The Monthly Newsletter of Chelmsford YHA Local Group
The Malvern 16
Untried accommodation is always a bit of a risk, but you couldn’t complain about the location of Berrow House, nestled at the foot of the Malvern Hills in Herefordshire. The proprietors were exceptionally friendly and helpful, but it has to be said that the accommodation was a tad basic. Most of the guys had beds in the main room, which doubled as our common room. Most of the girls were sleeping in the loft, where you couldn’t quite stand up. Mike & Cress and Dave & I had rooms in the stables next door.
With a first class weather forecast on the cards, it was a temptation to make Saturday’s walk suitably epic. Six of us succumbed and decided to bag the whole Malvern ridge - approx 10 miles and 3,300ft of ascent. The other 10 chose a marginally more modest circular walk designed to take in both the loftiest peaks of the ridge and the delights of Great Malvern.
The full Malvern ridge includes 16 peaks: starting in the north at North Hill, ending in the south at Chase End Hill, and taking in peaks such as Perseverance Hill, Hangmans Hill and Midsummer Hill en route. We ticked off the first 6 peaks before morning tea in the Geocentre at Wyche Cutting. Four more hills and we paused for lunch - this delayed us sufficiently to bump into the other group at British Camp car park.
British Camp is probably the most distinctive summit on the route, with its dramatic iron age ramparts. A chill wind made it seem a rather bleak location, but the banks and ditches are still hugely impressive today.
Three more peaks and we were heading down into the Gullet: a natural break in the ridge enlarged by a quarry, and we had to climb all the way down and all the way back up the other side to Midsummer Hill. At this point three of our party headed back to Berrow House and it was left to me, Mick and Dave to complete the last three peaks of the ridge. These were not the biggest hills on the route, but by this time we were rather tired and a small navigational error between Raggedstone Hill and Chase End Hill had us slithering through leaf litter down a perilously steep bank. With the ridge bagged, it was back to the bunk house for some beer and a reviving plate of goulash, courtesy of John & Judi.
Sunday was another fabulous day and most of the group elected to complete the Malvern hills they hadn’t done on Saturday. If anything, the views were better than the day before. A truly excellent weekend and one we’re sure to remember.
All Hail Arkesden
Thank you Dave (and the Cicerone guide book) for a fine walk along the Herts-Essex border. We started off in the beautiful village of Arkesden, with its pretty daffodil-lined stream running along the main street. From here we walked up the old corpse road towards Duddenhoe End. This western corner of Essex is quite hilly, so we got stupendous views. Unfortunately the views included some rather threatening-looking clouds heading our way. The forecast was for showers, so we had our waterproofs, but this wasn’t sufficient to protect us from stinging hail stones! A slightly painful walk up the hill to the accompaniment of thunder and lightning found us at the shelter of Chrishall Church – naturally, just as the storm had passed. All the same, we used their porch as our lunchtime picnic site before popping inside to see their Ruebens knock-off of the Adoration of the Magi.
We let the Red Cow in Chrishall pass, as it was busy with Sunday lunch customers and we figured we could get a drink in the next village. A lesson hard learned! A pub in the hand is worth one you don’t know is open. It turns out the Elmdon Dial closed last May. Still, their loss was the gain of the Axe & Compasses in Arkesden. Eleven hilly, sun-scorched, hail pelted miles had given us quite a thirst and we just managed to squeeze in our round before last orders. A great walk.
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