With Winter meteorologically here and astronomically just around the corner, I’m trying to fit in as many scenic runs before it becomes a little more difficult to run in the hills. Having only started at the end of February I am yet to experience icy conditions.
Malvern Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
With a sunny Sunday forecast for the Malvern Hills area I found a walking route that headed from Midsummer Hill in the south to North Hill at the far end of the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The route is about 7 miles or so out and then returning along the same path give or take a few deviations.
Being an extremely popular area, the paths are well defined almost the entire length so there wouldn’t be an issue running the walking route.
I had preloaded the route into the OS Maps app on the iPhone but I had omitted to check the amount of elevation along the route. It was only when I had parked up and was ready to set off that I realised that there would be over 3,300ft of ascent. My poor legs were going to get a beating!
Midsummer Hill, Hangman’s Hill, Herefordshire Beacon
Leaving the car park there’s an immediate ascent to the ancient hill fort remains on Midsummer Hill. It was still before 9am so the sun had recently risen and was still low in the sky. At the summit I was rewarded with a breathtaking view of the sun illuminating the low lying mist covering the views towards Tewkesbury. In the opposite direction was a view of the obelisk standing atop a hill in Eastnor Park.
Descending the hill fort, the route winds through Gullet Wood and ascends again towards Hangman’s Hill. By this point I was constantly stopping to take photographs of stunning view after stunning view.
Herefordshire Beacon was in the distance and marks the boundary between the counties of Herefordshire and Worcestershire. It’s surrounded by the Iron Age hill fort earthworks of British Camp which is thought to date back to the 2nd century BC. At the base of the Herefordshire Beacon is one of three passes through the hills and a popular cafe. I resisted the lure of ice cream and carried on across the road and up behind the Malvern Hotel.
As time progressed the path were becoming increasingly busier predominantly with walkers making the most of the sunny morning but also mountain bikers and other runners. It’s great to see so many people enjoying the countryside and with plenty of points along the way to park you can make the trip out as short or as long as you want.
Hills, Hills and More Hills (Can You See a Pattern Forming?)
The path climbs up and down Black Hill, Pinnacle Hill, Jubilee Hill and Perseverance Hill and at this point I think that as this is an out and back route, my legs will be attacking them again real soon.
After Perseverance Hill I encountered another pass and some Morris Dancers that were climbing up towards Worcestershire Beacon. I would discover why they were heading up there a little later on.
As the hills are all in a line it’s difficult to see beyond the next two or three so climbing up a very foggy Worcestershire Beacon I wasn’t sure if North Hill adjoined it or was further on again. Turns out that there was another descent and ascent up to North Hill but this would be the final one before turning around and heading back.
Heading back south and back up Worcestershire Beacon I could hear the feint sound of bells and clacking sticks. The Morris Dancers I had encountered earlier on were meeting around two dozen others for a dance on the hill. It was impressive that they had scaled the beacon in full kit and even more impressive was the chap that had carried up the tuba!
Heading further south the path was becoming busier and whilst the fast descents were fun, my legs were feeling every inch of the ascents. At British Camp pass I again resisted the ice cream and plodded onwards up the steep climb to the old fort and on towards the fort on Midsummer Hill.
Contours, And Why I Really Need to Pay Attention to Them
A little carried away with a fun downhill section, I overshot a turning that I needed to take that would take me up Midsummer Hill. I always had the hill in my sights so when I overshot the turning I thought I would be ok and could just take another path.
Thanks to the OS Maps app on the iPhone I can easily re-route and had a few options including following a road back to where I had parked. Instead, I opted for a shortcut to the hill fort which quickly turned into a trudge up an extremely steep wooded section that included fell trees to step over and through! I now know why it’s called Hollybush Roughs on the map.
A second glance at the OS Maps app revealed the tight contour lines so I probably should have avoided that route. I really need to pay more attention to the maps. The hill was relentless, it kept on and on and included fallen trees to clamber over. And when you think you’re at the top, it carried on. You can see why it was the perfect location for a hill fort.
Every Run Doesn’t Have to be a Race
Descending down Midsummer Hill and back to the car, the GPS registered 14.5 miles and due to a lot of taking photographs and walking sections it took me a lot longer than it usually would have but I was here to admire the scenery rather than seeing how quickly I could complete it.
Whenever I visit somewhere like this I always treat it like this is the only time that I will ever visit so ensure that I fully enjoy the experience and take plenty of photographs.
Route Map and Profile