It’s hard to beat the great Malvern Hills when it comes to walking in the West Midlands of England. But, there are many different trail options and different walks in the Malvern Hills to choose from. Which Malvern Hills Walk should you choose? Personally, we recommend the Malvern Hills Circular Walk as the best, most convenient and most efficient trail to cover the highlights of the area.
In this guide, we’ll detail why the Malvern Hills Circular Walk is the best trail option, comparing it to some other trails. We’ll also describe this circular walk, provide GPS-guided directions and show you some epic photos of the hike.
We’ve also put together a YouTube production, which shows off this circular walk. Make sure to watch below!
For other hiking adventures in the UK, check out our NC500, Brecon Beacons and Flamborough Head to Bempton Cliffs hiking guides.
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A Blog About Walking in the Malvern Hills
The Malvern Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (Malvern Hills AONB) is a superb place to walk. Emerging from the Severn Valley floodplain, the spine of the Malvern Hills is a stunning natural landscape. Stretching approx. 15km in length, there are many different trails and side trails on the hills. This means that there’s not just one classic Malvern Hills Walk. Indeed, there are tonnes of different trails to choose from.
If you’re unsure about which Malvern Hills walk to do, don’t worry! We’ll go through the most popular trail options below. Before we do that, we’ve provided a map of the Malvern Hills, just to help you get your bearings!
Malvern Hills Map
To help get your bearings, here’s an interactive map of Malvern Hills.
Malvern Hills Walking Routes
As mentioned, there are many Malvern Hills walks to choose from. Of course, our aim isn’t to cover every single walking option. We just want to share the most popular and main walks in the Malvern Hills with you!
Best Walks In the Malvern Hills
When it comes to the best walks in the Malvern Hills, we believe there are four trail options to consider. Indeed, we think these four trails are the best Malvern walks. Three of these walks are circular walks. One of these walks is a one-way walk, known as the End to End, which covers the entire spine of the Malvern Hills. We’ll discuss the End to End trail below; but first, let’s look at the three circular walking routes.
Malvern Hills Circular Walks
When it comes to circular walks in the Malvern Hills, there are three fantastic trails to choose from. Essentially, the Malvern Hills can be categorised into northern, central and southern sections. The three circular walks, that we’ll discuss below, cover these different sections of the Malvern Hills. Let’s start with the Malvern Hills Circular Walk that we did and recommend.
Malvern Hills Circular Walk: The Best Trail Option
The Malvern Hills Circular Walk that we describe in this guide is a fantastic option as you’ll experience most of the highlights along the spine of the breathtaking Malvern Hills. This walk explores the popular northernmost section, central section and provides views of the southern section of the hills.
Additionally, 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 walk. That way, you’ll experience the hills during golden hour, which is a memorable experience. Certainly, we believe this is the best circular walk of the Malvern Hills.
You’ll find the trail specs and GPS-guided map for this circular walk below.
Malvern Hills Circular Walk Map and Stats
- Type: Loop
- Distance: 20.3km
- Time: 5.5 hours
- Accumulated elevation gain: 775m
- Difficulty: Easy
- Trailhead: North Quarry Car Park (limited free street parking adjacent)
- Map: Wikiloc
Travel Made Me Do It have personally rated the trails in this guide
North Hill, Malvern
A shorter trail option, which just explores the popular northernmost section of the Malvern Hills is the North Hill walk. Indeed, the approx. 20km Malvern Hills Circular Walk may be too long a distance for some. Certainly, this shorter circular walk of North Hill is the best short circular walk, taking in some of the finest views from the hills. Have a look at the trail specs and a map below.
- Type: Loop
- Distance: 3.9km
- Time: 1.5 hours
- Accumulated elevation gain: 240m
- Difficulty: Easy
- Trailhead: Great Malvern
- Map: AllTrails
Southern Malvern Hills Circular Walk: British Camp to Swinyard Hill
If you would like to explore the southern section of the Malvern Hills, then the British Camp to Swinyard Hill walk is your best option. The circular walk that we’ll thoroughly describe in this guide, doesn’t explore the entire southern aspect of the Malvern Hills. It does explore some of it, including reaching Herefordshire Beacon, which does provide exquisite views of the southern Malvern Hills. But, if you want to explore along the southern spine of the Malvern Hills, including British Camp Reservoir, then this route is a good option.
- Type: Loop
- Distance: 7.1km
- Time: 2–3 hours
- Accumulated elevation gain: 260m
- Difficulty: Easy
- Trailhead: British Camp Car Park
- Map: AllTrails
Malvern Hills Walk End to End
One of the longest trail options is the 15km one-way End to End walk, which covers the entire spine of the Malvern Hills. Personally, this trail option was tempting. But, there are relatively limited public transport options to connect both ends. Also, 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 doing the circular walk, which we’ll describe in this guide.
