Midsummer Hill & Hollybush

Overview
Midsummer Hill is situated in the range of Malvern Hills that runs north-south along the Herefordshire-Worcestershire border. It lies to the north of the hamlet of Hollybush and it is the site of the most complex and unusual Iron Age hill forts in Herefordshire. The area is owned by the National Trust and Eastnor Estate. A circular walk of Midsummer Hill involves moderate gradients but is only about 2.5 miles (1.5hrs). The prehistoric (substantially Iron Age) Hill fort comprising a hill top enclosure with a single circuit of bank and ditch. The habitat comprises mixed deciduous wood: mainly ash, with hawthorn, sycamore, oak, elder and yew, suited to both many resident and migrant bird species.

Exploration of the area can be extended by a further circular walk, partly crossing the border into Worcestershire, around Ragged Stone Hill to the south of Hollybush. The habitat is similar but also includes farmland. The walk is similar in distance but has fewer gradients.

Directions, parking, access times and other facilities
From Ledbury on the A438, passing through Eastnor, the car park belonging to the Eastnor Castle Company is reached on the left just west of Hollybush. There is a bus service serving the area. The car park and walking trails are permanently open.
Map reference: SO 756 369
Sat Nav/Post Code: HR8 1ET

Vehicular access: Car parking is available close to the site providing good access on foot to both circular routes. None beyond the car park.

Access by foot: from the car park a path is taken north leading to the east of Midsummer Hill, past a flooded disused quarry, skirting woodland on to Hollybush Hill, one of twin summits of Midsummer Hill. Turning west Eastnor Castle can be seen and with good visibility there are far reaching views west to the Black Mountains and Brecon Beacons, south to the Forest of Dean, east to the Cotswolds and North to the Clee Hills. From the summit, head south passing by a shelter to pick up a well-walked path down through the fort’s corrugated ramparts. Here you’ll enter woods that fall gently down to the car park.

Maps:
Ordnance Survey Landranger Sheet 150 and Explorer Sheet 190
OS Map View (1:25,000)

What to see:
If you are recording birds in the area please make sure you identify the location as within Herefordshire or Worcestershire. This should not present a problem with respect to the Midsummer Hill walk to the north which is all within the county of Herefordshire, but the walk to the south is virtually bisected north to south by the county border.

In recent years the area is under recorded and the bird list below, mainly representing species currently encountered (compiled from HOC records), is almost certainly incomplete.

Resident Mallard, Pheasant, Buzzard, Stock Dove, Woodpigeon, Little Owl, Tawny Owl, Green Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Peregrine, Magpie, Jay, Jackdaw, Rook, Carrion Crow, Raven, Goldcrest, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Marsh Tit (recorded sporadically), Long-tailed Tit, Nuthatch, Treecreeper, Wren, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush, Robin, Dunnock, Chaffinch, Bullfinch, Linnet, Goldfinch
Winter Fieldfare, Redwing, Stonechat
Summer Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Blackcap, Garden Warbler, Whitethroat, Spotted Flycatcher, Redstart, Tree Pipit
Pied Flycatcher has bred at the site in the past and featured in nestbox schemes and ringing activities through the 1990s. Cuckoo has also been recorded infrequently, although not in recent years.
Resources:
https://www.visitthemalverns.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Malvern-Hills-Hollybush-Walk-Trail.pdf; this provides a map and directions of the trail of the two circular walks in the form of a figure of eight taking in Midsummer Hill to the north and Raggedstone Hill and Whiteleaved Oak to the south.
Nearby sites:
Eastnor Deer Park and Castlemorton Common (The latter is a short drive to the east of Hollybush in Worcestershire but is a good site in winter for Snipe and possible Jack Snipe).