Epic ridge walk offering stunning views across thirteen coun
The Malvern Hills is a ridge of prominent peaks built from ancient volcanic rocks running north to south along the Herefordshire-Worcestershire border. Visible for miles around, a succession of summits march across the landscape.
There are various access points to the different peaks, but it is also possible to walk the entire Malvern ridge, taking in the full range of stunning views.
Starting at the northern end of the ridge, End Hill and North Hill can be accessed from Malvern Link train station, which is little more than a mile's walk away. Once you have climbed the steep hillside out of the built-up area of Malvern and onto the bald hilltops, navigating is easy. Although there is a warren of footpaths crisscrossing the hills, the ridge is visible and you can follow any path heading in the right direction.
South of the northern end of the ridge, Great Malvern is a pleasant place to visit and you may wish to drop off the hills for a break here. Alternatively, you could get off the train at Great Malvern station, see the town first and then and complete the northern tip of the hills as a loop, before setting off south along the ridge. Great Malvern is the historic centre of Malvern and it still exudes the atmosphere of the elegant and popular 19th-century spa town that it once was.
Back on the ridge, after passing the paths down the eastern flank to Great Malvern, you will soon reach Worcestershire Beacon. This is the highest point of the Malvern Hills at 425 metres (1 394 feet). The views are outstanding, on a clear day, you can see from Birmingham to Wales.
From this point, the ridge narrows and descends until you come down to a road cutting through the hills at Wyche Cutting. Cross over the road and follow the path to ascend again.
The next time you come down to the road is at the car park for Herefordshire Beacon, the second-highest summit. This is surrounded by British Camp, an iron-age hillfort with clearly visible terraced earthworks. Further south along the ridge there is a gloomy and intriguing cave, however, this is actually man-made and was excavated by the Victorians as a folly.
Keep walking until the ridge peters out at the A438 Hollybush or come off the ridge to enter Eastnor Castle Deer Park. Permissive rights of way lead through the parkland, past a 90-foot obelisk commemorating various members of the aristocratic Somers family, and onto to the entrance on the A483. Eastnor Castle itself lies on the other side of the A438 and is open to visitors on certain days in summer. Although it lies relatively close to the heavily defended borderlands between England and Wales, Eastnor Castle was built as a home in the 19th century for the 1st Earl Somers, and so is not a real castle at all.
From the Eastnor Castle Deer Park entrance, it is a pleasant walk over a hill and through fields and woodland to the market town of Ledbury, which has several distinctive black and white timber-framed buildings, independent shops and places to eat and drink. It also has a train station allowing you to catch a train back to your starting point.