With Britain’s coastal hotspots expected to be full for summer holidays this year, Visit Herefordshire is coming to the rescue with some inspiration for ‘free range’ fun for families planning their travels now we know the road map for ‘unlocking’. What’s more, unlike many areas of the UK there are still plenty of great value for money options with space for peak summer travel for camping, glamping, cosy cottages, boutique hotels and gastro pubs.
Bordered by Shropshire, Worcestershire, Gloucestershire and Wales, this under the radar county offers incredible outdoor adventures, stunning scenery, delicious food and a range of excellent accommodation to suit all budgets.
These seven new trip ideas from Visit Herefordshire show how swapping the crowded coast or lakes for messing about on the River Wye or venturing up Hergest Ridge to walk with the wild ponies would be an appealing way to make the most of precious family time away this summer.
Multi Day Canoe trip from Hereford to Symonds Yat
Taking to the water in a canoe on a multi-day adventure is a pretty exciting prospect for families who have been cooped up, paddling and camping overnight along the way. There are lots of good companies to choose from who arrange the canoe hire such as Canoe the Wye which offers guided and self-guided trips providing a unique opportunity to discover this photogenic river. A favourite is the three day Hereford to Symonds Yat trip. After a couple of days exploring the cathedral city of Hereford with its hipster foodie scene and ‘laneway’ shopping, families embarking on the canoe trip are in for a treat. Highlights include camping at Tresseck Park in the lovely village of Hoarwithy, elegant suspension bridges, the vibrant market town of Ross-on-Wye, ancient castles including Goodrich and gorgeous grassy picnic spots. Keep eyes peeled for Peregrine falcon sightings and deer as you near Symonds Yat. To complete the week book into the YHA Wye Valley for three nights. Set in 25 acres bang on the banks of the River Wye it even has its own canoe landing station – ideal for families who want to get back out on the water to try out paddle boarding and wild swimming. Those that want to stay on dry land will enjoy the miles of surrounding walking and cycling trails such as the Peregrine Trail which is largely traffic tree. As well as private rooms, this hostel boasts beautiful glamping tents and camping pitches.
Family rooms at the Green Dragon Hotel in Hereford cost from £140 based on an overnight stay and breakfast for a family of four. www.greendragonhotel.com
A night at the YHA Wye Valley costs from £99 per family (based on four sharing a private room). www.yha.org.uk.
Fast and Furious Adrenalin Breaks to Burn Off Lockdown Blues
Families deserve a break after all those months of home schooling and what better blow out than an adventure break including high ropes, axe throwing, archery and quad trekking? All of these activities can be enjoyed by combining time at Oaker Wood Leisure – a specialist outdoors activity centre with quadding, high ropes, rafting and more; with a visit to the Viking Games in the south west corner of the county where you can try six traditional Nordic games amongst other activities. They are about a 55 minute drive apart so either base yourself up near Oaker Wood which offers exclusive use glamping for family groups; or down near the Viking Games either on site in one of their Belle Tents or at one of the nearby B&Bs, barns or farmstays. Either side of these two experiences families will enjoy exploring local National Trust properties, hiking trails and cycle routes. Keen golfers should check out the course at Kington – the highest 18 holer in England.
The Belle Tents at The Viking Games sleep up to five and cost from £95 per night. Reductions offered when booking activities at the same time. www.thevikinggames.co.uk/glamping. Or you can book out one of the two glamping villages at Oaker Wood Leisure, perfect for families who want to holiday together but prefer separate sleeping accommodation. Packages including two nights glamping and two onsite activities start from £170 per person based on 12 sharing.
