Walk 6 - St Ann’s Well via Green Valley
Great Malvern Town Centre to St Ann’s Well via Green Valley
This is a short walk of just 2.5 miles taking just under the hour for those with limited time to enjoy in part the splendours of Great Malvern and St Ann’s Well. This excursion starts at the Malvern Priory, heads uphill along Church Street, St Ann’s Road, Green Valley, St Ann’s Well and back into Great Malvern by the ’99 steps’ and Rose Bank Gardens.
Start this delightful walk from the entrance to Malvern’s famous Priory, map reference SO 7757 4589. Follow the wide path downhill towards Church Street, as the path bends to the left beneath the large Cedar of Lebanon, set back about 5 metres is Anne Darwin’s small headstone. She died at the tender age of 10 in April 1851. It is believed that Anne’s death was the final turning point in extinguishing any belief Darwin had ‘in a moral and just universe’. After this sobering visit, continue to the Lyttleton Well building, constructed because Lady Apphia Lyttleton was concerned about the ‘moral orders of society around Malvern’. By the 1840’s, a Day School was established bringing much needed educational facilities to the children of Malvern. It is now a friendly Christian café and bookshop.
After visiting the Lyttleton Well cross over the road and turn left up the steep Church Street past the excellent Tourist Information Centre and then Elgar’s favourite, the Blue Bird Tea Rooms. Opposite is the charming Belle Vue Island. Note the information board at the base of the steps depicting the start and finish point of the Worcestershire Way.
In the centre of Belle Vue Island is the attractive public drinking spout called Malvhina created by Rose Garrard in 1998. This wonderful sculpture is based upon Celtic standing stones, the Christian Holy Trinity and the three springs emanating from Happy Valley, Ivy Scar Rock and Rushey Valley. Elgar’s statue and the Enigma Fountain celebrate his musical influence on the town through the fourteen sides of the fountain depicting the fourteen themes of the Enigma Variations. Walk up the steps onto the Worcester Road and across the pedestrian crossing to the striking Belle Vue Terrace and left to the Lloyds TSB Bank. This is the former site of the Crown Hotel where in 1842 Dr John Wilson first established the water cure which placed Malvern irrevocably on the map. The plaque on the wall commemorates this legacy.
Returning along the terrace towards the turning for Church Street, to the left is the Robson Ward kitchen and furniture shop. Walk through the archway and on the right of the courtyard is the ‘Bottling Works Spring’ established in 1850. The Burrow brothers bottled the spring water and supplied such notables as King George V and VI, the Duke of Bedford, Duke of Wellington, Sir Oswald Mosley, Charles Darwin, Stanley Baldwin and the Liberal Prime Minister, Herbert Asquith. The flow of water today is a mere trickle of its former glory. Turning left out of the archway continue to the Unicorn Pub which is reputed to be Malvern’s oldest Public House, map reference SO 7749 4601. Note the blue plaque on the wall describing how one winters evening C S Lewis created the idea for the entrance to ‘Narnia’.
On the opposite side of the road is Barclays Bank, formerly the Royal Library. Turn left and climb the steep St Ann’s Road past the popular Red Lion Pub. Climbing further uphill, St Ann’s Road bears off to the left and our route climbs up Happy Valley Road, look out for the ‘dragons’ outside number 36! A little further on the old wooden sheds covered in ivy are reminiscent of the ones used to house the donkeys during Victorian times to take tourists up to the Beacon. Note the interesting tree house on the left.
A small stream originating from a spring further up the valley gently trickles down the edge of the road. On the left is a turning point for vehicles and tucked away on the edge of the hillside is a small brick construction. On closer inspection, between the two columns holding up this small structure can be seen a slight trickle of spring water. This is known as the Happy Valley Donkey Spring, map reference SO 7712 4593. The question that comes to mind is why would a donkey be led across a stream to drink from this gentle trickle?
Head up the steep metalled lane and follow the left turn signposted St Ann’s Well. After 50 metres or so the pretty grassy plateau and picnic spot known as St Ann’s Delight is reached and provides excellent views over Great Malvern. Returning to the track, St Ann’s Well and café is visible below. It is quite cosy with just three tables indoors, however cast iron tables and chairs are available on the charming terrace. The Well Room is located in what was the original cottage. There is a gentle flow of Malvern’s ‘finest’ from the dolphins head spout into the large ornate bowl. Outside the Well Room is ‘Old Moses Spout’, the name given to the donkey that carried Princess Victoria up to the well in the mid-nineteenth century. The spout flows into a trough for dogs to drink from, and is large enough for a medium sized canine to have a quick bath.
St Ann’s Well and Café took its name from St Ann who patroned wells and springs in the Middle Ages. It is believed this was originally the site of a monk’s hermitage. During the thirteenth century cottages were built here and much later in 1813 a pump room and baths were built which attracted thousands of visitors every year who took to the waters. Visitors and bathers were often serenaded by a German Brass Band. A local character ‘Blind George Pullen’ also played his Dulcitone (harmonium) to visitors. Until his death in 1936 he made the journey from Colwall over the hills each day for a period of 50 years. A commemorative brass plaque can be seen on the wall of the vegetarian café.
The short downhill walk to Great Malvern is very steep and care must be taken when frosty. The Worcestershire Way signposts identify the route. However at the junction of the path and Foley Terrace take a right here, and follow the public footpath sign down towards the private drive marked ‘Halfway’. Tucked in the corner on the left, the footpath descends for some 97 steps rather than the stated 99, to Rose Bank Gardens, map reference SO 7739 4585.
There is a plaque to the memory of Sir Edward Elgar 1857-1934. The information board in the gardens provides details about the house, which was formerly built here. Dyson Perrins of Lee and Perrins Worcestershire Sauce fame owned the grounds to the demolished house and developed the gardens in 1918 into what is seen today. Admire Malvern’s much talked about metal sculpture The Buzzards. Walk down the path to the Mount Pleasant Hotel and the Wells Road. To the left is Belle Vue Terrace. Cross over the busy road and down the incline, then fork to the right, passing landscaped gardens owned by the Abbey Hotel, to the junction with Abbey Road. Unlike the namesake made famous by The Beatles, there is no zebra crossing to be seen. The road leads to the distinctive arched building of the Priory Gatehouse which houses the Malvern Museum of Local History.
Opposite is the attractive Priory Steps and parade of shops. Continue past The Great Malvern Deli to the entrance to the Priory churchyard. This is framed by an ornate wrought iron archway topped by a Victorian gas lamp, concluding this short walk through Malvern’s history.
This is an abridged version of walk 4 from Book Two: Great Malvern, taken from the Pictorial Guide to the Malvern Hills. ISBN 9780956629517, published by Malvern Walks £8.50. Available in local bookshops like the Malvern Book Co-operative (2 St Anne's Road, Malvern) and Tourist Information Centres in Malvern, Upton Upon Severn, Ledbury, Worcester.
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