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THE FOOD & DRINK OF HEREFORDSHIRE, SHROPSHIRE & GLOUCESTERSHIRE

10 stunning secrets of Herefordshire

10 stunning secrets of Herefordshire

IF YOU haven’t visited Herefordshire yet, or don’t know much about it, then perhaps the locals are keeping the secrets of one of the most glorious counties in Britain to themselves.

You can’t blame them if they are. Over the years, Herefordshire’s outstanding natural beauty has bewitched writers such as CS Lewis who fell in love with its Golden Valley and spent many happy days walking or enjoying the scenery during long, meandering drives.

The county is hilly, green, colourful and so diverse because of the many animals, fruit farms, orchard, rivers and historic country houses to visit on a day out exploring. Here are 10 things about Herefordshire you won’t want to miss anytime of the year:

1. The Golden Valley

The Golden Valley in Wick is near the historic 'book town' of Hay-on-Wye where the Hay Festival takes place every year
The Golden Valley in Wick is near the historic ‘book town’ of Hay-on-Wye where the annual Hay Festival takes place (Picture by Garden Cottage Prints)

Through all seasons of the year the Golden Valley shimmers in the summer sun, glistens with autumn colours and looks like a winter wonderland when blanketed with snow. (Picture above by Garden Cottage Prints)

The River Wye in Herefordshire meanders for 134 miles from source to sea
The River Wye in Herefordshire meanders for 134 miles from source to sea

2. Historical sights

The Golden Valley in Wick, near Hay-on-Wye, is also home to the River Dore and historical sights such as Dore Abbey – a former medieval monastery. Arthur’s Stone is located just outside the historic village of Dorstone and is Herefordshire’s oldest man-made structure dating back to between 3700BC-2700BC.

 Hereford Cathedral towers before you in distance as you row into the city from further up the Wye Valley. It dates back to 1079 and houses the Mappa Mundi, a 13th century map of the world
Hereford Cathedral dates back to 1079 and houses the Mappa Mundi, a 13th century map of the world

3. & 4. The River Wye & Hereford Cathedral

Canoeists shouldn’t miss out on a gentle row down the River Wye in summer and when you finish your boat trip just outside the city of Hereford you’ll see the red stone of its 11th century cathedral towering before you in the distance. Inside here is the Mappa Mundi – a medieval map of the world dating back to the 13th century.

Herefordshire hills are plentiful for keen walkers and particular spots of beauty include Hay Bluff and Offas Dyke
Hill walkers will love spots of beauty including Hay Bluff & Offas Dyke 

5. Hills & walks

Walks and hikes in the hills of Herefordshire give you many magical views from hills and trails such as Hay Bluff or Offas Dyke, which was voted as one of the best national walking trails by Lonely Planet.

Herefordshire edges the border of Wales and for a great day out during your stay in Herefordshire, pop over to climb Pen y Fan in the hauntingly beautiful Brecon Beacon Hills. It’s quite easy to spend six or seven hours exploring these hills, valleys and lakes and still feel you haven’t seen enough.

6. Delicious, locally produced food at The Stagg in Titley

And you’re never far from fantastic pub lunches in Herefordshire. The Stagg Inn & Restaurant at Titley was awarded a Michelin Star in 2001 and serves local food from the county with its own twist on traditional British fayre.

The Stagg Inn was awarded a Michelin Star in 2001 and has retained it every year since then. It's well worth a visit but book ahead as it's always busy.
The Stagg Inn was awarded a Michelin Star in 2001 and has retained it every year since then. It’s well worth a visit but book ahead as it’s always busy.

The cheese board is one of the most extensive you’ll be offered in Britain – probably because the county is brimming with fantastic cheeses, while The Stagg Inn produces delicious chutneys and jams from its own kitchen gardens.

7. The Hay Festival 

If you’re in Herefordshire for the annual Hay Festival of Literature & Arts, you’ll be passing through Hay-on-Wye – an historic town that attracts thousands of book lovers every year to catch up with their favourite authors being interviewed, political debates, historical discussions, children’s book clubs or cookery classes.

Political journalist Andrew Marr
Political journalist Andrew Marr at the Hay Festival of Literature & Arts

Over the years it has attracted famous faces such as the BBC’s Andrew Marr, Boris Johnson, Nigella Lawson, Salman Rushdie, comedians such as Stephen Fry and TV presenters such as Mariella Frostrup and Chris Evans.

8. English wine

Herefordshire beef, cider, wine and cheeses come from the many farms, orchards and vineyards in the county. You’re never far from locally-produced food, cider, fruit wines and English wine produced at vineyards such as Broadfield Court Estate in Bodenham, Coddington Vineyard or Three Choirs Vineyard & Hotel, just a couple of miles over the Herefordshire border in Gloucestershire.