Wild about Wildlife Adventures
Families looking for a big hit of native wildlife will enjoy hiking with wild ponies at Hergest Ridge near Kington, llama treks with local farmers and visits to Herefordshire Wildlife Trust’s excellent collection of nature reserves. A week will give visitors an excellent flavour of Herefordshire but to really relax and make the most of the many wildlife adventures on offer stay even longer. White Heron’s collection of cottages, with outside swimming pool access, make for a great base and there is still some availability for the summer including the school holidays. Prices start from £730 per week (based on four sharing a cottage) arriving and leaving on a Friday. All stays include a local food welcome pack including their own famous British Cassis, access to a 700 acre estate and a warm welcome from the White Heron team. www.whiteheronproperties.com
Dog Friendly Escapes
Many families who invested in a lockdown puppy over the last year will be looking for dog friendly holidays this year. Herefordshire is a county which welcomes pooches with open arms. There are great walking trails including the Mortimer Trail and Wye Valley Walk; and a wide range of dog friendly accommodation to choose from. Farm stays and self catering cottages such as Flanesford – a collection of eight characterful cottages with some lovely historic features – make for a great base. Sleeping from two to ten people and all dog friendly, Flanesford’s cottages are set in the heart of Herefordshire’s Wye Valley close to Ross on Wye. Prices for the cottages sleeping three or more start from £327 for a three night stay. www.flanesford.com
History Buffs and Literary Lovers
History buffs and book worms looking to discover a part of the UK they may never have considered before will be richly rewarded in Herefordshire. Kids and grownups alike will enjoy exploring the county’s Iron Age Hill Forts, Stone Age Burial Chambers, castles, museums, churches and ancient battlegrounds. Trying on the medieval helmets at Eastnor Castle near Ledbury is great family fun as is exploring Longtown Castle dating back to the 12th century with magnificent views over the Black Mountains. Other local favourites include Wigmore Castle and Richard’s Castle. There is also much to discover in Hereford city itself with Mappa Mundi in Hereford Cathedral. For those interested in ley lines, 2021 marks the centenary of Alfred Watkins discovering ley lines. Visit Herefordshire will be launching a guide to Watkins explaining the significance of his revelation that a system of straight lines criss-crossed the countryside worldwide, and that these tracks connect ancient spiritual sites. On the book front, fans of C S Lewis will enjoy spending time in the Golden Valley – his inspiration for Narnia, and those that love John Masefield’s ‘The Box of Delights’ will enjoy literary Ledbury where John was born. Hay-on-Wye with its bookshops and cafes is a delight in itself and makes for a great base for this type of trip. Rooms at the historic coaching inn, Feathers Hotel, in Ledbury cost from £75 B&B per night. www.feathersledbury.co.uk
Tipi Stays, Cider Cycling & A Secret Beach
In 2020 Visit Herefordshire launched two new cider cycling circuits which link some of the county’s best cider producers. Families keen on exploring by two wheels will love these routes which combine stunning rural scenery with some great orchards, farms and family friendly pubs. The kids will need to stick to the homemade apple juice, but the parents can reward themselves with a cold cider at the end of a day out and about! The routes can be done by experienced cyclists over a day, or broken up, with families enjoying shorter sections such as exploring the cider producers of Much Marcle and visiting Hellens Manor, Westons Cider with its playground and Greggs Pit. Mixing up the bike riding with some river activities such as paddle boarding or kayaking would be a great combination. And, there’s a wide choice of farmstays, B&Bs, gorgeous glamping, hip hostels or cosy cottages to suit. A firm family favourite is White House Glamping near Ross on Wye which ties in very nicely with the southern cider circuit. Boasting a secret ‘beach’, outdoor cinema, firepits, a lovely dairy farm and direct river access, these five tipis firmly tick the wholesome family fun boxes with prices starting from £357 for a three night stay in July for a family of four. www.whitehouseonwye.co.uk.
Pre-Schooler and Parent Friendly – relaxing gentle adventures for frazzled families with little ones
Frazzled families with pre-schoolers in tow looking for a relaxing escape this summer will also be catered for well. Pottering around National Trust properties such as the glorious Berrington Hall, Croft Castle and Brockhampton make for leisurely days out with family friendly cafes and adventure playgrounds aplenty. Hampton Court Castle is a great place for little ones to let off steam and its fabulous café and gardens will keep the grownups happy too! Locals in the know enjoy Rowlestone Ice Cream with its ice cream parlour, play area, woodland adventure trail and campsite. But some of the best moments of a family holiday in Herefordshire will be playing by the riverbank and having a picnic in a gorgeous scenic spot. Parents can be reassured that the foodie scene in Herefordshire is thriving, so good local produce served by cafes, restaurants and farm shops is guaranteed. There’s even a cornucopia of soft fruits ripe for picking at farms across the county – many of which welcome families for ‘pick your own’ experiences. Wet days are covered if families book a cosy cottage to hole up in, and experiences like family crafts at Eastnor Pottery make for great fun. Animal lovers will enjoy feeding ponies and goats at Newbridge Park Farm near Ledbury and parents can relax with a coffee as the little ones run riot in their awesome outdoor play area. The Small Breeds Farm Park and Owl Centre is home to a wonderful collection of miniature, rare and friendly creatures guaranteed to delight guests of all ages. For a real treat and for those missing their swimming sessions with the pools Covid shut, book into one of the cottages at Lakes Edge, three have their own indoor heated pools. Prices start from £350 per night and a minimum five night stay is required during the summer www.lakesedge.co.uk