Our first "proper" walk of the year. We caught the train to Great Malvern Train station and walked up the streets through past the shops, following the signs up the high street, and made our way past St Annes well ( pausing to fill a bottle ) to the Peak of The Worcestor Beacon, which according to it's Wikipedia Entry has a height of 425 metres.
Its a funny walk, as a great deal of the altitude is built up on the walk up through Malvern Centre from the train station. The steps en route from The town centre to St Annes well are steep and as a result most of ones effort seems to be spent on the approach to St Annes Well.
At St Annes Well there are toilets and a cafe that opens during busy periods, or when we visited from 10 till 4 at the weekend. We resited temptation to enquire about the rather hearty looking bowls of soup, and continued or approach to the col between North Hill and the Beacon. At this point things get a little easier, and there are a variety of routes to the top, where we paused to take in the rather pleasing views - though a relativly short "Peak Bag", as its the highest thing in a fair old area the panoramas cover significant distance.
From the top of the Beacon, there is a fine view along the Malvern Hills to British camp. The walk down to Whyche Cutting was in the sun, and as such had much less frost than the ascent of the Beacon. A small subsidery peak gave a little shade for the seasonal frosting, but after passing it there was little shade from the strong winter sun. I wished I had brought my sun glasses in places. The air was crisp, and it was about at this point we began mulling the early abondenment of certain new years resolutions and toasting the end of the walk with a trip to the Austrian Bar in Worcestor and finishing off the Day with a slap up Balti Feast in Saffron, Oldbury.
With the exception of the road at Wyche, Its possible to walk over the hills, peak to peak until shortly before British Camp. There is another path that runs a few metres lower that is generally more level, offering a quicker but simple return journey.
There are a number of peaks as we walk along the Malverns, a suprising number in fact, and it's easy to get into the "this must be the last one before we get there" mentality, and though we tried to keep to the peaks, on the way to British Camp though as my foot had started to blister on this occasion we missed off Pinnacle hill on the way to British Camp.
British Camp is an impressive sight - not due to its elevation but instead because of its structure. Its shape is due, apparently to earthworks and from a distance gives it a look not too dissimilar to a Wedding cake, well a wedding cake thats green rather than white, with no corny bride and groom dolls on top. But you get the idea - a tiered set of shrinking circular bands.
Anyway, back to it, after crossing the A road, we approached British Camp through a gate next to the carpark. The gradient of the path up to the peak was just a little bit uncomfortably on the steep side given the icey conditions and number of people coming up them - slipping onto your arse is one thing but accidentally sliding into someones grandmother quite another.
We made our way to the top, and celebrated reaching the endpoint of our walk with cheese sandwiches and water, Before turning around for the return journey.
With the camp conquered, we returned to the kiosk at the foot for a cup of tea. We then found the bus was due, and with fading light decided that it was a darn shame to loose what we perceived to be a well earned cuppa. We decided that with good pace, there was sufficient daytime to reach the Wyche Cutting, where we could follow the road down into Great Malvern and back to the train station. As we strode back towards the path the bus stopped loaded up and left. We had learned from a gentleman waiting that the next one wasn't due for two hours, and as I watched the bus trundle past us and down the road I had a moment or two of doubt whether or not the tea was worth it. The experience did give us a good view of the sunset, and we got to Wyche to take the road just as Day turned to night. If we had more light then I would have taken in the Beacon on the return, as I remain sceptical how much time is saved using the road rather than by going straight over the hill on the return journey, but am certain that the views from the top far outwieghs the experience of the traffic speeding by after a good afternoons stroll.