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  • Julie Muller


Updated: Jan 28, 2022

(nearest post code HR8 1SE)

Visited by Zak and Shep

Ragged Stone and Chase End Hill are situated at the most southerly point of the Malvern Hills. They are not as well-known and visited as all of the other hills because they are separated from them by the busy A438. That doesn’t mean that they are not well used though – especially at weekends.

The hills are just a short car journey from home and Julie brought Shep and I to visit them one weekday morning.

As we jumped out of the car we were greeted by a very confident terrier who was clearly very much in charge of its owner. Despite all of her efforts, he insisted on saying ‘hello’ and dancing into the road avoiding all of her efforts to capture him. I was really worried and we hovered around to make sure that he jumped safely back into his car.

Our aim was to climb up the steep slopes of Ragged Stone Hill and then to descend to the hamlet of White Leaved Oak. Julie had some very old maps to follow and we started off by walking on a path parallel with the road. The path led us through a small coppice and we squeezed under the stile to access it. The paths were wet and sticky underpaw. Huge trees lay across it, birds chattered excitedly and we walked between broom bushes even taller than Julie. It was really exciting and the smell of the earth waking up from winter pervaded the air. Upon exiting the wood, we trudged up a very steep incline. Julie took it slowly and we emerged on the top of Ragged Stone Hill. The wind was blowing a gale and craggy rocks broke the surface of the soil. A beautiful light green lichen clothed the rocks and carpeted the bare ground contrasting with vibrant green moss. Shep and I raced to the summit and surveyed the view.

Zak, a Border Collie, strides along the jagged rocks of Ragged Stone Hill, near Ledbury in Herefordshire
Zak striding on the top of Ragged Stone Hill, near Ledbury in Herefordshire

There is much folklore and legend surrounding Ragged Stone Hill. One story tells of a monk who fell in love with a local girl so breaking his vows of chastity. As a punishment, he was made to climb up and down Ragged Stone Hill on his hands and knees asking forgiveness for his sins with every painful step that he took. After months of enduring this torture he cursed both the hills and those who had meted out his punishment. Immediately afterwards, the monk died and a strange dark monk-shaped cloud descended on the hill. Various unexplained deaths to residents of Birtsmorton Hall which lies in the shadow of the hills have been attributed to the curse. Indeed, at certain times of the year strange and sinister clouds smother the hill casting shade that fuels the superstition

Our next challenge was to walk down the hill towards White Leaved Oak. For Julie – the word challenge was an understatement. The path descended so steeply that she moved swiftly from one tree to another holding on to stop herself from falling over. The ground was wet and slippery but she stayed upright and as usual, I kept a watchful eye on her unless of course there was a squirrel to chase. As we walked we passed between lines of ancient yew trees that tangled their branches over our heads.

Down and down, we went until we arrived at the bottom of the slope and then our walk took a turn for the worst because, despite having the ancient map, Julie managed to turn in the wrong direction. We walked along the path for about ten minutes before Julie realised her mistake. The busy A438 seemed to be getting ever closer.

So , we turned tail and came home without visiting Chase End Hill at all.

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