Richard Lutz reviews his past seven days
We’re off to the Malverns. Winter holds its breath. And in the western cup of valleys below the ridge, the ground is hard but cut through by muddy lanes. The hazy outlines of the 1000 foot Malverns sleep in January mist.
There are no snowdrops yet. Not even the early ones that hide under trees and bushes. The earth is quiet, settled under a blanket of cold air. We use twisted paths that sneak up the hills. There is not much visibility. But once in a while, the Black Hills of Wales peak out from the western curtain of fog.
We can’t see anything once we get up to the ridge, which is a pleasant spine of hills that runs north to south. There is grey and more grey. You hear voices before you see others approaching on the trails.
We dip off the ridge onto a Land Rover track embedded in deep mucky ruts that scar a quiet forest road. At a funky junction of paths, Midsummer Hill is shrouded in the grey stuff. We decide to descend leaving the hill’s ancient fort to others, to those voices you only hear in the cold air.
We head for the narrow Eastnor obelisk that commemorates a long forgotten family of heroes who underwent heroic deeds in a forgotten series of long forgotten battles to widen or protect the Empire.
The words are fading in the carved stone but they commemorate the memory of a son who died in the Peninsular Wars. The 90 foot pillar was built by Robert Smirke- don’t smile – he designed the British Museum too.
It has stood its ground for two centuries, the Ozymandias of the Malverns. And then down to the car outside Eastnor Castle. A hawk sits on a fencepost, ignoring us. Bill taps me on the shoulder and points back to the hills. The mist is lifting and the top hills, at 1300 feet, rise up behind us.