Eavesdropping on the Malvern Hills

Wed, 11/08/2010 - 12:28
Submitted by Abigail Whyte

Helen Stafford learns that it's not all about the sights and delightful views of the Malverns, it's also about what you overhear...

“I’ve something to ask you, once we reach the top,” stated one young man to his girlfriend as they climbed up to the highest point at Worcestershire Beacon. I, being an avid walker (and listener) followed at a reasonable distance, curiosity burning.

Both husband and dog were astonished at my sudden increase in pace, as I brashed up the hillside and threw a cheery, “Come along!” over my shoulder, oblivious to what I had overheard.

Once reaching the monumental peak, it’s easy to see why such a landmark would be a perfect setting to maybe ‘pop the question.’ The Malvern Hills, sometimes described as a mountain range in miniature, covers 8 miles and includes some of the oldest rocks in Britain. I’ve never experienced so much tumbling countryside in such a vast quantity; there are over 4500 acres of open rural area.

The Malvern Hills are a great place to explore and if like me, you get easily lost (even with a map) you can see the town of Malvern from most places up on the Hills. The Victorians, who took advantage of the local spring waters when Great Malvern was a prominent spa town, made many of the constructed paths that make walking the Malvern Hills very popular with walkers. The Malvern Hills AONB has designed seven discovery walks, encompassing surrounding fields and woodland as well as special interest walks, which include points of interest for the scientist or train enthusiast. The hills are steeped in history; Herefordshire Beacon, known as the British Camp, has the remains of a large Iron Age hill fort at the summit.

Admiring the view and panting louder than our Labrador retriever, I was relieved we’d kept him on a lead, the hills and commons were grazed with sheep and nesting birds can often get disturbed by loose dogs chasing them off their nests. Brightly coloured kites blustered back and forth in the gentle winds.

“I’ve never seen such an amazing view,” another walker remarked and I had to agree. We seemed to be at cloud level, witnessing sunbeams through misty rain showers, very romantic - reminding me to seek out the couple who I’d been observing. There they were, at the grey stone monument, marking the highest point, he on one knee, she giggling like a schoolgirl. A small crowd had gathered, gasps of “Ooh’s” and “Aahs” could be heard, followed by a rapturous applause as he stood up to embrace his bride-to-be.
“How lovely!” I trilled to my husband.
“Yes, apparently Mallory walked here to prepare for Everest,” was his reply, looking in the opposite direction.

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