Standing at the southern end of the Malvern Hills and looking east, only a few woods and copses of the old Malvern Forest remain visible. Once the hunting ground for kings, the Forest was given to Gilbert de Clare, 7th Earl of Gloucester as his own private “chase” when he married Edward I’s daughter, Joan of Acre, as a way of further securing his loyalty. Such was the game of thrones in 13th century England.
We will return to the “Red Earl” on a later walk. For now we can simply survey his former chase from the aptly named Chase End hill (although this may be a folk etymology for the peak).
On the east slope of Chase End, the path enters the Bromesberrow Estate. I have so many early memories of these woods and commons: my uncle’s boomerang lost in the ferns; sitting on my father’s back at what cannot be more than two years’ old; learning right from left at a junction on the path. The mud was deep and glorious yesterday, perfect for wellies but not for the eternal washing pile at home.