By Charlotte Chapman, 3H
The Malvern Hills are a series of substantial hills situated in Worcestershire and Herefordshire that are visited by many hundreds of thousands every year. They stretch eight miles from north to south, and they are often described as a great ‘ridge’ in our landscape, containing some of the oldest and hardest rocks in Great Britain. The dominant rocks are granite and diorite, and are believed to be 600 million years old! The Malverns themselves are used mainly for tourism and recreation, for those who are enthusiastic about the great outdoors. It is also used for keeping livestock and this is evident by the short, grazed grass that would otherwise be unkempt and overgrown. These animals are mainly sheep, although sometimes goats are kept too.
To the east of the Malverns are younger rocks that consist of sandstone and clay. They are much softer than the older rocks of the hills, and have been eroded away by the River Severn into a perfectly flat landscape, containing more settlements and agriculture. The different colours of the fields on the Severn Plain showed us that the area must be good for growing very many different types of crops.
Looking west, we could see a landscape historically less suitable for living or working on! As the prevailing winds blow from the west, this area is more exposed. We also learnt how this side of the hills would be more rainy: this is because of something called orographic (or relief) rainfall, which involves air being forced to rise as it approaches hills or mountains, leading to cloud formation and frequent, heavy rainfall. Nevertheless, this area is still used for some farming, though woodland was more frequently observed, including the famous orchards of Herefordshire.
I thoroughly enjoyed this trip to the Malvern Hills for many reasons. The fresh air was invigorating, the hills were beautiful, and it was great fun climbing them, even when the wind was howling! It was wonderful to think how close in fact these stunning and extensive natural features are to the city of Birmingham: I am looking forward to going back to visit them for walks or cycle rides. It is also amazing to think just how varied our great English countryside can be, all within the space of a few miles.