Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Beacon
On the 2nd of June 2022, we put the Herefordshire Beacon to its traditional use by arranging for a gas beacon to be lit on its summit. You can watch a short video of the event, providing you don’t mind bagpipes.
Natural Health Day
Together with Barton Court , we put on a Natural Health Day that included some of the outdoor and and social things that can be done in the AONB. For the hardier, there was also a ‘Wim Hof’ ice bath. Your correspondent tried it and now knows what a lemon feels like in a gin and tonic.
Colwall Parish Walking App
Our friends at Colwall Parish Council have just published 2 walks on on the Malvern Walks App #Malvernwalk app: the Martin Brent walk and the Colwall Orchards walk. Most of the work was done by our friends at #Colwall Parish Council, who will be publishing more walks here in the future. We are always keen to contribute to projects that get people out into the lesser know parts of the AONB.
Partners: Colwall Parish Council and Malvern Hills District Council ( website)
Brush Seed Harvester for Loan
In 2022, we bought a brush seed harvester to collect local wild flower seeds to create local meadows. The harvester was bought with funds from the Farming in Protected Landscapes programme and it can be borrowed by contacting Sash Warden.
Partners: DEFRA (FIPL Programme), Colwall Orchard Group.
Ledbury Poetry Festival Walks
In 2022, we joined with Ledbury Poetry Festival to run four walks within the AONB. Each had an an established author or poet leading the walk, and one was for the young poets of the area. The photo shows a ‘poetry pilgrimage’ to Little Malvern Priory, where Langland, the author of the medieval poem, Piers Plowman, was educated. What else we did, and with whom can be found on this celebratory page of our poetry walks.
Partners: Ledbury Poetry Festival
|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. To learn more about this project contact Sight Designs.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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