Malvern Hills

  • South from below Worcestershire Beacon - © William Mackesy
  • Looking west, rain shower - © William Mackesy
  • North across North Hill from Worcestershire Beacon, rain shower - © William Mackesy
  • North along eastern slopes below Worcerstershire Beacon - © William Mackesy
  • South from below Worcestershire Beacon, 1 May, pretty showery day - © William Mackesy
  • Above St Anne"s Well - © William Mackesy
  • British Camp  from Worcestershire Beacon - © William Mackesy
  • Colours, looking south, 1 May, pretty showery day - © William Mackesy
  • Eastern slopes, above Malvern 2 - © William Mackesy
  • Eastern slopes, above Malvern  - © William Mackesy
  • © William Mackesy
  • © William Mackesy
  • © William Mackesy
  • Looking west, rain shower 2 - © William Mackesy
  • West over The Dingle - © William Mackesy

Key information: Malvern Hills

  • Fine walking on this peculiar, atmospheric, historic, high, narrow ridge. Lovely, gentle views for miles around.

Walkopedia rating

  • Walkopedia rating86
  • Beauty29
  • Natural interest14
  • Human interest15
  • Charisma30
  • Negative points2
  • Total rating86
  • Note: Negs: Popularity, you won't be alone.

Vital Statistics

  • Length: Your choice
  • Maximum Altitude: 425m
  • Level of Difficulty: Variable
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North along eastern slopes below Worcerstershire Beacon - © William Mackesy

WALK SUMMARY

This peculiar 10 mile (16km) long ridge separates Herefordshire and Worcestershire in western England. To the west are the low hills of Herefordshire, beyond them the high ridges of the Welsh borders, the Black Mountains in particular. To the east, the plain of the Severn Valley, the Garden of England, with the Cotswold escarpment behind them.

On any day, the views are very good, but on a clear one, or a bright, showery one, they are outstanding. While the eastern slopes are (not unpleasantly) urban, the further views are magical.

The Hills are a complex assemblage of relatively hard crystalline igneous and metamorphic rocks thrust up along an ancient fault line at least 650 million years ago. The ridge top supports little more than grasses, providing fine walking conditions. The flanks support gorse, bramble and bracken interspersed with silver birch, mountain ash, hawthorn, sycamore and oak. The trees are stunted at higher levels but grow thick and large lower down.

Much of the drama and peculiarity of the Hills arises from the way this single, steep-sided, narrow, high ridge rises out of these gentle low hills and plains. It really is a unique landscape. Another feature is the many springs, some 88 of them, which sustained life from early times and explain the setting of marvellous Malvern Priory. Of particular note are St Ann's Well and Holy Well.

The northern end of the ridge is the higher, with Worcestershire Beacon (425m) the highest point. North Hill (397m) forms the main northern bastion. British Camp Hill (Herefordshire Beacon - 338m), further south, is the other highest point. In total there are some 20 named hills. The entire length of the Hills is open to the public and is criss-crossed with about 160km (100 miles) of bridleways and footpaths.

The Hills are popular, and best avoided at busy times such as weekends if you like solitude. The southern end tends to be emptier and, with the complex and hugely atmospheric ancient fort of British Camp, said to be the place of the chieftain Caractus’ last stand against the Romans, very pleasurable (and rural) walking. That said, British Camp is itself popular, so don’t expect to be alone anywhere. But it is an unforgettable picnic spot.

Great Malvern lies at the northern end of the Hills on the Worcestershire side, below Worcestershire Beacon and North Hill. There is direct walking access to the Hills from the town via the steep path up to St Ann's Well. Various villages lie on the slopes.

The Hills have inspired a multitude of artists. The composer Edward Elgar lived in the area, and was inspired by them. Langland’s Piers Plowman was set in the Hills, W H Auden wrote poems about or set in them, Paul Nash painted them.

You can walk the length of the Hills, 16+km/10miles, in 4+ hours. And you can make an endless variety of shorter circuits. An excellent option is the 12+ km from the Hollybush carpark on the A438 in the south, along the ridge to the northern extremities and dropping to the town centre via St. Anne’s Well. (See William Mackesy’s account below)

The Hills have lots of weather, so come prepared. Some of the Hills’ most beautiful light is on showery days, so don’t be disheartened by a mixed forecast!

Please help us by making suggestions and sending photos! Thank you!

 

WILLIAM MACKESY'S ACCOUNT
of this walk

I walked the length of the hills, south to north, on a warm, damp September day in 2018.

We parked in the centre of Great Malvern, and took a taxi south (£20) to Hollybush, where the A438 crosses a gap in the southern peterings-out of the hills. 

A steepish climb gets us straight up, through a belt of woodland, to the bare top of Midsummer Hill, and fine views in all directions, the pretty Eastnor Castle estate to the east calling for special attention – although, with thick, low cloud and an approaching shower, all is coated on gloomy light. And we are in.....

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Other accounts: share your experiences

Your comments on this walk, your experiences and suggestions, and your photos are very welcome. Where appropriate, you will be credited for your contribution.

PRACTICAL INFORMATION

We have a lot of helpful practical information and tips about this walk, covering everything from the best books and maps, to timing and weather, geting there, possible problems, whether you need a guide and where to find them, and useful websites. This section is only open to members.

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Safety and problems: All walks have inherent risks and potential problems, and many of the walks featured on this website involve significant risks, dangers and problems. Problems of any sort can arise on any walk. This website does not purport to identify any (or all) actual or potential risks, dangers and problems that may relate to any particular walk.

Any person who is considering undertaking this walk should do careful research and make their own assessment of the risks, dangers and possible problems involved. They should also go to “Important information” for further important information.

Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.

North across North Hill from Worcestershire Beacon, rain shower - © William Mackesy

OTHER ACCOUNTS
share your experiences

Add your experiences, suggestions and photos. We would be delighted to receive your writing and ideas (which will be attributed appropriately where published).

Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.

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Looking west, rain shower - © William Mackesy...
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