Travel writer Tom Leaman writes about some of Exeter's lesser-known treasures.Written by Tom Leaman on 6th April 2018
The Gem of the Midlands: The Malvern Hills
Travel writer Freya George shares a must visit spot in the heart of the Midlands
The Malvern Hills are, without doubt, one of the gems of the Midlands, if not of the UK itself. It truly is a sight and one of the most enjoyable places I have ever been too. The views from the top that spread across Worcestershire, Herefordshire and even Wales are breath-taking; I was so lucky to see it on a clear day. It is vibrant, lush and simply, stunning. Amongst other things, the Hills definitely lend themselves to many photography opportunities!
Importantly, for a very inexperienced climber such as myself, I did not find climbing the hills too impossible, but the right level of difficulty. It was very tough and strenuous and I was exhausted by the end – but I did not feel I couldn’t do it or have to give up halfway. The fact that others walking the hills included families and elderly people shows you how the Hills can be accessed by a lot of people. Of course, there were elites such as cyclists and runners, but the Hills are inclusive and seemingly cater for all capabilities. The route I took was from a place called ‘St Ann’s Well’, based in the town of Malvern itself, which took me from the Worcestershire Beacon (which is the highest point of the hills) to the Herefordshire Beacon. It was about 9 miles long altogether and although that may not sound much, bare in mind it is very steep so you are definitely working hard! However, what was also useful to discover was that they side paths that take you around the hills rather than over them so if ascending the hills does get too much, there is an alternative. They also offer good shelter from the sun. I learnt to my cost just how exposed you are up there! One slight criticism I would have about the Hills, however, is the lack of signage. At certain points, I was very uncertain as to where I was and some signs offering ideas about distance would have been helpful. I had to use a certain set of cows as a guiding point to where I was!
The main stop along the way was at the British Camp, which is located on top of the Herefordshire Beacon, and is surrounded by restaurants such as ‘The Malvern Hills Hotel’ and other eating-places. The British Camp is also where an Iron Age Fort was discovered and was thought to have been built in the 2nd century BC. At one point, a Norman Castle also stood on the sight. So, historically speaking, the Malvern Hills is also a place of interest.
Overall, the Malvern Hills really is a wonderful sight to both climb and experience – and I would recommend to anyone, especially to those who are new to more arduous walking. My experience climbing the hills was lovely and I know I only scratched the surface with my visit (as there are some hills both before and after the distance I walked) so I hope to return one day and complete it all!