Encompassing half the Malvern Hills and the Wye Valley AONB and bordering on both the Bannau Brycheiniog (Brecon Beacons) National Park and the Shropshire Hills AONB, Herefordshire is the perfect spot to soak up some wild. Despite its relatively small size, and low population, it manages to both be full of things to do, whether that’s canoeing, kayaking, SUP, hiking or more – but also rammed full of culture. Despite its popularity, and its well-known attractions, it still manages to have its hidden corners and secret spots, so without further ado, here’s our favourites:
Just 12 miles north of Kerne Bridge, still on the River Wye’s lengthy meander through Herefordshire, you’ll find The Sellack Suspension bridge. It can either be accessed from a footpath by St Tysilio’s Church in the south or From Kings Caple in the North. On the south side, you should be able to wander down a path to the east and get access to the sandbanks. It’s a beautiful spot to hunker down for an afternoon and picnic by the river, watching the willow trees on the banks sway. It’s also another ideal launch point for canoes, kayaks and SUP. If you get time, head north to The Cottage of Content, and grab an afternoon pint, or settle in for some dinner.
The National Trust, a national treasure, continues to maintain properties all across the UK that showcase the very best of nature in its most curated form. You can see it all at these gardens by the River Wye, before it flows through Herefordshire. From carefully sculpted bushes to riverside strolls past swaying willows, gently idling sheep in fields and even wildflower meadows blazing technicolour in the sunlight – The Weir Garden is ripe to pluck an afternoon breathing deep sighs, and letting silly stresses fall to your lowest of priorities. Somehow, though you’ll do nothing but amble about peacefully, you’ll remember this afternoon forever.
Hidden on the outskirts of Hereford, Broadlands Nature Reserve is a small patch of woodland that’s back-to-back with two smaller points of interest – Lugg meadow, one of the most important surviving Lammas meadows in the UK (worth a google), as well as Tupsley Park. Spend a few hours taking a forest bath, strolling the meadows, and heading down to the River Lugg’s banks for a dip or just to watch as life floats by. This close to Hereford centre, it’s a great one to fit in around some food reservations, and if you want to extend the exploration, head a few minutes north to Victoria or Aylestone Park.
Right in the middle of the Wye Valley AONB, a few hundred metres from Goodrich Castle, you’ll find Kerne Bridge placed over the River Wye. Down by the river, you’ll find sandy-shingle banks, and further down the river on the other side, these banks make up the Kerne Bridge canoe launch point for The Wye Pursuits Adventure company. Take a little wild swim, enjoy the beautiful red brick bridge backdrop, head out on the canoes or simply enjoy a little picnic on the riverbank. If you’re there at the right time of day, and time of year, you might see The Paddle Café Firetruck next to the canoe launch – and you’ll be able to grab some thick cut bacon sandwiches or a drink and enjoy the surrounds with a snack.
41 minutes away from Broadlands Nature Reserve, in the unrivalled beauty of The Forest of Dean – there’s King Arthur’s Cave. With visitors often too busy walking trails or taking part in the many activities on offer in The Forest of Dean, the cave is often overlooked. It has, however, been exactly this popular for quite a while – roughly 50,000 years, which is why the remains of prehistoric creatures like woolly mammoths, elephants, reindeer, wolves and even humans (with their flint tools) have been found. Supposedly the caves penetrate deep into the hills – potentially enough to hide an army, but for everyone’s safety, and to keep your clothes guano-free, we recommend perhaps just the entranceway.