We had planned to go for a walk at Croome Park on Boxing Day but like so much else it was closed due to flooding. So instead we went for a walk on the Malvern Hills which are only a 5 minute drive from us. I love trees especially at this time of year when their winter skeletons are so beautiful so we parked up at Earnslaw and went for a walk through the woods up to the ridge and back down. I didn’t fancy getting blown away walking along the ridge.
We recently discovered that there used to be a grand house just above Earnslaw Quarry and it wasn’t until 1884 that the Malvern Conservators bought up the land on the hills on the order of the government in order to preserve it for future generations and allow the local people use of the hills.
I particularly enjoy walking in this part of the hills as you stumble upon old walls that presumably were previously boundary walls or maybe garden features. It appeals to the romantic in me, the person who was spellbound by The Secret Garden. The walls also fuel my growing enthusiasm for moss and lichen.
Since starting to dabble in botanical art I find that I look more closely at plants and I suppose this is also partly due to the amount of photographs I take for the blog. I find myself drawn to moss and lichen more and more, they are so beautiful and so tactile. Maybe one day I might find time to try to learn which one is which.
As you can see from the photographs there were not many people, that is until we got to the ridge when it was like rush hour. I really don’t understand why people stick to the top of the hills, they have so much more to offer. I agree that the views are amazing; across to the Black Hills of Wales in one direction and to the Bredon Hills in the Cotswolds in the other. However, for me walking along the tarmac path which leads from the big car parks along the ridge loses the sense of exploration that I used to enjoy as a child walking in the Beech Woods in Finchampstead in Berkshire. The excitement of sliding down a slope and falling into a pile of leaves, of climbing a tree, of wondering at the vastness and shape of the trees none of these things can be experienced when walking, with everyone else, along a pavement along the ridge.
From the top we looked out towards Worcester and could see clearly the extent of the flooding. You can’t usually see the River Severn very clearly from the top of the hills but there was no doubt of its course on Boxing Day and it explained why a visit to Croome Park was a non-starter; even if it had been opened we would have struggled to get to it.
Having admired the view we left the day trippers behind and descended back down the hills through the woods and home.