The town of Great Malvern has more than its fair share of outdoor shops, selling camping gear, waterproofs and the like, and well it might: it’s bang in the middle of the Malvern Hills, home of walking and mineral water. You might need them to tackle the high street, however. This is a serious hill. Thankfully, it’s certainly worth it – in central Great Malvern, but also scattered around, there’s a whole heap of charidee to be found. We were here for the Big Chill, but made the most of the time we had.
So, by altitude. At the top of the hill and nearly opposite the old-style department store Brays is Sue Ryder. A common enough charity shop with the distinction of being manned staffed by a full-strength transvestite whose label said ‘Josie’: not for long was the underlying implication. Descending Church Street via back views of the priory is Shaw Trust, St Michael’s Hospice and a nice Oxfam with book section I was led swiftly away from, for the wallet’s sake. That’s central Great Malvern in terms of charity shops, though there’s plenty of nice enough shops and distractions to wile away your time if you’re visiting.
Take a stroll down the hill and past the station (and our B&B) to the local retail enclave of Barnard’s Green, and there’s three more: Acorn Children’s Hospice on the main drag, and another two which, shamefully, I forget the names of. Don’t forget to wander down the track to the side of the butchers, as there’s one tucked away down there – that had a sealed bid auction going for a shopmobility scooter, so would be worth keeping an eye on.
Just when you think you’re done and you’re on your way out, back towards Worcester, you’ll happen across the suburb of Malvern Link. A funny place this, with not a lot going for it except a train station, but do visit St Richard’s Hospice or, even better, Harper’s Bazaar – nothing to do with the glossy rag, it’s an army surplus of the old school, replete with trenchcoats, periscope and helmets.
I’d recommend a trip to Malvern for the scenery, if nothing else. There’s few towns where natural features dominate the topography and views of the town itself like Great Malvern: the juxtaposition of urban and mountainous reminded me of Cape Town. The Hills seem to rear out of the ground from a distance, and loom at you up close. It’s also good for the shops, but it’s nice to be in the shadow of creation every now and then, to make a change from consumerism – even the eco-friendly secondhand kind.
Find: Great Malvern @ Google Maps
Consume with: lunch at the Unicorn, all in very good order.
Visit: the hills, of course. Try listening out for Edward Elgar whistling.
Overall rating: four WW1 helmets