Sunday 31 August Playley Green to Great Malvern

Miles walked: today 14.4 cumulative 487.5

Whenever I have driven down the M5 I have noticed the Malvern Hills. You see them to the west, south of Birmingham as you approach Worcester. I have always thought it would be nice to go walking in them but never have until today. what a treat I have missed! This was one of the most memorable days on the Walk.

My route took me almost the whole length of the Malvern ridge, from Chase End Hill in the South to North Hill in the, er, north. It involved about 3475 feet of ascent with slightly less descent and I traversed about 10 hills. If you want to do it in a day you can, but you would need to organise transport, or investigate public transport, to and from either end of the walk. Alternatively several shorter circular walks are possible

The beauty of the walk is that the Malvern are an isolated group of hills so you can see from Dunkery Beacon in the South to the Shropshire hills and Cannock Chase (my next target) in the north; and from the Cotswolds in the East to the Welsh mountains in the West. Some have suggested that maybe this is where Langland got the inspiration for Piers Plowman; where he stood to look down on all humanity. You certainly feel like you are doing that.

My left hamstrings keep going into spasm and waking me up. The pub is isolated so when I woke up in the night I went outside and looked at the stars. It was slightly cloudy but I could clearly recognise a few constellations and the Milky Way.

I was meant to retrace my steps through the maize field but I thought the better of it and set off down the lanes to cross the M50. I then took a path over the delightfully named Eggs Tump to pass parkland to reach Chase End Hill.

Chase End Hill looking towards Midsummer Hill

I then descended steeply to Hollybush losing most of the height I had gained. I climbed Midsummer hill and met a group of walkers doing a circular route, we saw each other on and off all day

Please note loss of fat since Lands End. There were good views southwards over the Vale of Leadon as well as northwards along the ridge

The path then descended steeply to the not delightfully named “The Gullet” before climbing another group of four hills ending at the Herefordshire Beacon or British Camp.

This series of fortifications dates from the late Bronze Age although the top “layer” is the remains of a Norman motte. Legend says that Caractacus made his last defence against the Romans here but it is more likely that this was in Shropshire. It is thought that to 4 000 people lived here and on Midsummer Hill. Again great views both back and forward along the ridge

There was then a final steep descent to the pass at Wyche (where there was a craft shop called Wychecraft). The path then ascends to the most northernmost range of the Malvern hills, Worcestershire Beacon.

At the bottom there was a sign informing me that Malvern spring water is unusual in that there are no minerals dissolved in it. The Beacon was one of the points used for the signalling beacons set up to warn of invasion by the Spanish Armada. The views are amazing,it is claimed you can see 13 counties from the top.

Great Malvern

There was one more ascent to the top of North Hill before a long descent into Great Malvern and a well deserved glass of: