It’s hard to beat the stunning Malvern Hills when it comes to hiking in the West Midlands of England. But, which Malvern Hills trail should you choose in this area of outstanding beauty? We highly recommend the Malvern Hills Circular Walk as the best, most convenient and efficient trail to cover the highlights of the Malvern Hills.

In this guide, we’ll detail why this is the best Malvern Hills trail option, comparing it to some other trails. We’ll also describe this trail, provide GPS-guided directions and show you some epic photos of the hike.

We’ve also put together a YouTube production, which shows off the Malvern Hills Circular Walk. Make sure to have a watch below!

For other hiking adventures in the UK, check out our NC500, Brecon Beacons and Flamborough Head to Bempton Cliffs hiking guides.

Malvern Hills Circular Walk: The Best Trail Option

According to the official Malvern Hills website, there are quite a few shorter trail options covering the Malvern Hills, such as the 4.2km North Hill and 5.6km Enclosures walks. These shorter walks wouldn’t quite satisfy our desire to explore more of the Malvern Hills.

The longest trail listed is the 15km one-way End to End route, which covers the entire spine of the Malverns. This trail option was certainly the most tempting of those listed on the official Malvern Hills website. But, there are fairly limited public transport options to connect both ends. Plus, we didn’t want to splash out on a taxi and didn’t have the luxury of car shuffling. We couldn’t quite justify doing the 30km out and back option. So, we decided on a self-made Malvern Hills Circular Walk, which would solve the one-way trail problem and result in a reasonable 20km walk.

By doing this Malvern Hills Circular Walk, you’ll experience all of the highlights along the spine of the breathtaking Malvern Hills. Plus, you’ll get to explore new territory as you return via woodland trails through Six Acre Wood. We also recommend doing this trail as a sunrise hike. That way, you’ll experience the hills during golden hour, which is a memorable experience.

Malvern Hills Circular Walk Preview

  • Type: Loop
  • Distance: 20.3km
  • Time: 5.5 hours
  • Accumulated elevation gain: 776m
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Trailhead: North Quarry Car Park (limited free street parking adjacent)

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The Malvern Hills Circular Walk

From North Quarry Car Park, you’ll find a dirt path leading you into the forest. If you’ve set off early enough, the goal is to get to one of the hills in the Northern Malverns in time for sunrise. North Hill is certainly a decent choice for sunrise. First, it’s the closest option. Second, it’s the highest of the northern Malvern Hills. Third, and most importantly, the views from there are great. This might all be true; but, we decided to head further along the trail to a spot near Sugarloaf Hill for sunrise because there are better views of the ridge trail stretching south from there.

When we visited, it was quite overcast, so it wasn’t the best of sunrises. But, you have to be in it to win it!

As mentioned, we actually took in the sunrise from a viewpoint just south of Sugarloaf Hill. You’ll find a small commemorative monument and a trig point next to the trail here. We found it an exquisite place to take in the views of the Malverns, the ridge trail and surroundings.

A map showing where Beck and I enjoyed sunrise. It's a viewpoint just south of Sugarloaf Hill
Beck and I enjoyed sunrise from this viewpoint just south of Sugarloaf Hill

Worcestershire Beacon

After watching sunrise, it’s time to continue south on the obvious trail crossing the spine of the Malverns. The next peak is the Worcestershire Beacon, which is the highest point in the Malverns at 425m. This would be another excellent point for sunrise, as your views of the hills are superb.

The next hill on this hike is Summer Hill, which is a bit underwhelming. We basically passed this one without stopping. You’ll then descend this hill, cross the B4128 road and ascend some steps, which lead to an inclined trail connecting you to the next hill along the Malverns ridge. Soon enough, you’ll be re-acquainted with fantastic views of the surrounding villages and countryside. Along this section, you’ll reach Jubilee Hill and then Pinnacle Hill.

From Pinnacle Hill, you’ll have a great vantage point of the southern Malvern Hills and some of the best views of the entire Malvern Hills Circular Walk.

Herefordshire Beacon

Once you descend Pinnacle Hill and pass Black Hill, it’s possible to begin the return loop once you reach the A449 road. But, we recommend a short out and back to Herefordshire Beacon. At 338m, it’s the highest peak of the southern Malvern Hills. This means you’ll have awesome views of some of the remaining hills along the spine such as Millennium Hill and Hangmans Hill. This helped us deal with the FOMO of not doing the End to End route, as we had views of much of that remaining route from Herefordshire Beacon.

Six Acre Wood

After enjoying the views from Herefordshire Beacon, it’s time to start the return journey! Through a combination of forest and farmland trails heading towards Colwall Stone and West Malvern, you’ll rejoin the north Malvern Hills, near Sugarloaf Hill. Most of these public footpaths meander through the quiet and quaint Six Acre Wood. Given the Malvern Hills ridge trail can get very busy, you’ll have a much quieter hike in Six Acre Wood.

Once you’ve walked through the forest and farmland trails, you’ll arrive at Brockhill Road. This part of the Malvern Hills Circular Walk is probably the least exciting, but you will pass by some cool overgrown limestone mill ruins.

Lime ruin mills on Birchwood Road
Lime ruin mills on Birchwood Road

We found Birchwood Road a convenient place to speed hike.

What is speed hiking? We like to speed hike on less interesting parts of a long hike. For instance, if you end up on a long road walk, we recommend speed hiking to cover the section quicker!

After some enjoyable speed hiking (go on, give it a try), you’ll arrive at B2432 (West Malvern Road). Cross the road and you’ll find a forest trail leading you up and towards the northern Malvern Hills. We recommend climbing to Sugarloaf Hill and North Hill as part of your return walk to ensure you’ve taken in all of the major northern-based hills of the Malverns.

There are views of Worcestershire Beacon from North Hill, where Dan walks towards the camera
Views from North Hill with Worcestershire Beacon in the distance

You’ll then descend North Hill taking a steep trail that eventually reaches a flat curved path. This path reconnects you to the trail leading in and out of the north Malvern Hills. From here, simply retrace your steps to the car park to complete the Malvern Hills Circular Walk.

Malvern Hills Circular Walk Recap

The Malvern Hills are a popular hiking destination in the West Midlands. By completing this self-made Malvern Hills Circular Walk, you’ll not only enjoy the incredible Malvern Hills but explore the quieter Six Acre Woods during the return journey. This Malvern Hills Circular Walk takes in all of the best sections and viewpoints of the Malvern Hills. Plus, this trail option is the most convenient if you’re looking for an approx. 20km walk that avoids the need to car shuffle, catch public transport, or a taxi, at the end of your hike.

For bonus tips and hiking essentials for the Malvern Hills Circular Walk, continue below.

Getting to England

Flights: If you’re planning on doing this hike from abroad, Birmingham would be the closest airport to the trailhead. You’re looking at an hour’s drive from Birmingham to the Malvern Hills. Otherwise, it’s about a 3 hour’s drive from London or 2.5 hours from Manchester.

When booking flights, use Skyscanner to search for the cheapest flights. When flying abroad, we always get the ball rolling with a Skyscanner search. Although, with the pandemic, we recommend booking directly with the airline, because it will be much easier to cancel or reschedule flights if need be.

Additionally, if you’re UK or US-based, you should sign up to Jack’s Flight Club for the best flight deal alert service. By simply subscribing to the free weekly newsletter or buying premium membership, you could save lots of money on international travel. For the Aussies, we recommend subscribing to I Want That Flight for the best flight deal alerts.

Getting to the Malvern Hills

When compared with using public transport, driving to the Malvern Hills is the easiest option. If you don’t have your own set of wheels, consider renting with RentalCars.com – they have an unbeatable free cancellation policy.

To complete the Malvern Hills Circular Walk, we recommend parking at the North Quarry Car Park. It’s a pay and display car park. For free parking, you can park on North Malvern Road opposite the car park. Spots are limited, but it’s worth having a look!

Accommodation

We were able to do this hike from home in Manchester, so we’re unable to recommend any specific accommodation. Your best bet is to search for accommodation using Airbnb or Booking.com. Although, be sure to book somewhere with a reasonable free cancellation policy, just in case!

Five Hiking Gear Essentials for the Malvern Hills Circular Walk

These are our five hiking gear essentials for the Malvern Hills Circular Walk. For a more comprehensive hiking gear list, check out our 66 Travel Accessories That You Must Travel With. Otherwise, for a general summary of everything you’d need for a trip, visit our Ultimate Packing Checklist.

Hiking Essential


Why do you need this?

See it in action


These hiking boots are extremely comfortable and a good choice for the Malvern Hills Circular Walk


This camera is hands down the best compact digital camera on the market. Lightweight, compact and durable, the Sony Cybershot RX100 VII takes brilliant photos and high-quality 4K videos

In get quite windy and wet up on the Malvern Hills, so make sure to pack a decent windproof and waterproof jacket.

This is an awesome backpack for day hikes. It has plenty of space and a handy compartment for your hydration bladder

The DJI Mavic Air 2 is an incredible drone that takes high-quality aerial footage. We were extremely happy with the photos and videos captured by this drone whilst hiking in the Malvern Hills

Trail Navigation

Hiking the ridge of the Malvern Hills is straightforward. But, the return hike uses a combination of public footpaths through forest and farm. So, this return journey can get a bit confusing, particularly if you’re unfamiliar with the area. It may be worth having GPS directions. Feel free to use our Wikiloc GPS-guided map.

For those not so prepared, if you’re needing help with directions during your hike and don’t have any phone reception, consider using Maps.me. Although, you need to have at least downloaded the map of the general area beforehand.

Bonus Tips

  • Consider the End to End route: if you’re able to car shuffle, don’t mind catching a taxi back to the trailhead or schlepping back via public transport, then you should do the End to End route. That way, you’ll cover the entire ridge of the Malvern Hills. Otherwise, you could do a 30km out and back of the End to End route.
  • Use the official Malvern Hills website: a great resource for shorter walks in the area.
  • Avoid busy periods: this walk can get very busy on the weekends and during summer. If you can visit during the week, and in winter, you’re guaranteed a quieter walk.

What’s your favourite trail in the Malvern Hills? Let us know in the comments below.


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