- Start: Eastnor church, GR SO732372
- End: Eastnor church, GR SO732372
- Country: England
- County: Herefordshire
- Type: Country
- Nearest pub: Malvern Hills Hotel 01684 540690/kiosk at British Camp car park
- Ordnance Survey: OS Explorer 190
- Difficulty: Medium
Tom Fisher of Leadon Vale Ramblers leads the way to hills, history and magnificent views
This walk is easy to follow yet has so much to offer:
well-maintained paths, only one stile, the magnificent Deer Park, one of the best views in England... and a pub, toilets, snack bar. Take your time and enjoy it.
1. Our walk starts in the pretty village of Eastnor, by the church, and close to the imposing Eastnor Castle. It will take us through the magnificent Eastnor estate, but the castle itself is well worth a visit. The massive building in Norman Revival style was completed in 1820. Do check opening times before you visit. From Eastnor church retrace your steps to the main road, cross it with great care and go through the gates immediately opposite the castle entrance. Now follow the tarmac track as it swings round to the right and then follow it through the deer park, enjoying the views of the Malverns ahead and the parkland all around you. When you reach Park Lodge, follow the stone track marked private road to the left of the lodge over the cattle grid and go through the wood. There is no public right of way but the Eastnor estate is friendly to walkers and happy for walkers to use the track. The wood section is flat, peaceful and a good surface but with not much of obvious interest, so a good time for a deep conversation! Ignore side turnings and after one mile, where the track splits by the log pile bear left. After a further half-mile on the track we emerge onto the busy A449. Here you turn right and we must bear the only difficult part of the walk, the 700 yards to the British Camp car park. Do take care on this section.
2. At the car park, you may wish to enjoy an ice cream or cup of tea at the kiosk (if open) or visit the Malvern Hills hotel. Now turn right through a gate up the well-marked path to the top of Herefordshire Beacon. The climb is steep but short. You can enjoy unparalleled views in all directions: Black Mountains to the west, Worcestershire Beacon and beyond to Clee Hill to the north, Bredon Hill and the Severn vale to the east and May Hill to the south. If you cant see May Hill in these parts, it isnt a proper walk! The diarist John Evelyn (16201706) remarked that the view from the hill was one of the godliest vistas in England.
Around the summit is British Camp, the Iron Age hill fort. The ditch and bank around the site in fact covers three hills, although those to north and south are little more than spurs. With a perimeter of 6,800 feet the defences enclose an area of around 44 acres. The first earthworks were around the base of the central hill but at least four pre-historic phases of building have so far been identified. There is no evidence about whether the coming of the Romans ended the use of the British Camp, but folklore states that the ancient British chieftain Caratacus made his last stand here. This is unlikely, according to the description of the Roman historian Tacitus, who implies a site closer to the river Severn. Excavation at Midsummer Hill fort, Bredon Hill and Croft Ambrey all show evidence of violent destruction around 48 AD, three years before the capture of Caratacus. This may suggest that the British Camp was abandoned or destroyed around the same time.
Now you can enjoy being on top of the world as you walk down the ridge, following the boundary between Herefordshire and Worcestershire, over Millennium Hill and Hangmans Hill. Keep an eye on the obelisk ahead of you that is where you are aiming. The best way is to stay on the ridge and climb Swinyard Hill. At the top, there is a direction finder. Follow the route to the obelisk and Midsummer Hill to your right. You soon reach a broad muddy track (very muddy in bad weather). Turn left. After 400 yards, turn right over a style to reach Peacock Villa. Go through the gate and go straight ahead over open ground to
3. The obelisk (currently clothed in scaffolding) was built in 1812 in memory of Edward Somers, whose family owned the castle and estate at Eastnor. It was designed by Robert Smirke, architect of the British Museum. Carry on the stone track, pausing to admire the striking dead tree, and descend to the lakes. Cross the bridge between the lakes and turn sharp left. Walk beside the lake and continue in the same direction, enjoying the Deer Park from adifferent angle, and with teasing glimpses of Eastnor Castle ahead, until your path merges with your outgoing route. Reach the main road and cross with care before returning to Eastnor church.
Start/parking Eastnor church, GR SO732372
Maps OS Explorer 190
Distance 6.5 miles
Public transport None
Nearest town Ledbury
Refreshments Malvern Hills Hotel 01684 540690/kiosk at British Camp car park
Toilets British Camp car park
Local attraction Eastnor Castle 01531 633160 www.eastnorcastle.com
*Correct as of October 2011*