Broadfield Court Estate is situated in Bodenham in a 1,000-acre estate
Broadfield Court Estate is situated in Bodenham in a 1,000-acre estate

And that’s why the three-hour journey by car from London through Oxfordshire and into the heart of England is worth every minute.

9. Symonds Yat 

Wye Valley Tipi Camping offers a selection of outdoor activities, such as canoeing in Herefordshire
Wye Valley Tipi Camping offers a selection of outdoor activities, such as canoeing in Herefordshire

While you’re in the Wye Valley area, make sure you take a short detour to Symonds Yat or Ross-on-Wye – two stunningly beautiful parts of the county.

http://www.hayfestival.com/portal/index.aspx?skinid=1&localesetting=en-GB
Symonds Yat straddles the River Wye over two counties of England – Herefordshire and Gloucestershire.

The Yat George was once mined for iron ore but today it is most popular for the Symonds Yat Rapids where you can start or end your canoeing adventures on the River Wye.

Here at Symonds Yat you can hire canoes, bring your camping gear and stay over and even hire a giant Indian teepee if you’re here to camp with Wye Valley Tipi Camping.

Take a quaint little boat ride across the river and walk on the other side of Symonds Yat or simply enjoy a fantastic pub meal at The Saracens Head Inn at Symonds Yat East.

10. Castles and country homes

The numerous medieval country estates, the castles and stately homes in Herefordshire – and many where you can stay – makes me wonder why this stunning county is not more widely promoted as a must-see visit for tourists to Britain.

Eastnor Castle
Eastnor Castle in the Malvern Hills – Norman Revival in style and built from sandstone from Forest of Dean

Hampton Court Castle (built 1427) has some of the most stunning gardens with a maze to enjoy and situated between Hereford and Leominster. Eastnor Castle is located in a stunning setting in Ledbury within the Malvern Hills.

Brinsop Court Estate has been lovingly restored and beautifully furnished and is let for weekend stays for holidaymakers
Brinsop Court Estate has been lovingly restored and beautifully furnished and is let for weekend stays for holidaymakers

Brinsop Court Estate is a medieval manor house that has been lovingly restored into four beautiful family holiday homes. Brinsop is surrounded by a moat and set in 800 acres of ancient woods and farmland. The estate can be rented as a whole, sleeping 28 people, or three luxury holiday homes and a cottage for two can be rented separately. A medieval banqueting hall and Elizabethan library add an extra feature if you’re looking for an exquisite venue for a function, or even the stunning courtyard is perfect for barbecues in the summer.

Brinsop Court Estate is set within 800 acres of ancient woodland and farmland
Brinsop Court Estate is set within 800 acres of ancient woodland and farmland

Brinsop is about a 15-minute drive from Hereford city and is located in a secluded setting surrounded by its own valley and lakes. For a special family break away in Herefordshire, Brinsop could be the perfect choice for luxury self-catering accommodation with breakfast hampers included.

Brinsop Court Estate is a 14th century moated manor house set in 800 acres of woodlands and farmland
Brinsop Court Estate is a 14th century moated manor house set in 800 acres of woodlands and farmland

Walks nearby Brinsop include Offas Dyke, the Black Mountains, Wye Valley and “The Cat’s Back”, which is Abergavenny to Hay-on-Wye. The surrounding 800 acres are beautiful for walks and treasure hunts for the children, as well as a small farm complete with pigs and Shetland ponies.

Bedroom in Tirrell House - interiors are styled contemporary but set against a backdrop of a stunning medieval building
Bedroom in Tirrell House at Brinsop – room interiors are styled contemporary but set against a backdrop of a stunning medieval building

Interiors are modern with contemporary luxury furnishings tastefully chosen to complement Brinsop’s exposed stone walls and arched windows through which guests can gaze out over the moat, ponds and estate.

The quirky nature of some of the rooms and cottages allow children and adults to relax and enjoy their spacious holiday homes.

The medieval courtyard, a “Harry Potter” bedroom for the children, the Elizabethan library, a banqueting hall for 60 and a well-equipped games room all contribute some fun, drama and quirkiness to this luxury medieval retreat. Not to mention Brinsop’s picturesque setting.

It’s not long opened after extensive renovation but I’m sure it will keep many families happy on holiday for years to come.

If you would like to find out more about this glorious county, get in touch with Visit Herefordshire or visit their website here.

For more information about food and drink click here.

For more about things to do please click here.

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2 Comments

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