The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Saturday 7 November 2020

Hill-bagging in Herefordshire (& Gloucestershire): Part 1 - Tuesday 3 Nov

You’d be forgiven for thinking this blog long dead, with the last post having been over a year ago. It’s not dead, I’ve just not done anything that qualified for inclusion here* in all of that time. In case you don’t know and are interested, I have been wittering away at length on our other blog at:, including a whole series of posts about the conversion we’ve just undertaken to turn an ex-NHS patient transfer vehicle into a small campervan.

It was in that campervan (who goes by the name of Erica) that we nipped out for a quick hill-bagging trip last week. Not a single UK hill in over 12 months, then suddenly 7 tops in the course of 25 hours. Admittedly, they were neither big nor difficult; however, most of them had great views.

Seager Hill (SO613389; 272m);
Ascent = red; descent = green

Having realised in the nick of time that I’d programmed the SatNav for the wrong hill, we arrived to find the parking situation wasn’t satisfactory. Not wanting to leave Erica even slightly blocking the gateway, Mick was volunteered to stay behind and test out the comfort of Erica’s sofa, whilst I tootled off up the hill.

This is my least favourite type of hill, requiring trespass almost the whole way. Fortunately, it was only a total distance of 1.8 miles and without much ascent, so I took it at a trot. Some of the tracks I used had obviously seen vehicle use very recently, but I made it up and back without encountering anyone, although I did take a slightly different descent route so as to avoid passing a digger that had appeared and was moving some earth adjacent to my outward path. That took me down a track that wasn’t on my map, but I was pretty sure would take me back to my start point. It did, but at the cost of wet feet due to a waterlogged section only about 20m before the end.

Excellent views behind me.

I was back 20 minutes after setting out, ready to move on to the next hill and already looking at the clock and doing calculations as to whether it was going to be feasible to fit in five hills, plus the driving between them, before dark.

Aconbury Hill (SO505329; 276m)

After miles of muddy little lanes that left Erica with a covering of dirt we felt sure was only going to get worse as the trip went on, we arrived at the village hall in Little Birch, where public parking is permitted in return for a donation. There we ate a quick lunch…

first test of Erica’s cooking facilities

…before striding off towards Aconbury Hill.

Muddy path through the woodland

It was a muddy ascent through the woodland, but we managed to stay on our feet (and on the way down too!) to reach the trig point on the top.

Summit selfie

According to my hill lists App, the trig is the highest point of this hill, but I wandered over to a nearby point that looked higher. Often when seeing points that appear higher, when you get there they’re clearly lower. Not on this occasion, it seemed higher both from the trig, and when looking back at the trig, and I now see that there’s a comment on the entry in the database that that the land in question is at least as high. Definitely worth the small detour, even though neither this point, nor the trig afforded any views, being in amongst trees.

Spot the trig some distance behind me

This one was an even shorter outing totalling 1.25 miles with 60m of ascent.

Garway Hill (SO436250; 366m)

Of the five hills on the plan for Tuesday, this was the one that could sensibly be omitted, as I’ll have to pass it again at some point to access the hill that lays just over the border in Wales. On that subject: who could have foreseen, even at the beginning of this year, that there would be a scenario which would allow a visit to a hill on the English side of the England/Wales border, but would not allow us to cross the border to bag one on the other side?

A quick calculation said that there was still enough daylight remaining, and it wasn’t going to add a silly number of miles or minutes onto our day’s driving, so more tiny lanes, getting friendly with hedgerows and breathing in to squeeze past oncoming vehicles ensued before we arrived at a little pull-in to the east of Garway Hill. After walking up the track opposite, the decision not to drive up to the parking area at the top was confirmed as a good one. Erica has a lowered section running along her length (she was a wheelchair accessible vehicle) and the ground clearance would have been a bit tight for her on that heavily rutted track.

Mick wanders on ahead

Summit snap

As for the hill, it was quite lovely! A nice common of cropped grass and with excellent 360 degree views.

This hill was only a marginally bigger outing than the last, coming in at 1.6 miles with 100m of ascent.

Ruardean Hill (SO634169; 290m)

The most pointless hill I’ve done to date and I would have omitted it for that reason if it hadn’t been more-or-less on our way. We parked at a sports ground, walked across the road and then walked back again with another tick on the Marilyn list. About 30m of walking with 0 ascent and no views. Onwards to the next one!

May Hill (SO695212; 296m)

More tiny lanes, some with grass growing down the middle, took us to a surprisingly busy parking area to the west of May Hill. A popular place for dog walking, and understandably so, as it provided us with another short, but lovely, walk up to the top.

There we took the obligatory selfie at the trig point, before I wandered around the adjacent stand of trees to find what appeared to be the highest point. Meanwhile Mick educated himself as to the history behind the trees:

If we’d had a map showing all of the paths on this hill I’m sure we could have made a circuit of our outing, but in the absence of such knowledge we simply retraced our steps for the fifth time of the day, commenting as we went that in different circumstances it would have been nice to have spread these hills over three days and made more of an event out of each one. Ne’er mind, though; given that we’ve been confined to home for all bar three days of the last 9 months, even rushing up and down hills was a joy to do.

There were still two more hills on the list for this trip, but with the light now fading out of the day, they were going to wait until the morrow.

(*Not strictly true. If I’d known in February how the rest of the year was going to pan out I would probably have penned some words about the two hills we visited whilst in Spain. I also have a running post that I wrote almost a year ago, but intended (as I sometimes do with running posts that I want to record for my own future benefit, but that don’t really belong here) to hide retrospectively between more topical posts. As there have been no such topical posts, that post still sits on my hard drive, patiently waiting for publication.)


  1. You've got me in a fright tizzy now. It seems Seager Hill has a south summit near the road which I visited so I am now one short of completing the English Marilyns.. I may have a long day out when that is permitted.

    1. Panic not! I don' think you need to rush back to this one. Looking through the database change log for Seager Hill, I see that in May this year a change was made, based on a new survey, that put the south top as being at equal height to the north top. So, you have, in fact, visited one of the two equally high points.

  2. The rest of them are recorded at:

    1. I remember that trip! Four and a half years ago: how has that much time passed already?