The Malverns, part 1 – Black Hill to Whyche Cutting loop (approx 7.2km)

I am still self-isolating at home, longingly looking at the blue sky through a window that could do with being cleaned. I thought it might be a good idea – in a kind of masochistic way – to revisit some of the walks me and Murphy have done in the past few months… we always walk and explore, so why not share?

I lived near The Malvern Hills for years and I am very fond of them and the views you can enjoy from the top so let’s start with them. It is perfectly possible to walk along their length in a single day (directions here), but we broke it up in three different circular journeys.

The hills run North-South through the counties of Hereford, Worcestershire and in tiny part Gloucestershire too. They are famous for their spring water, and they’ve been designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and a biological and geological SSSI. Quite the place. Wikipedia tells me that the name Malvern is probably derived from the ancient British moel-bryn, meaning “Bare-Hill”. I guess it makes sense.

We (me and Murphy) decided to began our quest from the middle of the range and head North, no reason, it just felt right. We set off on a glorious, crisp, and sunny morning in January ,one of those days when the sky is so blue and depthless it feels like you’re falling into it when you look up.

We parked at the BlackHill car park (don’t forget to pay!) and instead of following the nicely laid and almost flat path that follows the west flank of the hills, we headed uphill, reaching for the sunshine with the idea of walking right along the crest. Best decision, harder going, but the views on either side were undoubtedly worth the effort.

A lovely thing about the Malvern is the many benches you find… they are the perfect spot for a rest, or a bit of live contemplation, a bit of reading or simply to watch the clouds go by.

The hill in front of you is Blackhill . Steeper than you think!

The frost was hard in the shade, but it soon disappeared in the sun.

This is the view north-west. You can see clouds blanketing the land in the distance.

Here we’re looking east, more or less towards Cheltenham. Murphy doesn’t care, he just wants to run.

You really feel like the queen of the hills, even if you’re not on top of the tallest yet. Also, you think you’re getting to the top… and when you crest it… there’s another one in front of you taller still!

We didn’t encounter any sheep only a few cows because it was still early in the season, but you need to be mindful of your dogs. Some part are enclosed by fences and I suspect they might be occupied in the warmer months.

In the distance (south-east direction) you can see Cleeve Hill, which is where we often go for a walk, as it’s near home. Funny to see it from this angle. Refreshing. I get so bored doing the same walks but perhaps I should stop and ask myself why I get bored, after all nature is always changing, right? plants grow, flowers blooms, the seasons offer such variety that objectively none of the walks are ever the same, even if they… are. I should take a leaf out of Nan Shepherd’s book instead. She walked her beloved Cairngorms all her life and never tired of them. Her most famous book is called The Living Mountain and I can’t recommend it enough.

When you get to the Whyche Cutting, turn right and walk along the road for a short while till you find the path again after some houses. You’re now walking northward along the eastern side of the hills, mainly through woodlands. It’s much more flat too.

The path also takes you by Holy Well where you can refill your water bottle (and there’s a water bowl for the dogs too! Murphy was very grateful.

And then before you know it… you’re back to the beginning. Here’s me, squinting in the sun and pointing to the top of Blackhill, Murphy is probably panting at my feet because he doesn’t know when to slow down and take it easy.

Do you want to say hi?

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