Herefordshire and the Wye Valley in Central England
Herefordshire is a quilt of fields, livestock, farm buildings, and woodlands
By Mary Charlebois
A library where books are chained to the shelves is guarded in Hereford Cathedral. Down a corridor of Norman Columns, the Mappa Mundi mesmerizes onlookers. A 1217 copy of the Magna Carta is displayed on special occasions.
Hereford is more than a cathedral, ancient documents, and a breed of beef-cattle enjoyed the world over.
It’s a city in the county of Herefordshire England, 16-miles from the Welsh border. It’s been a place of settlement along the River Wye since the Bronze Age.
English and Welsh
Part English, part Welsh, town and village names reflect the ever-changing boundary between England and Wales. The same is true of food, art, music, folklore, and language.
Herefordshire is a quilt of fields, livestock, farm buildings, and woodlands. Narrow country lanes are bordered by hedgerows and stone walls.
Beyond the centuries-old barriers are farms and fields. Fields are golden with grain, or green with potato leaves, asparagus, and corn.
Apple, plum, and pear orchards flourish. An occasional farm stand offers fruit, vegetables, honey, or eggs you pay for in an honor box. Cattle graze, sheep forage, horses wander.
You pass micro-villages, stone cottages, pubs, and shops. Patches of woodlands cover hillsides. Occasionally the River Wye rolls under a one-lane, arched-stone bridge.
Like most of England, history runs deep and is proudly sustained. This beautiful area will introduce you to England’s heart, its people and their land.
Check List—Not to Miss in Hereford
Home to Mappa Mundi, Chained Library, Cathedral Tours, and Even Song. The splendid Hereford Cathedral has been a site for worship since the 8th-century. The architecture covers several eras, including Norman. A 13th-century calfskin map of the world has been safeguarded for 100s of years. Mappa Mundi has toured the world.
One of four copies of the 1217 Magna Carta is housed and displayed here when not on tour. In the 17th-century, books were so valuable, they were chained to shelves in the monastery that stood on the cathedral grounds. website
Learn the long, long history of cider making in Hereford in this museum, housed in an ancient cider mill. Hundreds of brands of cider are available for sale. Your tour includes a tasting. website
Weston’s Cider Mill
Weston’s is a mega producer of ciders. You’ll see everything in a modern plant from orchards to bottling. A tasting is included with the tour. Discounts are offered in the cider shop and tasting room. website
Incredible medieval castle with full battlements still standing. Plan a picnic with goodies from the café. It’s exceptional. The gift shop is very tempting. Be sure to check out the costumes. website
Kilpeck Church—Church of St Mary and St David—is a Romanesque church and has been a place of worship for over 900-years. It’s extraordinary and very rare. The place of worship has symbols and icons from Pagan and Christian beliefs.
Ten minutes from Kilpeck is the Temple Bar Inn, a friendly lunch stop. This country pub was voted 2018-19’s friendliest B&B. The food is remarkable, and the libations are great. Three rooms are available for guests. You won’t be a stranger here. website
Two walking tours of Hereford have been mapped out. The Historic City Walk takes you to the old town area, passing through the Butter Market, black and white timber houses, and around the cathedral.
The Riverside Walk takes you along the River Wye crossing over and under bridges. The Roman Bridge and Victoria Bridges are exceptional photo ops. Maps are available from the Castle House Hotel Concierge.
The river Wye is canoe and kayak friendly. The scenery is a combination of woodlands and riverside homes and businesses. Tie-up at a pub and take a cider break.
Castle House Hotel
All that remains of the 12th century, Hereford Castle, is the moat that borders the terraced garden. The bucolic setting is flawless for long, lazy lunches, afternoon tea, or sunset bubbly and dinner.
The freshest local ingredients served in the area come from 10-miles away. Castle House kitchen is supplied by its own farm, Ballingham Hall. Ballingham Beef, raised only at Ballingham Hall, and organic fruit and veg fill the seasonal menu.
A stay at Castle House is brilliant. If the rooms are booked, stop in for a G&T on the terrace and soak up the ambiance. website
Getting To Hereford
3-hour drive from Heathrow Airport, London
1.75-hour drive from Birmingham International Airport, Birmingham
4.5 hours by train from Heathrow
2.75 hours by train from Birmingham
More Info for Visiting Hereford
Hereford Visitors Bureau
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Mary Charlebois is a freelance journalist and photographer. Her home base is on California’s Mendocino Coast. She travels by train, plane, bus, boat, shoe sole, and auto. She digs into the culture, people, and history wherever she goes and isn’t opposed to a little adventure along the way.