Gail Braznell

There’s nothing quite like getting a mile or two into the wilderness, as the Malvern Hills boasts one of the best air quality ratings in the UK, I’ve taken my own advice this month for some well needed time out of the office. I don’t do things by half, as anyone who knows me could tell you. A map in hand, hiking boots, windproof jacket, a full tummy and some bottled water, off I climbed to the top of the Malvern hills and the Worcestershire Beacon.

The spring and summer months are a great time to visit the Malvern’s, to take a walk in the countryside that once inspired one of Britain’s Greatest composers, Sir Edward Elgar and enjoy the crisp air, the spectacular views stretching as far as the Cotswolds and the wonderful scenery. It’s no wonder great authors such as J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S.Lewis have been inspired by this uniquely beautiful place.

Dominating the surrounding scenery, the Hills provide stunning views in all directions. They sit between Herefordshire and Worcestershire forming a beautiful, distinctive range of peaks and gullies running south for nine miles from Great Malvern to Chase End.

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Photography by Gail Braznell © Reflected Images www.reflectedimages.co.uk

 

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Photography by Gail Braznell © Reflected Images www.reflectedimages.co.uk

 

Towering above Great Malvern and the highest point of the truly majestic hills is the Worcestershire Beacon standing at 425m with North Hill 397m and the British Camp Hill or Herefordshire Beacon at 338m the other highest points. On the summit is a toposcope designed by Malvern architect Arthur Troyte Griffith, a friend of Sir Edward Elgar and erected in 1897 to celebrate Queen Victoria’s diamond jubilee. During World War II the Beacon was used as a fire lookout point for air raids on Birmingham and Coventry. In the latter half of the 20th century, it was used regularly as a location for a BBC transmitter relay van for covering horse racing and sports events in Worcester.

A rich cultural heritage of forts, castles and priories stand proudly from this landscape of ancient woodland, rolling pastures and wild, open commons. Approximately one million people visit the Malvern Hills each year and not just because of the countryside, Malvern is also famed for the pure spring water that has been gurgling out of the hills and into bottles for hundreds of years.

Holywell Spring in Malvern Wells is the original source – the first site in the entire UK where bottled water was produced. In 1558 Elizabeth I gave the spring to a local man called John Hornyold, on the condition that he kept it open to passers-by and come 1622 the astoundingly fresh, cool water spurting from the spring was bottled by the pilgrim monks from Great Malvern Priory. The current owners are still committed to honouring Queen Elizabeth I’s wish, that Holywell provides rest and refreshment whilst the factory produces still and sparkling Holywell Spring Water for customers all over the Midlands, passers-by can visit the well, take a cup and enjoy the fresh taste of Malvern’s original water for themselves.

What I like about the Malvern hills is whether you are driving, cycling hiking, giving the dog a good run or taking a gentle stroll there is something for everyone from children to adults, the elderly and the disabled. The steep and rugged terrain of the Malvern Hills makes them inaccessible to some people but there are now two specially constructed Easier Access Trails enabling everyone to enjoy their beauty. Earnslaw Easier Access Trail runs through mature woodland to a spectacular lake and Blackhill Easier Access Trail gives access to the ridge and far reaching views via a low gradient path.

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Photography by Gail Braznell © Reflected Images www.reflectedimages.co.uk

 

Top tips:

Remember your £3 for the car park.

All the car parks provide a starting point for walks over the Hills and Commons and money received from car parking fees are put back into managing the Malvern Hills for public enjoyment and nature conservation.