A circular route in the Clent Hills


Clent Hills


3.5 miles (5.7kms)

660ft (201m)

About the walk

If you are a visitor to Worcestershire then the Clent Hills provide an excellent starting point. More people visit the Clent Hills than Worcester Cathedral. Four car parks provide easy access and make the hills the county’s number one non-paying attraction. Of course, proximity to the West Midlands conurbation has much to do with it, but there is something satisfying in standing on the top as dusk falls, watching the city lights begin to sparkle in the distance.

Come up to the ridge along the Clent Hills in late April or early May and you may see not only vertical grey blocks of suburban Birmingham, but horizontal yellow blocks of modern rural Worcestershire, created by the flowers of oilseed rape. In 1971 the amount of oilseed rape grown in Britain was a mere 12,500 acres (5,059ha), but it is currently about 1.6 million acres (0.65 million ha). Most is sown in winter. Since it is prone to disease, it is advisable to plant it not more frequently than one year in six. Daffodils aside, it is now the main source of early spring colour in the countryside – Worcestershire and Herefordshire are no exceptions.

Oilseed rape, a brassica, derives its unfortunate name from the Latin word for turnip, rapum (whereas the verb comes from rapere, to snatch). Rapeseed oil is just one of many vegetable oils grown for human consumption. If your food has to be fried then rapeseed oil is a good choice – not only is it without cholesterol (as are all vegetable oils), but of the known vegetable oils, it is the one with the lowest level of saturated fatty acids. In spite of all this nutritional worthiness, however, only about 65 per cent of the rapeseed oil is made into cooking oil, with 22 per cent going to biofuel production; it is used in a number of industrial applications, too, such as lubricants.

Oilseed rape typically begins to flower in mid-April – earlier than traditional crops – for a five to six week period, so beekeepers have to mobilise their bees earlier, to exploit the available nectar. The nectar sets very quickly, so the beekeeper must extract it from the honeycomb just as the yellow hue is turning to green. Honey derived primarily from oilseed rape is almost white, has a soft texture, and a comparatively bland favour. So much oilseed rape is now grown that it has taken over from white clover as the country’s largest source of honey, although some say that white clover produced the best honey (which is not white but pale straw in colour), especially when it grew in long established, permanent pasture.

Walk directions

From the car park entrance, turn right and walk 10 paces to a stile on the left. Cross the stile and walk downhill, left of the horses’ exercise yard, to a corner field gate. Head half-right to the offset hedged corner and waymark post; turn right beside the hedge, then jig left beneath trees in 50yds (45m) to a stile into horse pasture. In 50yds (45m) climb another stile and aim half-right, pass through the old hedge-line then look diligently ahead for a kissing gate near yews into the churchyard of St Kenelm’s Church.

Leave by the lychgate. Turn left along the road for a short distance, then right at the T-junction. At the bend use the stile, on the right, off the driveway corner to The Wesleys. Climb gently uphill, aiming for the left edge of the hilltop woods, where steps lead to a lane. Turn left. Ignore a left turn but, just 30yds (27m) beyond it, take a muddy, gated narrow path into woodland up on the right, angled away from the road and not signposted. Emerge from the trees to the trig point on Walton Hill. Turn left, taking the right-hand of two options. This wide way descends, in 800yds (730m) becoming a wood-edge path beside pastures on your left. Pass by a waymarked bridleway joining sharply from the right, shortly thereafter passing a National Trust sign for Clent Hills (right). At the waymarked fork here, bear right, over a cross-path to reach a kissing gate into steep pasture. Continue ahead, downhill through two fields to find St Leonard’s Church at Clent, hidden by trees.

Turn right then right again, along Vine Lane. At Church View Cottage, opposite the church’s driveway, turn left. (Please follow these woodland directions especially carefully!) In 180yds (165m), take the upper, left fork. In 80yds (73m), at a crossing, go left. After a further 100yds (91m) ignore options to turn right or half right. Continue downhill for another 160yds (146m). Ignore the gate and stile on the left, instead starting a stiff climb ahead, up widely spaced old wooden steps. At the top of the woods cross the path to a wider track and turn right.

Keep on this broad, open path, ignoring a right fork, to reach a semi-circular, five-panel toposcope. From this take the initially level path ahead, directly back to the car park.

Additional information

Woodland paths (sometimes muddy), tracks, several stiles

Rolling rural scenery, woodland, huge views

Plenty of running on tops, under control near livestock

OS Explorer 219 Wolverhampton & Dudley

National Trust pay-and-display car park, Nimmings Wood (free for NT members)

At start

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About the area

Discover Worcestershire

Worcestershire is a county of rolling hills, save for the flat Vale of Evesham in the east and the prominent spine of the Malverns in the west. Nearly all of the land is worked in some way; arable farming predominates – oilseed rape, cereals and potatoes – but there are concentrated areas of specific land uses, such as market gardening and plum growing.

Worcester is the county town, and home to Worcestershire County Cricket Club, which has what some regard as the most attractive grounds in the country, in a delightful setting with views of Worcester Cathedral. The Malverns, Great and Little, set on the slopes of the Malvern Hills, are renowned for their refinement. Great Malvern, terraced on its hillside site, came to prominence as a genteel spa for well-to-do Victorians, rivalling the likes of Bath, Buxton and Cheltenham with its glorious surroundings.

Sir Edward Elgar was a Worcester man, and his statue stands on the High Street, facing the cathedral. The cottage where he was born is now a museum and he is commemorated on the £20 note. Other notable Worcestershire figures include poet A E Housman, chocolate magnate George Cadbury; and Lea and Perrins, inventors of Worcestershire sauce.

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