Walk 1658 - printer friendly version
The Malverns circular Walk
Author - Peter Lane
Length - 18.0 miles / 29.3 km
Ascent - 5000 feet / 1515 metres
Grade - very hard
Start - OS grid reference SO772470
Lat 52.12084 + Long -2.3344199
Postcode WR14 1QD (approx. location only)
the Malvern Hills collectively consist of North Hill, Sugarloaf Hill, Worcestershire Beacon, Summer Hill, Perseverance Hill, Jubilee Hill, Pinnacle Hill, Black Hill, Herefordshire Beacon, Broad Down, Hangman's Hill, Swinyard Hill, Midsummer Hill, Raggedstone Hill and Chase End Hill. This route visits every single one of them! Commanding glorious rural views, there is no finer ridge walk in the three counties. A line drawn due East from Worcestershire Beacon will hit no higher point until the Urals.
This route has the makings of a competition walk. With the considerable altitude ascended it is a tough walk visiting every summit on the outward journey and by-passing all but Worcestershire Beacon on the return leg (unless you really want to torture yourself and do the whole thing again in reverse!). As a North to South ridge walk, even the most inept compass user should have no navigation problems.
Many start points are possible for this walk. The car park at the foot of Herefordshire Beacon being one ideal place as the walk may be done as a figure of eight from there and a break can be taken part way. However, for the purposes of this description, the start point is the car park at North Quarry on North Hill (small charge) at grid reference SO772470. Walk out of the car park, past the ticket machine on the broad path rising steadily uphill. This path zigzags along the Eastern flank of North Hill. A stone marker indicates the continuation up North Hill part way up, should there be any confusion. When the path opens up ahead, revealing the reigning monarch of the Malverns (Worcestershire Beacon), you must leave the well defined path and make your own way up the steep face of North Hill. (This spot coincides with a basic wooden bench). There is slight evidence of a path on the ground, made by tramping feet.
Having checked off the summit of North Hill, Sugarloaf Hill is the next diminutive Malvern just to the right of you before the commanding summit of Worcestershire Beacon. The path down North Hill is to the right as you face South towards Worcestershire Beacon and the route up Sugarloaf Hill obvious. The onward route up to Worcestershire Beacon commences at a toposcope and from there, any route you choose to the summit is fine. A commemorative monument to Queen Victoria stands on the Summit of Worcestershire Beacon along with the obligatory trig point.
Next comes Summer Hill. On the descent, avoid the tarmac road as far as possible by keeping to the ridge proper until it twists down past a mobile phone mast to the road at Upper Wyche. Cross the road here and then regain the ridge at the toilet block, where steps lead up to the next section of the route. Perseverance Hill, Jubilee Hill, Pinnacle Hill and Black Hill follow in succession without need for further commentary. At the end of Black Hill, again keep to the ridge on the left as long as possible, avoiding the descending route to the car parks. The route turns at a fence by a delightful Elizabethan house and descends sharply to the road.
Follow the road a short distance past a toilet block to the main A449 where you will find the Malvern Hills Hotel and an open air café. Carefully cross the main road and take the rising path to the right of the car park. A stone marker shows the onward route to British Camp or Herefordshire Beacon. This route is well trodden by all and sundry on any weekend or Bank Holiday. Despite its popularity, this ancient hill fort with its obvious terraced fortifications is a delightful hill with superb views out to the Eastnor Estate and its obelisk monument.
Follow the paved route down to a toposcope at the base of Broad Down. Now follow the ridge over Hangman's Hill until it turns right and descends a well trodden path to an intersection. Turn left and head for Swinyard Hill. Following the crest of this hill you will reach another toposcope. Most people turn right here, but I recommend continuing for another couple of hundred metres until the fence at the cliff face of the quarry (unseen behind the fence) appears. About 150 metres before the end of the hill, a small path turns off right into the woods. Follow this until it takes you down to the left hand side of the pool at the base of the imposing cliff face of Swinyard Hill. Now follow the path down to the Gullet and turn right, heading back up to the main North-South path.
Turn left at the top of the Gullet (going straight on takes you into the Eastnor Estate and the obelisk) and follow the path on to a metal gate across the track. About 100 metres after this there is a well trodden muddy path to the left that curves right up to the summit of Midsummer Hill. From the summit, descend via the obvious path that runs through woodland and then emerges into a clearing that descends steeply to a small car park at Hollybush. Faced with such a tempting prospect the only thing I can do is run!
Cross the A438 and turn right downhill for about 150 metres where a gate leads into the Eastnor Estate and Raggedstone Hill. The path going straight up is our objective, the path to the right is the return route back to Hollybush. After completing so many hills already, Raggedstone Hill is a bit of a shock to the system. It is a full frontal assault, offering little respite. From the summit the views extend now into Gloucestershire and the diminutive Southerly sentinel of the Malverns, Chase End Hill is clearly visible.
Descend down the obvious route into some woods and at the bottom turn right along a track, pass through a gate and enter Whiteleaved Oak hamlet. Just past the hamlet notice board, on the left is a driveway to a pretty timbered cottage that is also a right of way. The sunken footpath commences just to the right of the cottage and will take you directly to Chase End Hill and the end of your Malvern bagging odyssey!
To return to Hollybush, retrace the sunken footpath to Whiteleaved Oak hamlet and turn left at the notice board. Before the gate ahead, turn right uphill to a secluded gate with an "Eastnor Estate" notice board. This path will return you through woodland, flanking Raggedstone Hill, back to Hollybush. From the small car park at the foot of Midsummer Hill take the broad Eastnor Estate private road (public right of way) all the way past Swinyard Hill where it becomes a muddy track and through woods where it finally turns sharply right after a gate and kissing gate onto Hangman's Hill.
Retrace all the way to Broad Down where, at the toposcope, you may by-pass Herefordshire Beacon by flanking it on the right via a well defined path passing a reservoir. Emerging at the Malvern Hills Hotel, retrace to Black Hill but use the lower, flatter path to the left of the hill. This flanking route continues practically all the way to Upper Wyche.
Now retrace to Worcestershire Beacon flanking Summer Hill to the left on the tarmac road if desired. Pay homage to Worcestershire Beacon by visiting its summit once more and then descend to the toposcope at its foot. From here the broad path to the right flanking North Hill will return you to North Quarry car park.