Examples of projects supported by the AONB

The Climate of the Malverns.

The climate is nowadays the topic of small talk and political policy. A professional meteorologist has been recording the vagaries of the climate in the Malverns for over 40 years. He’s distilled all his knowledge into a booklet available by clicking here.

Poetry for people

Through the kindness of local landowners, we were able to unlock many of the hidden places of the AONB, so that poetry could be quietly be composed there. ‘Quietness’ was not the word when local schools came to see a magnificent cloud hedge. Our poet, Jean Atkin, channelled their noisy enthusiasm into poems and the BBC picked up on the project.

Partners: Landowners and Ledbury Poetry Festival

Poetry in the landscape

To raise a poem about the hills, lifts the spirit better than pills. So the Rambling Balding came to see, the poems and poets of the AONB.

We participated in a walk for Radio 4s Rambling programme, which was inspired by an AONB funded poetry project.

Partners: Ledbury Poetry Festival

Parents and babies take to the Hills

A grant was awarded to the Malvern Hills branch of the NCT to develop and promote ‘Mondays Up The Malverns’ walks in the AONB for new parents with babies in slings. To make this accessible for all, slings that can be borrowed free of charge were also funded. A great initiative to encourage good physical and mental health in parents with young children.

Partners: National Childbirth Trust, Worcestershire County Councillors, photo thanks to K-North photography

Dog owners: pick up and light up

A local inventor has tackled two issues in one go; one of what to do with dog muck and the other of how to develop cheap, renewable energy. He has engineered a small biodigester that can turn dog muck into gas, which in turn, can fuel a Malvern Gas Lamp in West Malvern. Funding has been awarded to help develop this initiative.

Partners: Sight Designs Ltd.

 

Dog muck light shines across the world

As above, the ‘gas from dog muck’ project has been through many stages and has warranted international attention. Another phase of the project attracts Tokyo TV and ensures the Malvern Hills AONB and its residents are recognised worldwide.

Partners: Transition Malvern Hills, Sight  Designs Ltd.

Route to the Hills

Don’t come by car: train it, and walk from Great Malvern Station following a trail that shows off all Malvern’s considerable achievements. The AONB was part of a small management group that oversaw the project.

Partners: Malvern Hills District Council, Malvern Town Council, Heritage Lottery Fund

Finding rare species in the Malverns

An AONB grant aided a volunteer-led project run by the Worcestershire Biological Records Centre (WBRC) and largely funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund to collect data on species in the the northern territories of the AONB, where there’s currently a dearth. From this will come projects to manage what’s there and encourage what’s not.

Partners: WBRC, Heritage Lottery Fund, the good citizens of the northern AONB territories

Pears for your heirs

An antidote to the quick-buck world is planting perry pears: they live for many human generations. Grants have been given to plant these antidotes whose names, such as Hendre Huffcap will remain in the mind, and landscape, long after their planters are themselves underground.

Visitor map and guide

The pursuit of the visitor £ is vital to many enterprises in the area: so is maintaining the beauty that attracts. A map and guide was compiled that shows what can be enjoyed within the area, without scarring the beauty.

Partners: Robin Elt Shoes, Malvern Walking Festival, Leadon Vale Ramblers, Malvern B&B Consortium, Eastnor Castle, Visit Worcesterhire, Visit Herefordshire

The book of (wild) life

Never before has there been one book that covers all aspects of wildlife and natural history on the Malverns: likewise, never before have so many local experts given of their time freely to write such a book. Thus The Nature of the Malverns is now available to buy. A grant was given to help cover costs and any profits return to wildlife projects in the area.

Project Partners: Ian Duncan and his editorial team, Pisces Books and the Malvern Hills Trust

Tramper on the hills

Not in possession of your own hips or knees? Hire the Tramper mobility scooter to get you up the Beacon. This you can do from Cafe H2O. A grant was given to set up this great project which has now led to a second Tramper now being available to hire.

