Parking: Hollybush / North Quarry
Start Point: Hollybush
Region: The Malverns AONB
Route length: 10.4 miles (17.4 km)
Time taken: 04:30
Average speed: 2.3 mph
Summits on this walk: Many!
The Malvern Hills, though modest in height, have been described as a mountain range in miniature; a walk in the hills is strenuous enough that Mallory walked here in preparation for his ascent of Everest. The Malverns stretch for 8 miles as an undulating ridge orientated north to south, dominating the surrounding countryside. They are formed from some of the oldest rocks in the country, thrust to the surface as a result of tectonic faulting, making them much more resistant to erosion, forming the ridge of hills we can see today. A good friend had devised a walk that would effectively visit every named prominence along the ridge which, despite being only 10 miles long, would require a considerable number of steep ascents.
We kicked off the day with a bit of car-shuffling, leaving a fleet at the North Quarry car park, the end point for the day, before shuttling a number of us south to Hollybush. While not quite the most southerly end of the Malverns, it offers the largest car park and an ideal starting point.
We began with a 'warm up' loop, so to speak, venturing south through the woods on the slopes of Ragged Stone Hill to the tiny hamlet of Whiteleaved Oak, where we amused ourselves with the local community's humourous notice board. The path, still on a southerly course, begins a steady climb up the slopes of Chase End Hill before a final, exceptionally steep climb spits you out on the top. The great expanse of the Vale of Gloucester is revealed in front of you, a vast panorama bounded by the Cotswolds in the distance.
|The path through the woods on the flank of Chase End Hill|
|Ragged Stone Hill|
|Trig pillar on Chase End Hill|
|Sign marking the way|
|A steep climb through the woods|
|Nearing the top of Ragged Stone Hill|
|The view over the Eastnor Estate|
|A look down the ridge of Ragged Stone Hill|
We were now right back where we started, in the car park at Hollybush. After a momentary pit stop it as back to climbing, this time up Midsummer Hill. The path remains in the wooded slopes around on of a number of quarrys before popping out on the ridge to some more exquisite views across the valley of the River Severn to the East.
|More steep climbing|
|The underwhelming marked on the top of Hollybush Hill|
|View to the north along the Malverns|
The Shire Ditch is, a ditch that runs the length of the Malvern Hills. It is thought that the ditch was in existence as early as the Bronze age, the discovery made by English Heritage during a survey in 2000. The ditch can be seen from the point level with the Great Malvern Priory all the way to Hollybush Hill which is more than 8km. The spine of the Malvern Hills and the Shire Ditch act as the modern-day boundary between Worcestershire and Herefordshire.
The path continues downhill to The Gullet, a depression in the ridge line and home to the disused Gullet Quarry, a fine location to see the ancient rocks of The Malverns up close. Inevitably, have lost this height, we had to regain it again as the path heads up through Gullet Wood, returning to the Shire Ditch and leading to the top of Swinyard Hill. From here, thankfully, the path remains high for a while, following the Shire Ditch along the undulating tops of Hangman's Hill, Broad Down and Millenium Hill to Hereforshire Beacon, also known as British Camp.
|The view from the ridge to the east|
|The Shire Ditch leading towards Broad Down|
|The main Malverns ridge|
|Black Hill, Pinnacle Hill and Worcester Beacon|
|The Shire Ditch|
|Big skies across Worcester and Herefordshire|
From Herefordshire Beacon, a very well laid path falls to Wynds Point, one of only three passes through the Malverns. Ideally situated here is a delightful cafe, marking our stop of lunch and a brief respite from the arduous climbing.
|The old ramparts on British Camp|
|Our cafe for lunch|
|Climbing up Black Hill|
|The path leading up Pinnacle Hill|
|The top of Pinnacle Hill|
|The unnamed summit next to Pinnacle Hill|
|The path leading down to Jubilee Hill|
|View to the east|
|The ridge into Upper Wyche|
|The paved path up Worcestershire Beacon|
|View back down the ridge|
|The sun hides behind the clouds|
|A seat with a view|
|Memorial to Queen Victoria|
|Trig pillar on Worcestershire Beacon|
|North Hill in the distance|
|Great Malvern on an interesting toposcope|
|Toposcope and Table Hill|
|Climbing Table Hill|
|Panorama from North Hill|
|The clock tower|
|The clock tower|