Heart of England
The Malverns in the county of Worcestershire mean different things to different people. They are known for their steep hills and views, pure spring water, the composer Edward Elgar, cultural festivals, an agricultural show, the Morgan car, education and as an area visited by Royalty and many famous personalities – blue plaques are everywhere!
The Malverns stretch over three counties – Gloucestershire, Worcestershire and Herefordshire. This quirk of geography has turned Great Malvern into an administrative centre for the region, and is where you can access a Tourist Information Centre. Great Malvern is often referred to as just ‘Malvern’.
Great Malvern has become the focal point for these three counties’ cultural activities, particularly music.
The Malvern Hills are a range of distinctive bare-topped hills in the English counties of Worcestershire, Herefordshire and a small area of northern Gloucestershire.
The range runs north-south for 8 miles (13 km), and dominates the surrounding countryside. The highest point is Worcestershire Beacon at 1,394 feet (425 metres) above sea level, but the most distinctive is Herefordshire Beacon, also known as British Camp.
The British Camp is an Iron Age hill fort thought to have been constructed in the 2nd century BC. The extensive earthworks remain clearly visible and determine the shape of the hill.
There are three passes over the hills, the Wyche cutting, the A438 road north of Raggedstone Hill and the A449 road just north of the British Camp.
Once on the top, the hills are superb places to walk, mountain bike and horse ride, with panoramic views of the Severn valley, the Welsh mountains, the Bristol
Channel, the countryside in between and the cathedrals of Worcester, Gloucester
The hills are the eroded remnants of ancient igneous and metamorphic rocks that underwent lifting and folding millions of years ago. Evidence of this upheaval can be seen at Gullet Quarry.
The granite and limestone rocks of the Malvern Hills are amongst the oldest and hardest found in England; the geology is responsible for the quality of Malvern's spring water.
Accommodation - Search & Book through Expedia here:
Another quirk of nature is the abundance of pure freshwater springs gushing out of the hills. The water is said to be the purest in the world, untainted by minerals and needing no filtration. It is no wonder that Great Malvern
became a world famous 19th century Spa Town.
Visitors no longer come to The Malverns for the Water Cure, but local residents certainly know the value of this natural resource and you will often see little groups of people filling water containers from the spouts beside the roads. They are in good company because it is the only bottled water taken by the current British monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, on her travels around the world.
The Malvern Spa Association aims “to conserve, protect and restore the Springs, Wells, Spouts and Fountains of the Malvern Hills". As part of this endeavour they have introduced the Derbyshire tradition of Well Dressing.
The Malvern Hills Conservators ensure that the region remains an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and of Scientific Interest. This means that you can see rare fauna and flora.
The acid grassland and heath on the summit and mixed broadleaved woodland on the lower hills and valleys provide habitat for High Brown Fritillary Butterflies, Dormice, Barbastelle bats, Skylarks and Buzzards, the Great Crested Newt and Adders. Black Poplar, Bracken, Gorse and Harebells thrive.
Bronze Age forts and tracks ran along the hills but in the Middle Ages a Benedictine Monastery and Priory was built at Great Malvern
as a sister house to Westminster Abbey
. The Priory Gatehouse still exists and houses the Malvern Museum
. The Priory Church survived the Dissolution and contains some fabulous medieval stained glass. Both places are well worth visiting and should be on your itinerary.
Accommodation - Search & Book through Booking.com here:
The presence of three great cathedrals in close proximity, and The Malverns’
close association with one of England’s greatest composers, Sir Edward Elgar
, has provided a natural focus in the area for choral music and other festivals. The best known is The Three Choirs Festival
Elgar was born in the small village of Lower Broadheath, near Worcester. He grew up walking, cycling and flying kites on the Malvern Hills. He was educated in Worcester and after his marriage, eventually moved back to Worcester to live. He and his wife are buried in St Wulstan Roman Catholic Churchyard in Little Malvern.
The Malverns had a great influence on Elgar’s music. In 1934, during the composer's final illness, he told a friend: "If ever after I'm dead you hear someone whistling this tune [the opening theme of his cello concerto] on the Malvern Hills, don't be alarmed. It's only me."
Theatre & Concerts
The Malvern Theatres
Complex overlooks Priory Park
in Great Malvern. This
is a high quality venue capable of staging London
West End productions. The Concert Hall’s fine acoustics attract world famous artists. For an unforgettable experience you must visit the world’s smallest theatre - The Theatre of Small Convenience
– they offer a very short performance in a totally unique venue.
If physical activity is more to your taste, facilities are located at Great Malvern
. There is an indoor swimming pool and gymnasium. Also on offer are tennis, archery, bowls, squash and table tennis. Visitors are welcome to use the facilities.
Three Counties Show
is also the centre of a rich agricultural region, the Vale of Evesham, so it is natural that the region’s biggest agricultural show should be held at the permanent showground near Great Malvern
Enthusiasts of the Morgan Motor Car will already know that these iconic cars are built just outside Great Malvern. What may be a surprise is that Guided Tours are conducted around the factory.
There is so much to see and do in the area that The Malverns
make a good touring base. There is a wide variety of accommodation available. Great Malvern
Railway Station provides direct services to Worcester, Hereford
, Birmingham, Oxford
really cater for people with disabilities. They have a wonderful website called ‘Malvern Access’. The following link goes straight to accessible walks and car parks Web: Malvern Disabled Access
Contact & Further Information
- By Car:
Excellent information is available on the Malvern TIC
- By Rail
railway station is located in Avenue Road about 0.3 miles (0.48 km) from the Barnards Green roundabout, and provides direct services to Worcester, Hereford
, Birmingham, Oxford
- By Bus
Several local bus services connect Great Malvern with the surrounding area including the 42 and S42 operated by Astons coaches stopping in Barnards Green bus shelter.
Serving areas further afield are:
- The Malvern to Worcester route 44, 44A, 44B operated by First Diamond serving stops at the Barnards Green bus shelter and Pound Bank.
- The Worcester - Upton-upon-Severn - Malvern route 362/363 operated by Diamond stops at the Barnards Green bus shelter.
- The Malvern - Gloucester
- Cheltenham route 377 (Saturdays only) operated by Diamond stops at the Court Road shops and the Barnards Green bus shelter.
- By Air
The nearest major airport is Birmingham International approximately one hour by road via the M5 and M42 motorways.
Gloucestershire Airport located at Staverton, in the Borough of Tewkesbury near Malvern has scheduled flights to destinations such as the islands of Jersey, Guernsey, and the Isle of Man.
Google Map - The Malverns