Today I bagged another of the Malvern Hills – Chase End Hill at the southern end of the Malvern Hills. This is the very last hill in the chain and reaches a mere 624ft (191m) but I think this walk was my favourite to date.
We started our walk in Whiteleaf Oak which is a small sprawling hamlet. I wouldn’t have known where to park or where to start the walk from by luckily my eldest had been camping on the side of the hill a few weeks before so knew exactly where to park. He was keen to come along as Chase End Hill was the last of the Malverns for him to cross off. The walk up the lower part of the hill is steady and overlooks sloping fields with horses and wonderful views with the fresh green of new leaves beginning to take over from the gaunt bare branches. Then you are faced with a short rather steep climb which you can see in the photograph above.
Looking back up the hill this is the view in front of you which is a little daunting but encouraging as you know you are very nearly there. It was a surprisingly quick climb.
As you would expect from the top of any hill the views were wonderful. Above is looking back along the Malverns to the next in the chain which is Raggedstone Hill and the first I climbed back at the end of May 2015. If you look very carefully to the left you can just see the Obelisk at Eastnor. I spent most of the time morning coverting the houses you can see at the base of the hill.
Looking the other way and you can just spot May Hill near Gloucestershire. Locally Chase End Hill is called the Gloucestershire Beacon. I don’t think this is its official name as I can find no supporting evidence for this and the name probably has come about because of the rivalry between the three counties of Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Gloucestershire, all of which can be seen from the top of the Malverns. With people living on the side of the hills either living in Herefordshire or Worcestershire it is only natural that the smallest hill should be the Gloucestershire Beacon!
Whilst the climb up had been nice it was the walk down the other side which was really special, mainly because of the sheets of bluebells whose scent filled the air. I am used to seeing bluebells on the side of the Malverns but generally amongst the trees and lower down so to see such large colonies in such an exposed location surprised me.
This part of the walk felt more like walking through some sort of 18th century landscape than a walk on the Malvern Hills. I have tried to research this hill but there is little information. However ‘Chase’ is a common name in this area and research shows that it was the name given to the ancient forest which covered this area all the way to the Severn River and out towards Hereford and is recorded as far back as Edward I. The land is inextricably linked with royal history particularly that of the Plantagenents who fought many a battle along the Welsh Marches, Gloucestershire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire. King John is buried in Worcester Cathedral which is no more than 30 minutes drive away and at one time part of the Chase belonged to Anne Neville daughter of Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, who was key in the War of the Roses. Anne went on to marry Richard III. As this is my favourite period of English history I find the associations particularly interesting.
On the lower slopes heading back down the hill the bluebells were joined by daffodils. I am convinced these are wild native daffodils, Narcissus pseudonarcissus, or Lent Lily.
Not the best photograph I know but good enough for me to look it up in my wild flower book and convince myself it is indeed the wild daffodil. Hardly surprising as we are not far from the Golden Triangle based around Dymock which is home to the Daffodil Way.
All in all a very nice walk. I only have 7 hills left to tick off but some of them I should be able to do in one walk. Of course there are many people who walk the length of the hills in one go but I want to make sure I go to the top of each hill and the paths that run the length of the hills often bypass some of the peaks. I think I have 3 or 4 more walks to do.
For the rest of my Hills reports click on the tab ‘Malvern Hills Challenge‘ along the top of the box in the side bar.