Project Partners: Cafe H2O, Wyche Innovation Centre

Cycle hire

People often find their bikes too big for car boots or a burden on public transport, so to enable cycling enjoyment for those visiting the area, a grant was given help set up a cycle hire company in the West of the AONB.

Partner: local businessman Brian Wilce

The past beneath our feet

People have built and dug on the hills for thousands of years. Here on British Camp, a geophysical survey took place, and revealed structures that may be bronze age.

Partners: Victoria County History Society

Baby feed and change tent

New parents are responsible for nature’s call twice over when with their baby: this often makes them reluctant to venture out. However a small grant was given to the National Childcare Trust to buy and equip a tent to take to events in the AONB, such as at the Three Counties Showground.

Partners: NCT and a Worcestershire County Councillor

Mystery ditch history

A grant was awarded to a local heritage expert to help develop a leaflet and app that help identify and interpret the seventeenth century ditches on the hills. Thanks to the Battle of Worcester Society whose re-enactment made for some fun publicity.

Partners: Local expert George Demidowicz, Malvern Hills District Council, Malvern Hills Trust

Orchard trail

Colwall owes much of its early prosperity to fruit growing  – alas, sadly no longer. However, the ever imaginative Colwall Orchard Trust are showing people the delights of orchardeering. And an orchard heritage trail, partly grant- aided by the AONB, brings together on the  ground, the importance of fruit to Colwall.

Partners: Colwall Orchard Trust

Through the soles to the soul

Often thought of as a sedentary pursuit, many Buddhist traditions encourage walking mindfully as a form of meditation: and as we all know ‘mindfulness’ is a tonic for the troubled mind. A grant was given to a local buddhist centre to run a mindfulness walk along the Hills.

Partner: Buddhist centre, Malvern

Volunteers bare rocks

Squeezing such differing landscapes into such a small area, is a story best told through geology. A dedicated group of volunteers, headed up by the Earth Heritage Trust and armed with spades, mattocks and sickles has been uncovering the important geological sites that punctuate the story.

Partners: The local Earth Heritage Trust and many enthusiastic landowners

Hope End Park

The park was the setting for  a remarkable house, now knocked down, built in ‘Brighton Pavilion’ style. The parkland around it, is on Historic England’s register, but is owned by 6 different owners. Attempts are being made the AONB to draw the owners together to a agree to a plan for the park, and conserve its ‘gardenesque’ features.

Planting Elms

Elm trees were a dying breed, but now disease resistant varieties can be bought from specialist nurseries. Local landowners were given a grant to plant such trees, and so bring back some of the happier memories of the blighted 1970s, before Dutch Elm Disease took its toll.

Butterfly rocks

The Grayling butterfly basks on rock faces: nature and time construe to shade those faces. Butterfly Conservation, the Malvern Hills Trust and the AONB, teamed up to use volunteers and contractors to clear scrub and improve the habitat for the Grayling on the Northern Hills.

Partners: Malvern Hills Trust, Butterfly Conservation, lots of volunteers and thanks to Mel Mason for the photo

Malvern health walks … again

Malvern came to fame for the water cure several centuries ago. The sick were put on strict diets and told to walk around the hills drinking water from various springs and spouts. The exercise and diet cured many: and now you can follow in their foot steps with this leaflet: all paid for by a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, administered by the AONB.

Partners: Heritage Lottery Fund, Malvern Spa Association

Burying Power Cables:

The AONB unit has been working with Western Power Distribution to bury overhead power cables within the area. To all but the swallows, the removal of the cables and poles has been a blessing on the eye.

Partners: Western Power Distribution, numerous landowners

Walking and Cycling Guide to the Hills

Whilst walkers can go anywhere on the Malvern Hills, cyclists should stick to the bridle paths… but how to find them? Malvern Hills Trust created a thorough map and guide to the paths and bridleways on the Hills with the help of local cycling groups and walkers. A small grant was given to assist in the publication of the guide.

Partners: Malvern Hills Trust

Hedgelaying

Hedges planted, hedges laid: we’ve grant aided both. Laying hedges is all about restructuring the hedge so that as it grows older and gaps appear at its ankles, the bushy bits at the top are ‘laid’ horizontally to cover the gaps. The life of the hedge is longer; livestock can no longer wander thru it, and wildlife has a covered walkway to move along.

