Canopy & Stars Logo

A long weekend in: Herefordshire

Herefordshire’s motto is ‘This fair land is the gift of God’ – and it’s hard to disagree. Bordering on the Brecon Beacons and the Shropshire AONB, containing half of the Wye Valley AONB and the Malvern Hills AONB – Herefordshire is perfectly positioned at the heart of a huge stretch of countryside. It has sprawling forests to adventure in, soaring hills to climb, meandering rivers to manoeuvre, and more than your fair share of market towns to explore. Follow along with us as we take on Herefordshire, going in a spiral from Hereford to Ross-on-Wye, to Bromyard, to Leominster to Hay-on-Wye. You could take these places on in any order, but this imagines you starting in the ‘capital’ of Herefordshire first.

Coffee, culture and snacks

Where: Hereford 

How long: A half day 

Best for: The caffeine deficient and retail therapy fans 

All roads lead to Hereford in Herefordshire, and whether you arrive by car or by train, it's an unavoidable stop, either on the way in or the way out. So, whilst you're there, you may as well explore, see what the city represents about the county, and meet some of the wonderful people that populate this part of the world. You'll find plenty of places to eat here, as well as some incredible shops, but if you're pressed for time, maybe take it easy instead of hurrying round, and get a sample of the local flavour by hitting up one of their coffee shops. If you've brought the dog (and even if not), head to Die Koffie Pot for coffee or a snack, or try out Sensory & Rye or King Street Kitchen for the same. If you're in the mood for something a little different, then head over to Sabores De Portugal - and grab anything from Bifanas to Natas.

Paddleboarding, riverside dining and woodland walks

Where: Ross-on-Wye 

How long: ½ a day to a day

Best for: Wild wanderers and adventurers  

If you're following in order, it's half an hour to Symond's Yat from Hereford, and you're spoilt for choice when it comes to things to do there. You'll find woods and nature reserves galore - even a butterfly zoo! And if you've been following along for some places you won't find in the guidebooks - Symond's Yat is round the corner from Kerne Bridge. You won't want to miss however, the views (or cake) at Yat Rock, grabbing a pint and a bite to eat at Ye Old Ferrie Inn by the riverside (dog friendly) or even going canoeing, kayaking or paddleboarding on the river!  

If you've the time, pop on over to King Arthur's cave. But when you head out after a day of adventure, and if you're heading for Bromyard, stop by at Instone Court on the way. Concerned you might not make there on time to pick up some fresh produce? Well, no worries. At Instone Court, they have a farm produce vending machine - open 24hrs a day, so no need to hurry.

Artisan crafts, sci-fi-relics and themed gardens

Where: In, and around Bromyard 

How long: ½ a day to a day

Best for: Artisans, craftspeople, nature and sci-fi nerds, whether you're adults or kids 

A pretty little town filled with Tudor houses spared by the bombing in WW2, Bromyard is lovely for an afternoon stroll or a cup of tea - but the best parts are the activities you'll find in and around the area. Pop into Brook House Woods to meet the Woodland Makers, artisans crafting household goods from the green wood onsite, and try your hand on the lathe. If you're taking that stroll around the centre, head to The Time Machine - sci-fi museum with relics and on-screen props from the likes of Doctor Who, Red Dwarf, Star Wars, Star Trek, Thunderbirds, Stingray, Captain Scarlet and more. Finish off with a tour of Ralph Court Gardens, and explore all 12 of their unique themed gardens - we'll bet you've been to nothing like it.

Cider, arboretums and vending machine steak

Where: Mostly to the south of Leominster  

How long: Hard to say when cider's involved 

Best for: Young ones with energy to burn off, and adults in need of a reward 

You've just made the quick 20-minute journey to Leominster from Bromyard, and depending on your priorities you might do them in a different order. But if your young ones are in need of running off some energy, or you're an adult in desperate need of some wild (aren't we all?) head to Queenswood Country Park & Arboretum. Tour the woods, wander between the trees and let the wildlife scuttle and whistle past, and breathe deep sighs - it doesn't get much better than this. Oh, no wait it does! Take a peek at The Forest Garden, where they showcase sustainable food production in their orchard. 

If you don't grab something at the café and visitor's centre, head to Newton Court, just two miles up the road. On the 157-acre organic farm, you can take cider tours, stock up on apple-centric supplies, or eat at the restaurant and café. Whoever's not the designated driver can try 7.4% Farmhouse scrumpy and the wee ones can hit the fresh Herefordshire apple juice.  

On your way now to Hay-on-Wye, the town that straddles the Anglo-Welsh border, you could take the detour out to Hindwell Farm, where yet another farm vending machine serves steak that will make you say: 'gosh, that's undoubtedly the best steak I've had from a vending machine'.

Fine foods, retail therapy and gold standard hospitality

Where: The town centre 

How long: One hour, to a full day

Best for: Anyone 

If you've been before, you'll know that there's no amount of time, long or short, that's right to visit Hay-on-Wye. If you're popping in to just grab supplies at Hay Deli, or C.J. Gibbons, that's an experience right there, but if you've longer, you've got more options than we have time to list. You could grab lunch or a drink at The Cosy Café, or an afternoon treat at Shepherd's Parlour - whose ice cream is fantastic (and has vegan options), or visit Chapters, where sustainability's the theme of the food, or any of the others we've suggested.

When you're well fed enough to turn a walk to a waddle, you're ready to explore the shops. If you've forgotten something you'll need for adventuring, hit up F.W. Golesworthy & Sons, old-school camping shop filled to the brim with everything you could want or need to camp or explore the wild. If you're looking more to the fashionable end of the spectrum of outdoorsyness you could go to Flow. Presents? Treats for yourself? Reading Material? Try Bartrums & Co for the most decadent stationary you've ever seen or Richard Booth's Bookshop for the most beautiful bookshop you've likely been to. If you really want more suggestions, try our guide - but part of the joy here is traipsing the winding streets, and discovering them for yourself.