Breath of fresh air: walking the Malvern Hills

The Malvern Hills is a breath-taking range that spans three counties, offering a variety of terrain that will suit all abilities, whether you’re a casual stroller or a dedicated hiker. Begin your exploration in the spa town of Great Malvern – the gateway to the iconic hills – where you can discover a rich heritage, before setting off for higher climbs.

Take a train to Great Malvern and you can enjoy a relaxing trip and a hot drink before embarking on your expedition.

At the foot of the Malvern Hills lies the spa town of Great Malvern. Once a popular destination for sickly Victorians looking to ‘take the water’, it is now an important conservation area, full of beautiful architecture, and serves as a natural gateway to the hills beyond.

Begin your exploration at the station, a Grade II listed building designed by Victorian architect Edmund Wallace Elmslie. The tea room there was formerly a private waiting room for local landowner Lady Emily Foley, and is a nice spot to take some refreshment.

When you leave the station, turn right and follow Avenue Road uphill towards town. You’ll soon reach Priory Park, once the garden of a Victorian mansion, and before that, the grounds of a monastery where local medieval monks grew vegetables and herbs.

Beyond the park, you’ll find the Great Malvern Priory. Founded around 1085, for nearly 500 years it was home to a community of some 30 monks. When Henry VIII closed England’s monasteries in the 1530s, local people clubbed together and bought the church for the town, preventing its destruction.

Annie Darwin, a favourite child of the eminent naturalist Charles Darwin, was buried at the priory in 1851. She was brought to Great Malvern in the forlorn hope that the waters might cure her of an illness that was most likely tuberculosis.

Past the churchyard, turn left along Belle Vue Terrace towards Rose Bank Gardens. There you’ll find the restored ground of Rose Bank House, gifted to the people of Malvern by Charles William Dyson Perrins, the wealthy grandson of one of the inventors of Lea & Perrins’ Worcestershire Sauce.

After exploring the historic town, it’s time to head for the hills. Follow signposts for the North Hill and enjoy the stiff climb – it’s worth it for the views. If you have the energy, make your way towards the British Camp – the Iron Age hill fort – enjoying the delightful panorama from the ridge as you go.

Take a GWR train to Great Malvern station, with direct trains from Bristol, Gloucester, Hereford, Oxford, Reading and London Paddington