Lately I’ve been thinking you don’t need to go far from home to find other worlds; places where you feel taken out of yourself and far removed from familiar routines. And so it proved last weekend. We crossed the southerly border out of Shropshire, and climbed into the Malvern uplands. On either the hand, east and west, the farming shires of Worcester and Hereford spread out beneath us, Gloucestershire to the south; in every sense, then, the green pastoral heart of England. And it was all thanks to my sister Jo and her chap, Bob, who were kind enough to take us away with them for three nights in Peacock Villa in a quiet wooded corner of the Eastnor Estate.
I should say at once that the cottage did not come with peacocks, but it did have a fine view of an obelisk. And there was silence too. Lots of silence when the pheasants weren’t calling or the woodpeckers drilling. And by night the kind of darkness that allowed you to gaze and gaze at the stars.
When I woke on Saturday morning this was the scene from the bedroom window.
The 5,000 acre Eastnor Estate belongs to descendants of the Somers Cocks family whose antecedents arrived in Eastnor at the end of the 16th century. The family grew in wealth and status during the 18th century, and by 1811 was building for itself a Neo-Norman extravaganza that is Eastnor Castle, a country pile of (deemed) appropriate grandeur for the Ist Earl Somers. The obelisk, which stands on the highest easterly point from the castle displays inscribed highlights of the Somers Cocks family’s political successes and dynastic unions. It also commemorates the loss of a son, an intelligence officer on the Duke of Wellington’s staff who died in 1812 during the Peninsular War (1807-14) (wherein British forces were protecting Portugal during the conflict between Napoleon and Bourbon Spain). If you stand with your back to the westerly face of obelisk you can see the castle and the deer park. On a hazy late March day it all looks more than a touch surreal.
Later that morning we took to the path through Gullet Woods behind the house, climbing ever upwards on well-worn tracks to the Malvern Hills. Our objective, a mile or so along the ridgeway from Swinyard Hill (though after much upping and downing) was British Camp on the Herefordshire Beacon. This magnificent prehistoric cum early Middle Ages site, is a multi-phased hillfort begun in the Bronze Age three and half millennia ago, re-worked and massively ramparted and inhabited in the Iron Age and then, a thousand years on, adapted into a Saxon ring and bailey castle, perhaps by Earl Harold Godwinson himself (the future but short-lived king of England). Next, under Norman rule and during The Anarchy (1135-1153) of King Stephen’s reign, the motte and bailey were refortified and serially occupied by Waleran de Beaumont, 1st Earl of Worcester, and then by his brother, Robert de Beaumont, 2nd Earl of Leicester.
At its highest point British Camp stands at 1,109 feet (338 metres), and when you reach it and look out on the ridgeway tracks that snake over hill after hill you know you’ve reached the top of the world; that you’re standing on ground once walked over by prehistoric Celts, that resounded to the drumming hooves of horses as Harold and his men set off on a day’s hunting; that later rang to grim sounds of battle during The Anarchy, and finally to the shouts and hammering of determined demolition in 1155 under King Henry II.
All of which is to say my photos scarcely do British Camp justice, nor show the scale and immensity of the hand-dug Iron Age ramparts, but you can find some stunning aerial views and a detailed survey of the site HERE
A VERY BIG THANK YOU, JO AND BOB
And now for Elgar who loved and lived near these hills during different phases of his life.
If ever after I’m dead you hear someone whistling this tune on the Malvern Hills, don’t be alarmed, it’s only me.
Edward Elgar referring to his Cello Concerto:
See also Ken Russell’s marvellous, if rather dated b & w 1962 film on Elgar, Portrait of a Composer. This is the link to the first of 4 parts. Watch it, if only for the opening sequence:
copyright 2019 Tish Farrell
Linking this to Jo’s Monday Walk
Please pop over there for a marvellously blue-sky excursion.
54 thoughts on “Stepping Through Time And Space In the Malvern Hills [Cue Edward Elgar]”
I loved this post because it’s about an area I thoroughly enjoy and an area where my grandfather spent a great deal of time. He was a violinist and a great lover of Elgar and walking the Malvern Hills….Stunning photographs all of which makes me want to visit there again soon. Thank you. Janet 🙂
That’s a lovely image of your grandfather. Was this the one who lived in Herefordshire – you posted some splendid old photos a while ago?
