Think of Herefordshire and you might lick your lips at the thought of a steak. Juices oozing. Or maybe a glass of cider? I’ve just come back and I tasted both. Driving down quiet country lanes, I saw apple orchards, hopyards, vineyards, fruit growers’ polytunnels and the region’s famous cattle grazing in the fields.
It isn’t hard to find tasting places and stories to share with you. There are rich country traditions woven into the landscape. But there are also tales of farmers with a pioneering spirit, smart boutique hotels and stylish independent shops.
What makes it even more attractive for food lovers is the region’s relative proximity to Ludlow and Abergavenny. Both towns are renowned for their September food festivals so you’ve every excuse to visit on your way.
This itinerary would be perfect for a long weekend break. You’ll find booking links below and tempting suggestions for gifts and products inspired by my tasting tour.
Book A Foodie Weekend Break in Herefordshire
Go Wine Tasting at Three Choirs Vineyard in Newent
I’m cheating here as this is just over the border in Gloucestershire but it’s one of the longest established vineyards in England. It also has the region’s main winery. The vineyard tour isn’t as detailed as the Chapel Down vineyard tour in Kent or at Ridgeview Wine Estate in Sussex, but it will give you a general introduction to English wine production. If you’ve been following my travels on Facebook, you’ll already know that I’m a big fan of English sparkling wine. Its popularity is rising rapidly so do take the opportunity to taste it here. For a special twist, buy a bottle of British Cassis which is produced in Herefordshire and treat yourself to a kir royale.
Read more about the Three Choirs Vineyard.
Rows of vines at Three Choirs Vineyard where you can tour the vineyard and do a wine tasting
2. Visit the Historic Market Town of Ledbury
Ledbury is like something out of a period costume drama. It is characterised by black and white timbered Tudor buildings, cobbled streets and a 17th century Market House. Virtually every building on the High Street is listed. The main house along Butcher’s Row is where you’ll find the town’s museum. For a complete contrast, don’t miss Tinsmiths, a glass building that’s tucked up a Dickensian alleyway. It’s been described as ‘The Miracle of Ledbury’ and it’s home to a wonderful interiors business. I spotted table runners with ‘Bon Appétit’ embroidered along the border, great posters from Ledbury Poetry Festival and baskets of colourful buttons.
Timbered buildings in the historic town of Ledbury
Ledbury has several cafés and pubs but if you want something smarter have lunch at the Verzon in Trumpet. Owned by Chase Distillery, the hotel’s restaurant offers a 2 course lunch for £23. If you ring ahead, they’ll also prepare Afternoon Tea for you. Take it outside on their decked garden terrace and enjoy the countryside views.
The restaurant at Verzon House
The hotel has a decked terrace outside
Ledbury has some good quality specialist shops. Three Counties Cider Shop offers tastings of cider, perry and apple juice. They source from producers in Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Gloucestershire including Once Upon A Tree, Olivers Cider and Dunkertons. The Velvet Bean sells handmade chocolates and there’s an excellent cook shop and a delicatessen. I loved Hus & Hem – a store selling all things Scandinavian for the home. I was especially tempted by the Scandinasvik candle range, inspired by the forest and the sea. They also sell colourful dish cloths and tea towels which would brighten up your kitchen on a cold dark January morning.
The Velvet Bean Chocolate Shop
The Three Counties Cider Shop
Taste Award-Winning Vodka and Gin on the Chase Distillery Tour
The story behind Chase is really inspiring. While visiting his Hereford farm and distillery, you’ll hear about the bold entrepreneurial journey of Will Chase from potato farmer to distiller and taste the brand’s excellent range of vodka and gin. Tours are popular so you do need to plan ahead and book this one in advance. If you are staying at the Verzon, they can arrange a tour and transport for you when you book your accommodation.
Read more about the Chase Distillery Tour
Visit the Chase Distillery near Hereford
Tour the distillery building
2. Visit the Cathedral City of Hereford
You can’t visit the region without taking a peek inside Hereford Cathedral. In rotation with both Gloucester and Worcester cathedrals, it hosts the annual Three Choirs Festival in July. A 10 minute walk from the cathedral, there’s an opportunity to delve into the history of cider-making at Hereford Cider Museum. Hereford produces a staggering 60% of the world’s cider and the museum is housed in a former cider factory where Bulmer’s Cider was first produced.
Have lunch or afternoon tea at La Madeleine, a French café situated along a cobbled street close to the cathedral. It has a hidden garden at the back. Hereford Cathedral also has its own café with some outdoor tables. Its scones served with fresh cream and strawberries didn’t go unnoticed by me!
Opposite La Madeleine is The Mouse Trap Cheese Shop where you can buy local cheeses including Stinking Bishop, Monkland, and Hereford Hop. They sell one of my favourites – the Godminster Heart (a great gift for a cheese-lover). It’s not local but it is a tasty organic Cheddar coated in wax (next time you visit Somerset, make a cheese-tasting detour to the Godminster Farm Shop in Bruton).
Take the Tour of Westons Cider Mill
The Herefordshire village of Much Marcle is famous for two things. For over 135 years, cider has been produced at Westons Cider Mill where tours take place four times a day. It’s also the birthplace of Fred West, one of Britain’s most notorious murderers (but they won’t tell you that on the tour).
Buy the Ploughman’s lunch tour package and after your cider tasting, sit down at the mill’s Scrumpy House Restaurant to eat local artisan cheeses and cider-baked ham.
Read more about the Westons Cider Mill Tour.
Westons Cider was founded by Henry Weston
Visit Westons Cider Mill at Much Marcle
2. Visit Bailey’s Home Store in Bridstow
I read about Baileys Home Store years ago and had always wanted to visit. I wasn’t disappointed. Spread over different barns and outbuildings, it is curated with simple but stylish utilitarian products for the home. The kitchen section was full of temptations. I have a soft spot for vintage kitchenware so bought an old W P Hartley stoneware marmalade jar with its lighthouse trademark stamp and Liverpool and London markings.
Bailey’s Home Store has an amazing kitchen section
Stop for tea and cake in the Tabernacle Tea Room
Have tea and cake in Bailey’s Tabernacle Tea Room. It’s so adorable I wish I could install it in my own garden and invite friends over for tea. I tried the apple and cider cake. They also do tasty sandwiches.
I stayed at Brooks Country House and loved it. It’s a newly refurbished 22 bed Georgian manor hotel with its own vineyard set in 13 acres of parkland. Located just outside Ross-on-Wye, it’s in an ideal spot for exploring all the places I’ve recommended. Room rates start at £89.
Relax with a drink in the hotel bar
Drink a glass of wine produced from the hotel’s vineyard
BEST TIME TO VISIT
July – Ledbury Celebration of Poetry, Music, Food and Drink
August – Herefordshire Country Fair
September – On your way to the Abergavenny or Ludlow Food Festivals
October – The Big Apple – an annual celebration of English apples and cider when many of Herefordshire’s cider farms open their doors. There are guided walks and a cider cycle ride.
SHOP THIS STORY
Inspired by my foodie weekend break in Herefordshire, here’s my pick of stylish gifts and products for food lovers.
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