 

Literary Trail

Not everyone’s lost for words when faced by Nature’s beauty: and the Malverns have inspired and spawned much literature from poets and authors. Now brought together in a trail, which is both a self-guided booklet and can also be taken as a guided tour.

Electric bike hire

A great new initiative from the Colwall Car Club was supported by the SDF. Electric bikes are now available to borrow, allowing those with limited fitness (or motivation!) to make the ups and downs of cycling a breeze. A great push for physical health as well as encouraging less traffic on the roads of the AONB.

Partners: Transition Malvern Hills.

 

Bifurcating spout

Many of the wells and spouts of the AONB were restored under a Heritage Lottery Fund grant. At Hayslad spout there was just one spout, and the English queued silently.  With thoughts of the chatter at an African drinking well, a double spouted head was put on: and water collecting became sociable again; until people blocked the spouts with bottle tops! Rodding required.

Partners: Heritage Lottery Fund, Malvern Hills Trust, Malvern Spa Association

Cattlegrids and grazing commons

Graziers on the commons don’t have the time to chase their livestock when it wanders off the common, so are reluctant to put the stock on the common in the first place. Chase End hill was just one such common. The AONB led the way to grid the public roads that entered the common, and so restore the grazing and the open landscape.

Partners: Worcestershire County Council, Bromesberrow Estate, Heritage Lottery Fund, Natural England

Sun power by example

Often, changes to public buildings serve as an example to the private owner. Colwall Village hall enjoyed a small grant to help towards solar panels. By keeping running costs low, they help the local community; and the globe might just see a tiny drop in its carbon dioxide levels.

Partner: Colwall Village Hall

Multiplying adders

The Malverns are one of last redoubts of the adder. Populations are becoming isolated and incest breeds. To help populations out-breed, adders on the Hills were radio-tracked to find out the best habitats to encourage adder travel. This has then fed into the management of the land.

Partners: Nigel Hands, Malvern Hills Trust, Hereford Amphibian and Reptile Team, Photo thanks to Nigel Hand

Ditch your car for a club

Funding has historically been awarded to the Malvern Hills Car Club to help make the group viable. If two cars are too much, but you can’t do without them both all the time, then ditch one and join the Car Club where you can borrow a vehicle to suit your needs.

Partner: Transition Malvern Hills

Bike off the hills

The Malvern Hills can only sustain so many mountain bikes: and yet there are interesting routes within the AONB that are off the hills. We produced a guide to the routes, with the help of local expert Colin Palmer, in the hopes that some of the pressure might be taken away from the hills.

Brookside lightening

Brooks need light, and dappled light is often best. A brook bank that’s too overgrown with trees shades out wildlife. So, with the Severn Rivers Trust, the AONB employed a tree contractor to dapple the light along a shady part of the Mathon brook.

Partners: Severn Rivers Trust, Landowners

A training walk

Tired of walking just the spine of the hills? Then try this walk that goes from Ledbury to Colwall, via Eastnor and the Hills, using the train to return to Ledbury.

Partners: Eastnor Castle Estate, Malvern Hills Trust

Insulating houses

It makes sense to insulate your home before installing expensive heating systems: but how best to do this? Sight Designs, a local company, surveyed houses in the area with a thermal imaging camera that pinpointed the ‘cold spots’ in a house. Many, who had double glazing fitted, were surprised to see how the fitting could have been better.

Partners: Transition Malvern Hills, Sight Designs Ltd.

Colwall Stone

After the AONB helped clear up the clutter of signs around the ‘stone of Colwall Stone’, we helped fund a building stone project run by the Earth Heritage Trust. Local myth claims the giant who lived Giant’s Cave (aka Clutter’s) tossed this stone from the hills, to squash his runaway lover. Geologists have debunked this by pointing out that the ‘stone’ is sedimentary rock and the cave is igneous. The photo is of the ‘debunking’ geologists, and what is thought to be a mounting block.

