An 18-kilometre gem that traverses the entire ridge, this is our favourite walk in the Malvern Hills. Visit Eastnor Castle, spot free-roaming deer and enjoy beautiful views on the way down to the charming town of Ledbury.

Most Malvern Hills walks take a trail that undulates along a narrow ridge of hillocks like a massive slithering snake. The path crosses over the 425-metre-high Worcestershire Beacon; clambers the iron age hill fort of British Camp; and drops in on a couple of great pubs.

All the way along, views across the Severn Valley, Cotswolds Hills and Welsh Mountains combine to create a series of iconic vistas. 

As the ridge is narrow, most routes involve walking back the way you came. But our favourite of the Malvern Hills walks continues to Ledbury, where the gentle descent collects several notable sights. Visit Eastnor Estate where a folly castle and obelisk conjure visions of a privileged elite with money to burn. Amble beside a grade I listed 12th-century church and red deer grazing beside a lake. Finally, descend into Ledbury and be enchanted by romantic black and white timber buildings and cobbled laneways.

Buses and trains run regularly between Ledbury and Great Malvern making it easy to get back to your starting point after this varied and interesting walk. And of course, there’s always taxis if weary limbs just won’t make it to the bus stop. 

At 17 kilometres it’s a long walk which will take most of the day. But, in our opinion, it’s the best of the walks in the Malvern Hills. To make life easier we’ve included detailed instructions, a downloadable Google map (on which you can track yourself as you complete the walk) and public transport links.

Walking in the Malvern hills is one of the best things to do in Herefordshire and a great day out.

Ledbury to Great Malvern walk

MALVERN HILLS HIKE


SUMMARY A great walk along the Malvern Hill ridge to Ledbury

DISTANCE 17 kilometres

TIME 5 hours

ELEVATION 750 metres ascent

DIFFICULTY Medium – Nothing challenging but long

BEST TIME Late-May to mid-July

DOWNLOADABLE MAP OF THIS MALVERN HILLS WALK

We have created a map for this Malvern Hills walk which includes step by step hiking instructions. Here’s how to take the map with you so you have all the information you need at your fingertips:

1 – Click on the star to the right of the title to save the map in your Google Maps app. (You need to be logged in to Google if you are doing this on a desktop computer.

2 – To locate the map in Google Maps go to saved (the bookmark icon on the bottom menu bar), then maps (the last option in the row of menu items at the top of the app – you may need to scroll across to find MAPS. The order is: Lists – Labelled – Reservations – Following – Maps)

3 – Click on the map to start the walk. Your phone will track your location on the map so you can follow your progress.

4 – Click on the numbered marker on the map to read our hiking instructions. Either tap on the number twice or tap once and scroll the marker tab upwards to display the instructions.

PART 1 / GREAT MALVERN TO BRITISH CAMP CAR PARK

Start at the North Quarry Car Park (P on the map) and take the trailhead at the southeastern end of the car park towards North Hill. Stick to the higher path as it heads through forest. After passing Ivy Scar rock, turn very sharply right (signed to North Hill) and complete a large zig-zag up the hill. Exiting the trees, join a wide track called the Lady Howard de Walden Drive. Follow it clockwise around North Hill for 90 degrees and then turn left and take the clear trail straight up to the top of Worcestershire Beacon (1).

This is the highest part of our walk in the Malvern Hills (425m) and the views on a fine day are excellent. Great Malvern sits in the foreground, the Severn Valley stretches out to the east, and the Cotswolds shimmers in the distance. The Brecon Beacons are to the west and if the conditions are just right, Snowdonia may just be visible.

From here the trail heads south. Take either the sealed path around Summer Hill summit and past Beacon Road Car Park, or the gravel track over the hill and along the top of the ridge until it meets the main B4218. Cross the road and take the path heading up the ridge, keeping the public toilets on your right. The obvious trail now follows the top of the ridge over Perseverance Hill, Jubilee Hill and Pinnacle Hill to the top of Black Hill (2).

Follow the ridge down over another small summit and, meeting a wood, turn right and drop to the road (B4232) behind the Malvern Hills Hotel. Turn left on the road and pass public toilets to reach the large British Camp Car Park (3). At just over halfway, this is a great place to stop for a pint and munch on some bar snacks on their outdoor terrace.

PART 2 / BRITSH CAMP CAR PARK TO LEDBURY

Take the path on the right side of the car park signposted to British Camp (Herefordshire Beacon) and wind your way to the 338-metre summit. Its strange shape is due to the man-made iron age fort that used to command the views of this area.

Having absorbed the vista, head south over Millennium Hill, turn left and zig-zag steeply down before turning right. Stick to the path that keeps the forest closely on your right and after a while the path heads into the trees to Peacock Villa (4).

At the villa, turn left and then quickly right onto a wide track towards prominent Eastnor Obelisk. Built in 1812 it grandly announces the Eastnor Estate, a famous British landmark. Continue downhill, following the wide track through the deer park until you reach a T-junction. Turn left and then quickly right along a grassy track till you reach a lake. Take another quick left and right, winding between two lakes and cross over a wooden bridge.

Now head diagonally left up the hill on the other side until you reach another sealed track. Turn left and follow the track out of the deer park to the main road. The entrance to Eastnor Castle is in front of you and well worth exploring if you have the time.

Turn right on the main road, follow it for 50 meters and then turn left down a narrow track that brings you to Eastnor Church (5). Turn right on the road, then after 50 metres turn left on a public footpath that heads across fields and through the trees to Ledbury.

Ledbury is a charming English market town. Make sure to check out the lovely cobbled lane of Church Street before dropping in at the Prince of Wales for a pint.

Now all you have to do is get back.

GETTING BACK TO THE START OF THE WALK IN THE MALVERN HILLS

This walk in the Malvern Hills begins at North Quarry Car Park in Great Malvern. It is one of a number of car parks run by the Malvern Hills Trust. It opens from 6am to 11pm and costs £4.50 for the day. The ticket is transferrable to any other of their car parks.

There are 3 options to get back to the beginning of the walk after you finish in Ledbury.

TRAIN

Trains run roughly hourly between Ledbury and Great Malvern and take only 10 minutes. There are two stations in Great Malvern. Malvern Link is closest to the North Quarry Car Park (a 20-minute walk). Great Malvern Station is a little further (30-minute walk) but the route is more interesting as it takes you through Great Malvern town centre. In the interests of full disclosure, you need to add 3 kilometres to the entire 17-kilometre walk to get from Ledbury town centre to Ledbury train station, and from Malvern train station to North Quarry Car Park.

BUS

Bus routes 675 and 676 plough the route between Ledbury and Great Malvern. They are slower (30 minutes), less regular and the last one goes about 5pm. The benefit of the bus, however, is that they pick up and drop off in the town centres, so you don’t have to walk to the stations. Add 1.5 kilometres to the 17-kilometre walk to get from the bus stop in Great Malvern to North Quarry Car Park.

TAXI

If after hiking for almost 5 hours the idea of walking further and jumping on a bus or train does not appeal then grab one of the taxis in Ledbury town centre or call Malvern Taxis or Smiths Taxis. The fee should be around £20 to £25. Add no time to the 17 kilometres walk if you get a taxi.

Alternatively, you could park in Ledbury Long Stay Car Park (£4 for up to 24 hours) and take the train or bus to Great Malvern in the morning before you start your walk. That way you can aim for a specific bus or train and don’t have to do it at the end of the day when you are tired.

MORE READING FOR WALKING IN BRITAIN

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