Great Outdoors Thursday, April 7th Words by: Johana Joudalová, pictures by: Herefordshire Live

Hiking over the Malvern Hills

Great Outdoors Thursday, April 7th

Hiking over the Malvern Hills

The view from British Camp is billed as one of the best in the UK - and we're not going to argue with that.

Also known as the Herefordshire Beacon, this hump on the Malvern Hills is 1,109ft (338m) high, which techincally makes it a mountain.

According to folklore it's where a British tribal chieftain called Caractacus made his last stand against the Romans, and the archoeological remains reveal it's where Colwall Castle was built in the run-up to 1066. 

We took a hike up the Malverns to discover it for oursevles. 

Video by Johana Joudalova/Herefordshire Live.

Here's the route we took, if you want to try it yourself. Starting at Eastnor, walk along a straight path past the lakes. Looking back, you'll see Eastnor Castle.

The Cocks family purchased this land in the 16th century and by 1810 built a castle and defense against the Welsh. Today, Eastnor Castle is a popular location for weddings, festivals and functions. It's reguarly used as a TV and film location and is also home to the Land Rover Experience.

EastnoLake

Heading across the meadow to the top of the hill you'll come across the Eastnor Obelisk, just inside the deer park boundary. This 90ft monument is a memorial to members of the Somers Cocks family, most recently restored in 2012.

It's a popular resting place for walkers and there are long views: Wales in the west, the Cotswolds in the east, the Forest of Dean in the south. You might also encounter friendly sheep sniffing your sandwich from behind.

Eastnor1

Well done if you're in wellies because this is where the route down hill leads through a muddy forest. Don’t give up. All of the sudden the forest path will open and you'll be greeted by the shimmering waters of Gullet Quarry.

GulletQuarry

The spring-fed lake at Gullet Quarry is around 5m deep, with 670 million year old crystalline rocks rising up from behind. 

This place is beautiful - but dangerous. The water is ice-cold and the cliffs are crumbling. Eight people have died here since quarrying stopped in the early 1970s and swimming is now banned.

Walking on, you head towards Clutter’s Cave.

Cave

Also known as St Walm's Well or Waum’s Cave after the spring that once lay beneath it, this man-made well lies to the south-west of the pillow mound.

Its exact age is unknown but I like to think it was the hangout of some hermit in the Middle Ages. There are rumours going around about this little place...

To the west, not far from Colwall train station, is a monolith standing at a crossroads. Legend says a giant hurled the huge stone from Clutter's Cave after seeing his wife with another man. And when the Colwall Stone landed, it killed her.

Another story says it started with a boundary dispute between two giants. They agreed one should throw the stone over the hills and wherever it landed would be the divide between their lands.

A third tale, told to Herefordian author and antiquarian Alfred Watkins, was that the devil was carrying the huge stone when his apron strings broke. He abandoned the stone in Colwall. And now it turns around nine times every time midnight strike. 

BritishCamp

From the ancient cave, you climb the rough terrain of the Herefordshire Beacon to towards British Camp. It's beautiful, espeically with the sun shining and no wind.

This Iron Age hill fort is protected as a Scheduled Ancient Monument and is owned and maintained by Malvern Hills Conservators. The fort is thought to have been first constructed in the 2nd century BC, after which a Norman castle was built on the site.

On the way to the top you can notice the extensive earthworks which make the summit look like a giant wedding cake. 

As well as cyclists and walkers, you'll encounter wildlife - rabbits, ravens, buzzards, skylarks, dormouse, snakes, butterflies and grazing sheep.

And when you reach the top... take in the view.

Diarist John Evelyn (1620–1706) remarked the view from this hill was "one of the godliest vistas in England".

If you are lucky with the weather, you'll see the Eastnor Obelisk where you started as well as the Brecon Beacons and the rest of the Malverns stretching over the three counties.

You are standing at the summit of one of England's wonders.

BritishCamp2

I ended my trip with a visit to Sally's Place - a tiny cafe at the bottom of the British Camp hill.

Chatting to the owner Sarah while rewarding ourselves with ice-cream, it became clear why she loves it here.

“I was a policeman for 21 years, but when I lost my mum I started to look at the life differently," said Sarah.

"My whole family used to be very busy. Losing our mum brought us all together again and we have created this café and named it after her – Sally’s Place. 

"Life has changed for us. On June 2nd it will be 2 years since we opened, and I've absolutely loved every single moment."

A perfect end to our Malverns walk.

Gingebreads

 

The Malvern Hills have been described as a "mountain range in miniature". With a ridge stretching 8-miles end-to-end, the hills sit within Worcestershire, Herefordshire and Gloucestershire and encompass 3,000 acres of open countryside.

The space is shared by walkers, mountain bikers, horse riders, and plenty more. Head over to www.malvernhills.org.uk for info on where to park and what to do on hills. 

Safety info on Gullett Quarry.

Sally's Place (WR13 6DW) is open all year round, apart from Christmas day.

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