Yesterday I text Ian and suggested a ride at the Wyre forest, he replied ok but if we go early we could ride The Malvern Hills before they get busy. I was a little shocked when he said “early” meant 6am on a Sunday! but in for a pound in for a penny and i said ok.
The bed rock of the Malvern Hills was formed 600 million years ago (late pre-Cambrian, igneous/metamorphic) making it some of the oldest and hardest rock in Britain. There are no fossils in it. About 400 million years ago it was thrust up through the floor of the Silurian Sea and it is still a significant landmark for miles around and a must do for all local MTBers
We parked up at De Wyche cutting just before &am this morning and unloaded the bikes into some slight drizzle, typical after 3 weeks of bone dry weather it was actually raining a bit but it wasn’t cold so we manned up, climbed the steps and began the big pull up to the ridge line of The Malverns. Now this area is very sensitive and the local walkers are very vocal in their dislike for mountain bikes that stray away from bridleways and onto the cheekier parts, but of course the cheekier parts are sometimes the best. So far we’re not blessed with an access all areas mandate that of Scottish (& maybe soon to be Welsh) cousins enjoy so we have to be a bit sneaky, hence the early start to avoid walkers and the very prevalent Conservators and Wardens who roam the hills policing the rules.
Once on the spine of the hills it’s very up and down, proper big ring bouncing off the rocky outcrops going down and granny ring, desperately trying to keep the front wheel on the ground, stem biting agony going up, The grassy sections were damp from the (thankfully now stopped) earlier rain and the bikes and ourselves were quickly filthy. It was really adrenalin boosting on the downs, on unfamiliar ground at speed with quite a few drops that were just hit and home they didn’t turn out to be too steep. Thankfully stopping for a breather allowed us to glimpse the immense views of the severn valley on one side and Wales on the other
From Worcestershire beacon to British camp is only about 7 miles and we made sure we covered all the steepest bits then headed for the local resevoir, sadly the fencing was covered in tributes as last week 2 teenagers drowned in its freezing depths. we had lost a lot of height and had to gain most of it again on the singletrack climb up to Midsummer hill
this was a bit of a struggle and the clouds of black flies certainly didn’t help apart from motivating us to keep going to try and out run them. once on the ridge again we explored the local landmark cave
(surprisingly good acoustics) before puhing on and arriving back at the British camp car park. this car park has a cafe but one of the draw backs of starting early is that not many places open on a Sunday before 10am, knowing there was another cafe further on up the road (OK more cheeky singletrack) be pedalled on to have a hopes dashed by another “no cake til 10” sign. resigned to just riding back to the van and an anticlimax I just happened to spot a cafe sign as we sped past, I went to check and was pleased to see it was open. In fact it only opened for the first time in June. Quite posh but very bike friendly & there was a great selection of cakes including gluten free, which i had, not because of any wheat allergy just because it was lemon flavoured, my first polenta cake and it was fab! Ian had what seemed to be the worlds largest slice of coffee and walnut but it didn’t seem to last long! Chatting to the owner i found out they were planning a bike wash and permanent bike repair stand outside, so I can thoroughly recommend and cyclist pop in to top up their reserves it’s also open everyday except wednesdays.
So, Malvern was bagged without hassle from anyone and cake was consumed, if you are in the area, you must do both.