The Malvern Hills

The Malvern Hills/ HWTThe Malvern Hills/ HWT

About the Malvern Hills

The nine-mile long range of the Malvern Hills which rises sharply from the Severn Valley floodplain to a height of about 400 metres dominates the surrounding area, with the iconic Iron Age Hill fort of Herefordshire Beacon at the southern end. The Malvern Hills are mainly composed of granitic rocks which are amongst the oldest in Britain. The hill tops are covered by acid grassland and small areas of heathland, merging into bracken, scrub and woodland on the lower slopes.
To the west and north of the Malverns lies a series of roughly parallel wooded ridges of Silurian limestone. The ridges and valleys form a complex mosaic of small woodlands, hedgerows, copses and orchards. The area was once part of the hunting Chase of the Bishops of Hereford, so there is excellent continuity between the historic landscape and the present day, which is particularly evident in the high density of veteran trees in hedgerows and parklands.
The varied geology is reflected in the soils which range from thin acidic soils on the Malverns, through deeper, neutral soils over the Old Red Sandstone to calcareous soils on the limestone ridges.
This landscape has a high level of connectivity making it particularly suitable for species such as Lesser Horseshoe Bat, Polecat and Dormouse. The orchards are nationally important for invertebrates inhabiting deadwood, such as the Noble chafer beetle, and also have mistletoe tortrix moth. The veteran trees in the woodlands are home to Barbastelle bats and there are adders on the hill land. The whole area sits within the Malvern Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.


Creating a Living Landscape

This landscape is already highly connected, but under pressure from agricultural intensification and development. Veteran trees have been mapped by an AONB project and many are reaching the end of their expected lifespan, with few replacements being established. A Living Landscape project would encompass protection and appropriate management of the orchards, woodlands and hedgerows to include improving connectivity between them and establishing new generations of hedgerow trees to produce future veterans.

The Malvern Hill Reserves

Herefordshire Wildlife Trust no longer has any reserves in this area. The Malvern Hills are open access land owned by the Malvern Hills Conservators, National Trust, Severn Trent Water and Eastnor Estate, all under the jurisdiction of the Conservators.