteer-run Malvern Hills Access Partnership aims to provide access for everyone, regardless of their ability. See Malvern Rotary Events website (may not work in all web browsers) for how to apply for the very occasional Land Rover access.

Considerate and safe walking

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). Sheep and cattle graze the hills (part of the conservation strategy), with temporary electric fences and gates for path access. The Stockwatch info – a box on the Conservators website front page – should give you an idea of where they are currently, although this can take a day or two to reflect flock movements.

Malverns Guide Books

Walks around The Malverns (third edition 2013) Roy Woodcock, Meridian Books, ISBN 1-869922-53-0, £8-99. Buy from Amazon.

A Pictorial Guide to The Malvern Hills – series by Carl Flint in the style of Wainwright Walks, self-publishing as Malvern Walks. Click on the book number links for more info and to order direct – prices include second class UK mainland postage.

  • Book 1: Walks for North Malvern, West Malvern and Malvern Link. See review below.  £7-95, published 2010, ISBN 978 0956629500.
  • Book 2: Walks for the town centre. £8-50, 2010, ISBN 978 0956629517.
  • Book 3: Malvern Wells, Welland, Little Malvern, British Camp, Castlemorton Common, Hollybush, White Leafed Oak. £7-95, 2012, ISBN 978 0956629524.
  • Book 4: Colwall, Storridge, End to End, Worcestershire Way (part). £7-95, 2014, ISBN 978 0956629531.
  • A Ledbury edition is due in 2017.

Titles also available over the counter from Malvern Book Coop, 2 St Ann’s Road.

A Boot up the Malvern Hills (2014) Roger Redfern, Pixz Books, £4-99. Ten walks. Amazon.co.uk.

Walk! Around the Malverns (2011), Bob Greaves, Discovery Walking Guides, £12-99. Thirty walks, ranging from gentle riverside strolls to a strenuous hike along the total length of the hills. From Amazon.co.uk.

Pub 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 (Amazon may have the odd copy). Also from Countryside Books: Village Walks In WorcestershireWorcestershire Teashop Walks – see Publishers.

Walk 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. 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 (Ledbury/Upton buses).

Walking routes on the web

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

Highways Heritage Walks , put together by Milestone Society, has ‘Malvern – putting a spring in your step‘, visiting milestones and other roadside features.

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.

The printed leaflets listed below may also be downloadable, such as Malvern Hills AONB and Conservators, or even moved fully online.

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!

Malvern Hills District Footpath Society has put together various walk details which should be available from Malvern Tourist Info Centre and elsewhere. One or two of their ‘adopted walks‘ may be available to download.

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. May no longer be available (at spring 2015) – ordering was from defunct Beautiful Malvern Hills website.

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.

Malvern Hills AONB has published a series of walks. These Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Discovery Walks can be downloaded as large pdf files. We’ve saved you half the bother of downloading these to work out which to choose by extracting the bulk of the background info on points of interest etc. See the AONB Discovery Walks page.

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.

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.

Getting to and from the walks

There are now a few Sunday morning trains to Colwall from Malvern, from the east (they started midday before 2013). Other days are still better.

For those coming by car, check the Conservators’ Parking page.

See Getting to Malvern for transport info.

Walks in town

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

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.

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.

All in all visitors wanting to get the most out of walking in this area will find this a good buy. Order Book 1 direct from the author, or browse Malvern Walks website.

Comments welcome

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