Partners: H&W Earth Heritage Trust, Colwall Parish Council

The craft case

This is not fly-tipping, but evidence of how, with a little ingenuity, rubbish can be recycled into useful things. A grant was given to two crafty ladies to go into schools and show the children how to transform, say a milk bottle into a butterfly decoration. With this came messages about waste, plastics and recycling.

Gas lights: loved and looked after by locals

The AONB and SDF fund proudly supported a local inventor who saved the famous listed gas lamps of Malvern (think C. S. Lewis and Narnia). He ingeniously redesigned them to run efficiently and is also part of a group of enthusiastic locals, known as the ‘Gasketeers’, who now maintain them.

Partners: Transition Malvern Hills, the Gasketeers

 

Local History

A sense of history = a sense of place. A local group of parishes, all touching the commons, came together to create that sense of place thru a booklet and public exhibitions. They uncovered more than they could imagine, including evidence of a far greater police presence than can ever be seen these days. A grant was given to put memories to paper.

Partners: Birtsmorton, Castlemorton and Hollybush Archive Group

Local bat-spotters equipped

Bats are often good indicators of a healthy landscape; and local people appreciate this. So to encourage their interest, a grant was provided to buy equipment such as bat detectors to monitor bats’ whereabouts.

Partners: Malvern Hills Trust, Vincent Wildlife Trust

Big Green Bus

Try not to run your bus on chip oil! Brigit Strawbridge brought her Big Green Bus into the AONB. It’s full of ‘save the planet’ ideas, and demonstrations. It spent longer here than planned because the fuel, chip oil, blocked its injectors; and so more people had longer to learn more. A grant was provided to get the bus into the AONB to attend events.

Partners: Colwall Greener, Transition Malvern Hills

Miles without Stiles 

To the infirm, a country stile might look as daunting as Becher’s Brook. To open up more paths around the villages of the AONB, we got together with Herefordshire Council to provide circular routes without hurdles.

Partners: Herefordshire Council

 

Electric Cars: low charge

The Malvern Car Club was an early adopter of electric cars, allowing people to try them for a small charge. Sadly it might have been too early for the technology, as the vehicle developed faults and none was able to sort out the viper’s nest of wires under the bonnet. Fortunately the vehicle was only ‘leased’, with the help of a grant from the AONB, and the car club goes from strength to strength.

Partners: Malvern Car Club

‘Letterboxing’ on the Malverns

Getting young children onto the Hills shouldn’t be difficult, but can be: a breed of treasure hunt, known as ‘letterboxing’ helps. A grant was provided for specially designed ink stamps, which were placed around the the hills.  Children, armed with a notebook then collected the stamps.

Partners: Malvern Hills District Council, Malvern Hills Trust

Local Food

The area is rich in local food producers and the Malvern Hills Food Alliance created a website to connect them to the customer. It was also a place to offer some of that heavy crop of quinces that you’d never harvest, to others. A grant was given to create the website.

Partners: The Malvern Hills Food Alliance

Back in the hedges

Just 40 years ago farmers were being paid to remove hedges: but now it’s acknowledged that they are natural wildlife highways they are keen to replant the new prairies. Many landowners have done so with the help of small grants.

Partner: Local landowners

Malvern stone bank 

Malvern Stone is no longer readily available due to modern restrictions on extraction. Yet such stone adds to the character of the area; it is a shame to see it skipped and sent to landfill, and so a grant was given to set up a stone bank where it can be stored for later use.

School gardens

Children seem keen to learn about Nature in the most practical way: gardening and growing veg in this case. Then commerce comes in as they ply their veg to parents at the school gate to buy more seeds. A number of schools in the area have had grants to  create this virtuous circle.

Partners: the Schools of Colwall, West Malvern, and Malvern Wells

Disco walks

We have produced a series of walks to accentuate the beauty and history of the AONB: the Discovery Walks, affectionately known as the ‘Disco walks’ should be attempted with the minimum of glitter, and stout shoes.

