After watching Far from the Madding Crowd recently, I’ve become slightly obsessed with all things quaint and English. I mean, who wouldn’t want to go frolicking in the Dorset countryside in pretty Victorian get-up? So when it came time to choose the next #take12trips challenge, it may have influenced my choice of the Malvern Hills. Pretty scenery? The Malverns is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Quaint housing? More like, can you get any quainter (or English?) than a shepherd’s hut. Victorian clothing? Well, you can’t get everything you want….
After arriving late in the night, I began to question choosing such a remote choice for our accommodation, but waking up the next morning to ducklings playing in the private pond by our hut at the Malvern Holiday Park quickly confirmed that this was an excellent decision.
After enjoying a lazy morning of sleeping in and watching the ducklings, we set off towards the Malvern Hills, passing through several overgrown farm fields and forests.
Suddenly our trail merged onto this breathtaking pathway that was covered in wildflowers.
The flowers blanketed the hillside, making us feel as if we were strolling through clouds or tiptoeing over its downy layers. Occasionally bluebells poked through the foliage, and birds chattered away, making the place seem as if it were teeming with life. Pretty soon though, the bluebells took over entirely and covered the fields, which provided me with the perfect opportunity to lounge in the flowers just like they do in films.
Eventually we made it to the start of the hills, where we clambered around obelisks, caves, mottes and more than one summit! Hours later we reached the grandaddy of the Malvern Hills, the Worcestershire Beacon. After hours of summiting the hills our legs were feeling a little wobbly, but we managed the final push to the top!
The breeze at the summit was particularly refreshing after the long sweaty slog, but it did seem as though the wind wanted my hat as much as I did!
Every good hike goes well with cake, and we conveniently found ourselves close to Great Malvern. With out thoughts consumed by coffee, lemonade and chocolate cake, we slid down the side of the hill towards the town (I’m still trying to remove the grass stains from my shorts).
We made an undignified entrance to St Ann’s Well, where ladies who lunch dined al-fresco, and parents watched their kids peer perilously close into the fish ponds. Back in the Victorian times, Great Malvern’s wells, including St Ann’s Well and Holy Well, were deemed to have miraculous healing properties, curing everything from women’s hysteria to polio. While I was sceptical about its medicinal properties St Ann’s did give us a good opportunity to refill our water bottles!
The town of Great Malvern is steeped in history, which is displayed at every opportunity. Many of the religious buildings, such as the priory, remain intact, plaques adorn pubs where authors such as C.S. Lewis and Tolkien frequented, and there is even a dedicated trail to the history of Elgar’s residence in the town.
After stopping at the Bluebell Tearoom for generous portions of cake and coffee, there was just enough sunlight hours left in the day for us to make our speedy retreat back over the hills. Luckily we found mountain biking trails that skirted around the summit of the hills, which greatly helped us reduce our time.
As the sun began to set and tiredness/hunger set in, we decided to take a shortcut through a public pathway that went around a farm field. Unfortunately the path was completely overgrown and blocked with barbed wire and fencing that made our detour a grand tour of Malvern farm crops. However, it also meant we got to see this spectacular sunset.