With all of that in mind, we’d still recommend doing 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 walk. 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.
- Type: One-way
- Distance: 16.9km
- Time: 2–3 hours
- Accumulated elevation gain: 830m
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Trailhead: North Quarry Car Park
- Map: AllTrails
Other Malvern Walks
Certainly, there are many other Great Malvern walks and varied trail route options to consider. Some of these other walks around Malvern are easy walks in the Malvern Hills similar to the North Hill Walk. There are other circular walks around 10–20km in distance, encompassing different sections of the Malvern Hills. For a list of other walks in the Malvern Hills, head here.
The Malvern Hills Circular Walk: Trail Description
Now that we’ve covered different trail options, we’ll describe the Malvern Hills Circular Walk that we did.
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.
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, briefly follow Beacon Road, 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.
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.
We found Birchwood Road a convenient place to speed hike.
What’s 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.
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 circular walk, you’ll not only enjoy the incredible Malvern Hills but explore the quieter Six Acre Woods during the return journey. This circular walk takes in all of the best sections and viewpoints of the Malvern Hills. Additionally, 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 information about how to get to the Malvern Hills, bonus tips and hiking essentials, continue below.
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.
If you don’t have a car or want to hire a car, it’s possible to access the Malvern Hills via Great Malvern Train Station. But, getting there is quite the journey. From the closest sizeable town, Birmingham, there are quite a few stops and connections that you’ll need to take. This all adds up to quite a long and drawn-out journey. That’s why we don’t recommend using public transport to get to the Malvern Hills.
Malvern Hills Parking Options
There are many different Malvern Hills parking options to consider. Let’s look at the two best Malvern Hills parking options below.
North Quarry Car Park: The Best Malvern Hills Car Park
To complete the Malvern Hills Circular Walk, we recommend parking at the North Quarry Car Park (AKA the Malvern Hills Circular Walk 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! If you’re doing the North Hill walk, this would be your car park of choice.
British Camp Car Park
Located in Little Malvern, the British Camp Car Park is another option for parking in the Malvern Hills. By parking here, you’ll start the Malvern Hills Circular Walk at the southern end, rather than the northern end. The British Camp Car Park is a larger car park than the North Quarry Car Park. You’d also choose the British Camp Car Park if you’re exploring the southern Malvern Hills.
Accommodation: Malvern Hills Hotels
If you’re looking for a place to stay in the Malvern Hills, we recommend staying in Great Malvern. There are plenty of great accommodation options in Great Malvern. Best of all, you’ll be well placed to hike in the Malvern Hills, from Great Malvern. We’ve handpicked the best Malvern Hills hotels below.
Otherwise, your best bet for Malvern Hills hotels is to search for accommodation using Booking.com. Although, be sure to book somewhere with a reasonable free cancellation policy, just in case!
Malvern Hills Camping
There a quite a few Malvern Hills camping options. But, the most highly-rated and popular place to camp in the Malvern Hills is the Malvern Hills Club Campsite.
Below, we’ll answer the most frequently asked questions about the Malvern Hills.
How High Are the Malvern Hills?
Most of the peaks along the Malvern Hills are around 400 metres above sea level. Although, the highest point of the Malvern Hills is Worcestershire Beacon, which is 425 metres above sea level.
How Long Is the Malvern Hills Walk?
It depends on which walk you choose to do! Our guide talks about the four best Malvern Hill walk trail options in detail here. In this section, you’ll find information about the distances of these Malvern Hills walks.
What Is the Best Walk in the Malvern Hills?
In our humble opinion, the best Malvern Hills walk is the circular walk described in this guide!
Where Do You Park to Walk Malvern Hills?
Head to Malvern Hills Parking Options for more information.
How Long Is the Malvern End to End Walk?
The End to End Walk is around 17km long.
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.
Five Hiking Gear Essentials
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.
- Merrell Moab Mid Gore-Tex Hiking Boots: these hiking boots are super comfortable and lightweight.
- The North Face Venture Jacket: a fantastic windproof/waterproof jacket.
- Osprey Skarab 30L Day Backpack: a great backpack for hiking, which has plenty of space to store your gear.
- The North Face TKA Glacier Fleece Jacket: an excellent warmth:weight ratio fleece jacket that’ll help keep you warm.
- Columbia Convertible Trousers: a value for money pair of water-resistant convertible trousers.
Malvern Hills Walking Maps: Finding Your Way Around
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 using a walking app, so you have 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.
Further Information About Malvern Hills Walks
- 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, from the start, right to the very end.
- Car shuffle with friends: by doing so, you could easily manage the End to End route. This means you’ll get to walk the entire spine of the Malvern Hills.
- Spend the weekend and explore different walks: why not spend a few days around the Malvern Hills? Instead of doing one long walk, you could choose to do a few shorter trail options.
What’s your favourite trail in the Malvern Hills? Let us know in the comments below.
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