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The uniquely beautiful Malvern Hills are a great upthrust of land that divides the counties of Worcestershire and Herefordshire for a full 8 miles (13 km). Walks in the Malvern Hills offersweeping panoramas, superb ridge walking and a sense of airiness usually associated with higher mountainous regions. Within touching distance of the urban sprawl of Birmingham, Malvern is perfect for a revitalising escape to the hills.
The Malverns are extremely prominent from miles around, such is the way that they rise from the flatter countryside around them. Their composition of mostly igneous rock has meant that they have resisted the erosion caused by glaciation and weathering. As if by design, they have been sculpted into the characteristic smoothly rounded hills that are so adored by those who love this region.This is what makes hikes in the Malvern Hills such a pleasure – airy ridge walking on gentle slopes. Their beauty was enough to inspire the works of one of Britain’s greatest composers, Edward Elgar. He grew up in Worcestershire and loved these hills with a passion.
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The best hiking trails in the Malvern Hills explore the main ridge and gentle slopes. Made up of fifteen distinct summits, there are many route permutations, whilst energetic hikers will plan to tackle the ridge in one go.
The views are astounding. Particularly once the hills reach their zenith at the top of the Worcestershire Beacon at 1,394ft (425 m). To the south west, the gentle hills of the Cotswolds roll into the distance, whilst to the west the hills of Herefordshire are backed by distant Welsh mountains. Adorning the summit is a toposcope, which allows you to match the landmarks to their names, as well as a memorial to Queen Victoria and the obligatory trig-pillar.
Walks in the Malvern Hills are not just about summits and views, there is also a great deal of historic interest. To the south of the ridge rise Herefordshire Beacon and Midsummer Hill, both the former sites of Iron Age forts. The fort on Herefordshire Beacon, named British Camp, is deservedly popular. It still displays the extensive layered earthworks that make it such a beguiling place to explore. Once you have finished exploring, quaint local cafes and pubs await for well-earned refreshments.
The woods that cling to the lower slopes offer some lovely rambles. Stroll the tree-lined trails, listening to the scrunch of fallen leaves underfoot. In late Spring, take in the vibrant hues of the bluebell displays that can be found here. It is worth noting that after periods of rain or during winter the wooded lower slopes can be quite muddy underfoot. Occasionally during winter, the higher Malverns might catch a dusting of snow for those cosy, short winter days when the sun is low, the sky is huge and the leafless trees cast long shadows.
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