After walking some of the more Northern Malvern peaks last month, we returned to explore the hills south of British Camp. Perhaps due to the distance from Great Malvern, these hills have a more rural, less touristy feel to them than the more Northern Peaks and this, coupled with some interesting features give them an initimate feel to compensate for a lightly lower altitude. Temperatures on this walk were close to zero, with added windchill. WE managed to make it a semi-circular walk - managinf to avoid many of our outward steps, and it took us about 3 minutes 20 minutes.
We took advantage of the car and drove up to the British Camp carpark on the A449, parking for a very reasonable fee. From here we walked to the top of British camp before following the southern portion of Walking Britain Walk 1556, which is on the whole a pretty accurate and thoroughly enjoyable route plan, though we noted one or two places where it could be more accurate ( such as the intersection before Swinyard Hill ). Its worth noting that an internet route should never be used as a replacement for an OS map. We particulary enjoyed the diversion it suggested around the Gullet.
The climb starts almost immediately from the carpark, and it took a while for my partner to get into her stride. By the time we were heading down from Hangmans Hill she seemed to have had her second wind, and enjoyed the views - the ridge to the Beacon and views south to the Obelisk were particulary pleasing. After passing Swinyard Hill, the Ridge became an occasional treat to be enjoyed from the peaks of Midsummer Hill and Ragged Stone Hill only.
The approach to Raggedstone Hill is suprisingly taxing. For a small peak ( or two - as it has two twin peaks of similar height ) it takes a good slog to get to the top, but the views are well worth it. At this point I had wanted to continue to Bag Chase End Hill to "complete" the walk, but my partner suggested that the reports of incoming snow, coupled with the limited daylight on this winter afternoon, not to mention with her aching legs might make leaving it for another day to be a more appropriate course of action. We turned and headed back, the occasional flakes of snow and overcast skies providing sufficient justification for our decision.
After making our way back down from Raggedstone hill, we headed back along the route of the old Worcester Way ( Prior to its "rebranding" I believe it ran further south, though the route it took is still a public footpath ). This led us back up to the turn off for Midsummer Hill, where we continued Northwards, past the Obelisk/Gullet "croassroads" and further North. Rather than following the ridge back, we followed the path, finding a waymark for the Three Choirs way. The path appeared to fork from the trail at cattle grid, and as the trail was quite muddy and churned up, we stayed on the path that appeared at first to run parralel. unfortunately, it gradually and deceptivly veered away from the trail, which turned out to be convenient when it rejoined the ridge walk between Swinyard Hill and Hangmans Hill.
We rejoined the ridge path just after Swinyard Hill, and rather than follow the outward route choose to take a lower route. This turned out to be a fine choice, and it wasn't long before we saw that this path passed straight by Clutters Cave en route to the toposcope at the base of Broad Down. From here we took the path which passed along approximately halfway between the ridge and reservoir, before leading us back to the carpark and nearby refreshment stand where we purchased a couple of pleasent cups of tea.
Whilst we didn't bag all of the remaining peaks - the lower of the pair of Raggedstone Hill and Chase End Hill being left till another day, and we didn't venture to the foot of the obelisk, this short circular walk gave us a good feel for the southern end of the Malverns, and we look forward to returning for future walks in the area.