Sat. 13th July.
Up early for the best breakfast of the trip so far. Lots of fresh fruit and a perfectly cooked ‘English’. Once again the inn came up trumps and I obtained a lift back to Alfrick. Walking through fields brought me to The Knapp & Papermill gorge on the Leigh Brook [ a nature reserve.] Somebody had been before me and amazingly left all the gates open!!! Met them on their way back, three youngsters, and they seemed unconcerned about their slovenly habits. No wonder land owners get ruffled.
More complicated fields and diversions past posh houses brought me out near a pub on the roadside. Fairly average place but a pint of lemonade never did anybody any harm in this heat. Leaving, after a brief stop, the Malvern Hills became more prominent and needed to be climbed.
Ever since I viewed Ken Russell’s Monitor documentary on Elgar in 1962 depicting a young Elgar riding a white pony over the Malvern Hills accompanied by his music I’ve wanted to walk these hills. Certainly picked a very hot day to do so! Several springs lie below the hills and these gave rise to Malvern Bottled Water. Famous for having nothing in it!! I passed the Beauchamp Fountain whose daily out put is 10,000 gallons.
I was surprised how steep the ascent onto the Malverns was from the north end. Toiled up alongside various groups of young people, the girls naturally in high heels. These hills are Pre-Cambrian resistant volcanic rock, granite, with dolerite intrusions visible as crags on the hillsides. There has been extensive quarrying on the lower flanks. Eventually I reached Worcester Beacon the highest point at 425m. There is a toposcope [erected 1897] highlighting the visible points from the summit. Apparently this was ‘stolen’ in 2002 but has since been replaced.
Sat looking at the rather hazy views with the temperature in the 30s. Swifts were flying low. Sounds drifted up from Malvern town below, the colleges and churches clearly visible.
The ridge southwards was a lovely stroll……
and I was soon down at The Wyche cutting, the original low route through the hills before the railway tunneled below. The tunnel opened up the Colwall area for many businesses including brick works and a bottling plant. The latter now handles 12million litres of Malvern Spring water annually. One of the ventilation towers for the railway tunnel stands by the path and apparently is home to a large colony of Horseshoe Bats. Loss of concentration at the end of a very hot and tiring day meant I added to my distance by wandering on the wrong paths in parkland.
Eventually found my cosy little B&B in the village, cold shower and lots of fluids. Went out for supper to the pub later, few people in – just too hot to bother.