Partners: Volunteers, Colwall Parish Council and local landowners.

 

Knapp and Papermill education room:

If you can’t see it, you can’t understand it, and if you can’t understand it you won’t value it: that’s the principle behind Nature education. When the Worcestershire Wildlife Trust asked for a grant to build an education room at their Knapp and Papermill reserve within the AONB, we were only too happy to oblige.

Partners: Worcestershire Wildlife Trust

Smarter Meters

All the rage now, but smart meters were in Malvern long ago. An ex DERA engineer put together a comprehensive pack to measure and tell the householder, just exactly how much energy, appliances used: the greedy could then be turned off. The packs were loaned from the libraries, and all returned well-used.

Partners: Transition Malvern Hills, Sight Designs Ltd.

Bike route from Worcester to Malvern

Only the brave and the foolish would cycle along the busy roads from Worcester to Malvern. Yet many would like the exercise. So Sustrans was given a grant to produce a feasibility study for a cycleway.

Partner: Sustrans, Worcestershire County Council

Tree Bog Loo

Down at Colwall Village Garden, we helped build a loo. It has no drains and plenty of fresh air. Really it’s a compost loo on stilts, and was built because the Village Garden, with its allotments and orchards has become a popular education centre. Where better to learn about sustainable development than on a quiet visit to the loo.

Partners: Colwall Orchard Trust

 

Health from the hedges:

To some, herbalism is white-witchery, but what grows in the hedgerows can be made into effective potions. So a grant was given to run courses to open people’s eyes to the treasures in the hedges, and how to make potions out of them.

Partner: Pestle and Daughter

Hills Hopper bus service 

Now sadly defunct, but designed to take walkers to one end of the hills and let them walk back. A great project that helped offer an alternative to more cars in the area.

Partners: Worcestershire County Council, Malvernian Tours

Holywell Spring Water 

With help from the left overs of a Heritage Lottery Grant to the AONB,  Holywell (the building) was restored. This enabled Mike Humm to restart bottling water at the plant. The photo shows Mike and Dr John Harcup of the Malvern Spa Association in front of the newly restored public drinking font at Holywell well house.

Partners: The Heritage Lottery Fund, Holywell Spring Water, Malvern Spa Association

Bringing life to churchyards

Our churchyards are nearer to  heaven for wildlife than much of our countryside: they have remained uncultivated for centuries. But with a little help from the human hand, the seeds of greater diversity can be sown. Caring for God’s Acre (CFGA) produced a leaflet on our life-thriving churchyards and advice on helping them flourish.

Partners: CFGA and the churches of the AONB.

Fancy bug dress

Small children seem to like acting out what key orchard insects do in the orchard. It’s much more fun to act out  if you can dress up as a brown wood ant, for instance. A small grant was given to produce some fancy dress bug suits………and it was a strange gratification to see that adults had no shame in using them as well.

Neutralising crayfish invaders

The Signal Crayfish, from the across the pond, have invaded our streams and rivers, killing our native species and undermining stream beds. A group of volunteers are scientifically controlling the numbers by methods that cannot be mentioned before the 9 o’clock watershed.

Partners: Severn Rivers Trust, Suckley Hills Streams Improvement Group

Thinning Woods

Unusually we’ve helped a local landowner use a ‘minesweeper’ to thin an area of stick-thin trees. Sadly the trees have no commercial value and this ‘minesweeper’ just munches its way through the woods, creating ‘racks’ of clear space that amounts to thinning the crop.

Biochar

Many forestry operations, such as coppicing are barely commercially viable. Biochar was an attempt to increase the value of the products coming from coppicing. Charcoal, made from coppice sticks, can carry many nutrients for plant growth and improve soil structure: it’s christened biochar, and a grant was given to a local coppicer to see if there was a market for such a product.

Malvern Munch

Walk and eat: a perfect combination; and that’s what the Malvern Munch was about. Paying guests took a walk around the hills, stopping at various venues to enjoy the local delicacies. A grant was provided to help set this up.

Partners: Malvern Hills District Council, local food producers