Think of this rich farming county and you might lick your lips at the thought of a steak. Juices oozing. Or maybe a glass of cider?
Happily, you’ll almost certainly come back from a weekend break in Herefordshire having tasted both.
Drive down Herefordshire’s quiet country lanes and you’ll see apple orchards, hopyards, vineyards, fruit growers’ polytunnels and the region’s famous Herefordshire cattle grazing in the fields.
It isn’t hard to find Herefordshire’s best 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 in Herefordshire. You’ll find booking links below and tempting suggestions for places to eat, drink and shop local.
Where to Stay in Herefordshire
For a boutique hotel near Ross-on-Wye, stay at Brooks Country House. Refurbished by new owners in 2016, the country house hotel is marketed as offering its guests ‘affordable luxury’.
You’ll find the former manor house in a quiet and beautiful spot surrounded by fields with countryside views all around.
The 22 bedrooms all vary in size and have been stylishly decorated. If you’re planning a summer weekend break in Herefordshire, you can relax by the pool with a good book or the sunday papers. Pricewise, it’s a mid range option and breakfast is included.
Foodie Travel Guide Tip: Shop for local Herefordshire produce including cider, preserves and fruit at Pengethley Farm Shop which is just down the road from the hotel.
Relax with a drink in the hotel bar
Drink a glass of wine produced from the hotel’s vineyard
Foodie Travel Guide Tip: Depending upon your preference, these other accommodation options would work well, too:
- For a boutique hotel near Hereford try The Verzon hotel
- For a local vineyard with accommodation, take a look at the rooms and lodges at the Three Choirs Vineyard
- For a gastro pub with rooms near Hereford, try The Greenman at Fownhope
- If you’re planning a self catering break, Sykes Cottages offer a good selection of holidays cottages in Herefordshire
Weekend Break in Herefordshire – 3 Day Itinerary
DAY 1 – 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. The popularity of English sparkling wine is rising rapidly so do take the opportunity to taste it here.
Foodie Travel Guide Tip: For a special Herefordshire twist, buy a bottle of British Cassis which is produced locally and treat yourself to a Herefordshire kir royale.
Find out more about the Three Choirs Vineyard.
Rows of vines at Three Choirs Vineyard where you can tour the vineyard and do a wine tasting
Visit the Historic Market Town of Ledbury
Ledbury is like something out of a period costume drama. It’s 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. Alongside beautiful fabrics there are table runners with ‘Bon Appétit’ embroidered along the border, great posters from Ledbury Poetry Festival and baskets of jewel-like colourful buttons.
Timbered buildings in the historic town of Ledbury
Shops in Ledbury
Ledbury has some good quality specialist shops. 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.
Foodie Travel Guide Tip: Wandering around Ledbury is even better with an ice cream from Just Rachael Ice Cream Parlour. It’s located in Ledbury’s iconic ‘house on stilts’. Besides serving their locally made, all natural ice cream, they also do coffees, sundaes and waffles.
Feeling peckish? Ceci Paolo, an Italian deli, sells delicious take away snacks and cakes. For traditional pork pies and sausage rolls, pop in to one of Ledbury’s two independent butcher’s shops – Wallers or Gurneys.
If you’re staying in a holiday cottage, how about buying some prime Herefordshire steak or a joint for an easy supper? Handley Organics sells a great selection of organic veg to go with it.
For drinks, pick up a bottle of wine or local cider. Hay Wines in Ledbury is an excellent and friendly independent wine shop. Just outside the town, in the direction of Bromyard, you’ll find The Hop Pocket Wine Shop selling a wide range of local wines, beers, ciders, spirits.
The restaurant at Verzon House
The hotel has a decked terrace outside
Places to Eat Near Ledbury
Ledbury has several cafés and pubs but if you want something smarter, have lunch at the Verzon hotel in Trumpet. Owned by Chase Distillery, the hotel’s restaurant offers a ‘Lobster and Fizz’ lunch for £20 a head (Mon- Sat) . If you ring ahead and make a booking, they’ll also prepare afternoon tea for you. Take it outside on their decked garden terrace and enjoy the countryside views.
If you’re partial to a scotch egg, make a beeline for The Nest at Little Verzons Farm which is nearby. You’ll find it just outside Ledbury on the road to Hereford. Owned and managed by The Hand Made Scotch Egg Company, you can take your pick from several scotch egg varieties.
But it’s not just about the scotch eggs at The Nest. The popular farm café serves classic brunch dishes, sandwiches, sharing platters and yummy cakes so it’s a great place to hang out for a lazy brunch or to linger over tea and cake.
The owners spent many years selling their scotch eggs at specialist food fairs which means that the farm shop and café menu both reflect the many small producers they know and respect.
The Nest is dog-friendly, too. The farm has 12-acres so after lunch you can stretch your legs and get some fresh air by taking your dog for a walk across the fields.
DAY TWO – 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 hotel, 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
Visit the Cathedral City of Hereford
You can’t visit the region without taking a peek inside Hereford Cathedral. It’s beautiful. In rotation with both Gloucester and Worcester cathedrals, it hosts the annual Three Choirs Festival in July.
Visit Hereford Cider Museum
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.
Places to Eat in Hereford
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.
Foodie Travel Guide Tip: Hereford Cathedral also has its own café with some outdoor tables. It serves delicious scones served with fresh cream and real strawberries.
Shops in Hereford
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 a local cheese but it’s a tasty organic cheddar coated in wax (next time you visit Somerset, make a cheese-tasting detour to the Godminster Farm Shop in Bruton).
DAY 3 – 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).
Eat Lunch in Westons Cider Restaurant
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.
Find out more about the Westons Cider Mill Tour.
Westons Cider was founded by Henry Weston
Visit Westons Cider Mill at Much Marcle
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’s curated with simple but stylish utilitarian products for the home. The kitchen section was full of temptations including vintage kitchenware like old W P Hartley stoneware marmalade jars with their trademark lighthouse 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
Stop For Afternoon Tea
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. And, when in Herefordshire, it would be rude not to try the apple and cider cake. They also do tasty sandwiches.
What’s the Best Time of Year to Visit Herefordshire?
There are some wonderful events that take place in the region throughout the year. Food lovers might like to plan their weekend break in Herefordshire around these key dates:
On the early May Bank Holiday weekend and again in October, to coincide with the apple harvest – The Big Apple . This is 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.
May – The Ross Beer Festival and the Eastnor Chilli Festival
July – Ledbury Celebration of Poetry, Music, Food and Drink
August – Herefordshire Country Fair
September – Visit Herefordshire on your way to the Abergavenny Food Festival or Ludlow Food Festival
This post was originally published in August 2016 and has since been updated to reflect recent changes.
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Sally is the founder and editor of The Foodie Travel Guide. She travels around the UK and beyond in search of the best foodie days out, tasting experiences and delicious places to stay. She loves a glass of English sparkling wine, afternoon tea with friends and escaping London for gastronomic adventures.