Updated: Apr 20
A few years ago, I visited my parents in my home town of Malvern and knowing that my father would never be able to climb the hills again I took my camera and walked up the highest of the Malvern Hills - the Worcestershire Beacon - for him. Some while later I was searching for an idea for a suitable birthday present for my father, and I decided to make this short film. I am sharing it in this blog because I think that everyone should see what a beautiful place Malvern is. I hope that you enjoy it.
The following is an extract from Chapter 12 of my new book Walking into Alchemy which tells the story of my year of walking - a year in which I completed fifty-two walks in fifty-two weeks in the hills of Southern Austria.
“My desire to walk is beginning to feel instinctive and right; for most of my life I have lived near hills and mountains, and there has always been a dull ache in my stomach, a feeling that I should be outside, out there, up there – walking. Perhaps this seed was sown in North Wales, the place of my birth. For the first six years of my life, it was the Welsh scenery that informed my universe. When I was seven, my parents moved house and once again sought out rolling hills and beauty, and they found Malvern in Worcestershire, an area of outstanding natural beauty right in the middle of England. The Malvern Hills dominate the surrounding countryside. From the highest summit of the hills, you can see the panorama of the Severn Vale, the undulating landscape of Herefordshire and the Welsh mountains and three ancient cathedrals, those of Worcester, Gloucester, and Hereford.
In Malvern, my universe was once again informed by hills and grandeur, and as a family, we occasionally traipsed across one of the many commons, but we never walked far from home. My real introduction to the pleasure and pain of walking came when I was eight, and I stayed for a week with the family of a school friend of mine. His family lived high up in a place called Old Hollow, in West Malvern, in an almost inaccessible house which clung to the hillside like a limpet. I had never been in a split-level house before, and the expansive views from the living room window took my breath away. My friend had five brothers and sisters, and his parents didn’t own a car, so they walked everywhere, which meant that while I was their guest, I too had to walk everywhere. We walked to go and buy food from the tiny shop, we walked two miles into Great Malvern, the town centre, and back. I had never walked four miles in my life. I found it gruelling, but, on my last day with them, we went for a walk apparently just for pleasure, walking over six miles up to the summit of the Worcestershire Beacon and back home. I was reluctant to go – I would much rather have stayed at home and watched the Sunday afternoon film. But even as an eight-year-old I couldn’t help myself from feeling a vital and visceral connection to the ancient rocks under my feet, 680 million years in the making. I enjoyed the walk, and this was a revelation to me.
I remembered that walk for a long time - for about two years, I talked of becoming a mountaineer. But as I entered my teens, my working life, and then later, relationships and other interests took me away from the hills and walking.”
(Walking into Alchemy by Amelia Marriette, will be published by Mereo Books in December)