May Hill views
Straddling the boundary between Herefordshire and Gloucestershire, May Hill is one of the area's best known landmarks.
Enjoy spectacular views over the Severn Plain and towards Wales
With its distinctive cap of pine trees, the hill is visible for miles in all directions, and the views that can be seen from the hill are breathtaking. This is an exhilarating walk that will clear the lungs.Type of walk: 'Beautiful Views'; Grade of walk: Trainer (all rounder).
Car park, grid ref: SO691223
From the parking area, enjoy the views across the rolling Herefordshire countryside. From Ross-on-Wye and Wales to your left, the Shropshire Hills in the far distance and on to the Malvern Hills on your right. Pass the gate onto the common and take the track to the left.
Far and wide
From May Hill, which reaches nearly 1000ft (305m) in height, you can see up to 12 counties. The distinctive central copse of pine trees was originally planted to commemorate Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee and then supplemented with more trees on Queen Elizabeth's Silver Jubilee. Although we own the hill, the area with the pines is in fact owned by the local parish for the recreation of the people.
The Malvern Hills can be seen in the distance, marking the county boundary between Herefordshire and Worcestershire, with the Midlands beyond. Continue up the track.
A rich nature
The rough grazing land on the summit of the hill has both heath and mire (boggy ground) and is one of the largest and finest areas of acid grassland in Gloucestershire. This is quite rare in the county and, as such, is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest which gives protection to the environment. This land supports a wide range of interesting flora and fauna, including invertebrates, reptiles and amphibians. A wide range of birds can also be seen - look out for ravens in particular.
The wall runs along the boundary between Herefordshire and Gloucestershire. Go through the kissing gate and continue on towards the clump of pine trees. The land here is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest because of its acidic grasslands and heathland habitats. The bluebells are spectacular in spring.
The Composers Hill
May Hill provides good views of the nearby Malverns Hills, and both are said to have inspired the great composer, Edward Elgar. Another British composer, Gerald Finzi, enjoyed the views of May Hill from his home in Painswick, near Stroud, and upon his death in 1973, his wife scattered his ashes there.
From here, the River Severn can be seen snaking to the south, flanked by the Cotswold Hills on the east and the Forest of Dean on the west. Continue along to the seat on the western side of the trees.
On a clear day the Welsh hills are clearly visible beyond the forest of Dean: the Brecon Beacons in the south, the distinctive Sugar Loaf mountain and Skirrid, on to Hay Bluff, the northern most point of the Black Mountains. Leave the clump of trees and head north along the grassy track back to the left-hand side of the county boundary wall.
Go through the kissing gate. Carry on straight ahead down the steep slope and you'll see the parking area ahead of you. It's often quoted that anywhere between 8 and 12 counties can be seen from May Hill. How many did you see?
Ways you can help
We hope that you really enjoyed this one-mile walk. We look after some of the most spectacular areas of countryside for the enjoyment of all. We need your support to help us continue our work to cherish the countryside and provide access to our beautiful and refreshing landscapes. To find out more about how you too can help our work as a volunteer, member or donor please visit our homepage.
Car park, grid ref: SO691223
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