He was actually born in Leominster…..such a lovely man – although he died when I was quite young I remember him so well.
Although I wanted to we never did actually make it to the Malvern Hills. Looks like there are lots of trails over the hills, but I bet it is hard going. Thank you for taking me there.
Indeed it was a challenge in places, especially walking back up British Camp from the cafe way, way below. More than a brownie was needed for extra stoking purposes.
Thank you for taking me on the walk, Tish, and to Elgar territory. That is sublime piece of music. I haven’t heard it for such a long time. My son was lucky enough to play first clarinet when Elgar’s Cello Concerto was performed by the Canberra Youth Orchestra a number of years ago. Wish he still played.
That’s a lovely snippet about your son, Tracy. I feel this post is acquiring other people’s stories 🙂
🙂 That is nice.
Malvern, Elgar, and Guantanamo:
A shocking story we all should read, but thank you Elgar and the Malverns for the survival strategy.
Thank you for the enjoyable walk, Tish! These photos are fabulous. 🙂
Thanks for coming along, Amy.
Thank you for this wonderful post. I had not heard the Elgar cello concerto in years and to hear it again, played by such a master, was wonderful, especially after those photos. I wish I could walk right into those hills.
Glad this post hit the spot, Angela.
Thanks so much, Tish! Looks like you had a great few days. What a world, hey? 😍🌷🍨💕
Aren’t we lucky – each in our little corners of it 🙂
What a beautiful peaceful place.
It certainly amazed me.
I would have loved it there, Tish. So glad to have followed you today! Love the landscape, the castle in the haze, the rolling hills – and Elgar. Thank you for a lovely walk.
So pleased you could come, Ann-Christine 🙂
So am I.
What a wonderful area to have a break in, Tish. The scenery/views are absolutely stunning, & so are your photographs. No wonder Elgar was so inspired! Such fascinating history in the area too. What a great post!
Thanks for that glowing comment, Debbie 🙂
Wow – looks like an amazing place! Would love to visit sometime. Great photos 🙂
What a lovely spot!
Am amazed it’s taken me so long to discover it 🙂
Beautiful! And a few of the pictures remind me of West Virginia, USA. ❤️🦋🌀
Many thanks, Sheila. Just been looking at some West Virginia landscapes via google and can see the likeness.
We are visiting Scotland, Ireland, and England late June and will definitely be comparing the landscapes. ❤️
Lots of landscapes to go at in Scotland and Ireland 🙂
I’ve never heard of British Camp, but what a wonderful walk, you must be very fit!
It was quite challenging, Gilly. All a matter of small steps and not too fast!
Looking at the slopes of those hills, I’m thinking these aren’t trails for the faint of heart!
It’s such beautiful country and I know I’ve said this a thousand times, but the depth of history makes my head swim!!
In this case, Joanne, all the history was making MY head spin, and I didn’t cover everything!
And idiots go mountain-biking on this? … may their tires never inflate again!
It is a magnificent work. 🙂
Ah yes, mountain bikers and runners on a mission – always about them! I have to say there were moments when I could have used some stretcher bearers!
Well, stretcher bearers are completely different! 🙂
Sublime indeed, Mike 🙂
This was delightful, Tish! Yes, one doesn’t need to travel far to see beauty. The view from your window is enough to fill one with joy. Thank you for the Elgar piece, too.
Yes, thank you, Elgar 🙂 And thank you, Jennie.
You are welcome, Tish.
music connection was fantastic – and the chilling quote
“it’s only me”
I’m sure he is a very friendly spirit 🙂
Great English images. England is an ancient country.
It is indeed, Pete. And after that hike some of us felt equally ancient 🙂
Finally found time to watch the videos. 🙂 🙂 And re-follow because WP has ‘undone’ me 😦
WP is such a slippery thing these days. Hope all is well with you and Mick 🙂
Despatched the youngest back home and paid for an MOT on the car. I do miss him 🙂 🙂
Nothing’s simple, is it!
What a great Sunday morning read, and listen some too. Loved the picture of the castle in particular…looked like it would have been long, long ago. A great outing – thank you Tish!
Glad you could pop over, Helen 🙂