RAGGED STONE & CHASE END - Up And Over To A Forest of Fungi
Updated: Jan 28, 2022
The Malvern Hills are a line of hills which are nine miles long. Most people who visit them either park in Great Malvern and climb up on to the top of the Worcestershire Beacon, or they head out to British Camp and scale the heights of the Herefordshire Beacon.
The last time Zak and I came to explore these hills, Julie managed to get us well and truly lost but today, we knew exactly where we were going.
We left the car at the side of the busy A438 and ascended a really long steep incline that took us to the top of Ragged Stone Hill. Whilst Julie struggled to climb to the top, Bruno and I engaged four-paw drive and we effortlessly raced, wrestled and tumbled our way up the hill. Once at the top, Julie snatched a breather and gazed at views that spilled in all directions.
However, having ascended Ragged Stone, we now had to follow a rather treacherous descent down the other side. The ground was soft and covered in leaves, and tree roots acted as steps. Again, four paw drive was very useful!! As Julie climbed down through the trees, she clung to any of them that would break her fall should she slip over. We were very careful not to leave her behind.
We reached the bottom of the hill – all of us in one piece, and then walked down towards White Leaved Oak, a hamlet which is named after an enormous oak tree which marked the meeting point of three counties: Worcestershire, Herefordshire and Gloucestershire. Tibetan prayer flags were once draped all over the oak tree in reverence to its great age. Sadly though, in the summer of 2020, the tree was destroyed by fire. We trotted down the road at White Leaved Oak to find the footpath to Chase End Hill. The path was smothered in sweet chestnut leaves and pale green fruit cases. Sadly, none of the chestnuts seemed big enough to eat.
Every so often there was a grey flash across the path as a squirrel dived for cover. The trees were busy with birds which still gave just enough cover to hide them. Many of the beech leaves were holey and frayed and the sunlight shone straight through, whilst elsewhere the thick, green, leathery laurel leaves cast a dark damp shade.
As we trotted on the grassy slopes of Chase End Hill, the sun illuminated a vast forest of fungi which looked like a crowded beach of pale grey parasols. Some of these toadstools were wide capped and flattened, some were stout domed mushrooms whilst others were only just poking their heads above the ground. I have no idea if any of these are edible but luckily, Bruno wasn’t tempted to try them.
We all climbed up to the trig point at the highest point on the hill. The countryside seemed to spread out like a carpet before us. The wind tousled our fur coats and it felt good to be alive.
We retraced our steps to White Leaved Oak and headed for home along the side of Ragged Stone Hill. The birds were singing, the pheasants were squawking and all was right with the world.