First thing’s first: find your bearings with a little stroll around the historic centre, starting at the Tourist Information Centre on King Street. Head down Gwynne Street and cross the Wye Bridge, then follow the riverside path until you come to Victoria Bridge. Cross and do a circuit of Castle Green (the site of Hereford Castle, the ruins of which were dismantled in the 18th century), walk down Castle Street then across Cathedral Close, where you can admire Edward Elgar’s handsome figure, pondering his next masterpiece. Elgar lived in the city from 1904 to 1911 and composed a number of his works here.
Hopefully this little walk will have worked up an appetite for a hearty morsel of Hereford beef. Follow your nose down King Street to The Orange Tree, one of the oldest pubs in Hereford. A succulent slab of fillet steak with herb butter and blue cheese sauce? Oh, go on then…
Wander along he river before venturing inside Hereford Cathedral
Welcome the day’s adventure with a hearty brekkie. Café@All Saints does a good one – you can savour eggy bread with bacon and maple syrup in the heart of a gorgeous working church. Sacred surroundings continue at the cathedral, home to the Mappa Mundi – the largest surviving medieval map of the world (see right). Take time to wander around the cathedral and gardens. On certain days you can climb the tiny stairwell up the tower, where you’ll be treated to a bird’s eye view of the city. A hop across the road is the city museum and art gallery, home to strange artefacts such as a two-headed cow.
If creaky oak furniture is your thing, the Old House in High Town should be your next port of call. This 17th-century merchant’s house is the sole surviving building of Butchers’ Row, which was demolished around 1862.
Grab a light lunch at The Rocket Café on St Owen Street (you can still see remnants of the city wall on this road), or wait a while and take afternoon tea at the Castle House Hotel.
Spend the rest of the afternoon browsing the pretty wares of the shops on Church Street, then get your glad rags on for an evening of good grub and a show at The Courtyard, or Turkish cuisine and live acoustic music at Muzey’s on Bridge Street. It’s been a long day, but you can’t say goodnight until you’ve sampled some real ale at The Barrels.
It’s time to escape the pealing of the city bells and explore a landscape of orchards, hop yards and gentle hills. Start a cracking view of Herefordshire at Queenswood Country Park on Dinmore Hill, which is on the A49 on the way to Leominster. The Japanese maples in the arboretum are a blaze of gold, burnt-orange and russet red in the autumn months.
It’s on the other side of the county, but the roast lunch at the Cottage of Content in Carey is worth the half-hour drive. Before you dive into your roast tatties, walk just over a mile to visit the Italianate church in Hoarwithy, which stands out like a beautiful thumb amid all this English pastoral scenery. This village on the banks of the Wye is simply lovely.
River Wye near Ross-on-Wye
Feeling energetic? Work off your roast and paddle a canoe from Hoarwithy to Ross-on-Wye, 10 miles downstream. There are several canoe hire companies here and you can arrange half a day’s fun and be picked up at various landing spots along the river. Feeling pooped? Head back to the pub and order pudding…
Main image: gettyimages