Tucked away alongside the Welsh border, Herefordshire lies in
the shadow of the Brecon Beacons and Black Mountains of Wales, and
is bordered by England's picturesque Wye Valley to the
south and the gentle rolling Malvern Hills, famed for the purest
spring water, to the east. An idyllic agricultural land, bursting
with fruit orchards, meadows and criss-crossed with ancient
hedgerows, come and discover sleepy market towns of black and white
half-timbered houses belonging to centuries long past; witness hops
and cider still produced in time-honoured fashion and marvel as
life continues quietly just as it has down the years. A
Herefordshire cottage holiday truly is a return to an era free from
the pressures of modern life; an opportunity to taste the quiet
freedom of the countryside, discover country lanes with kestrels
soaring high above, rest your eyes on carpets of lush, green fields
at every turn and be lulled by the sound of rivers and brooks
babbling quietly by.
The Cathedral city of Hereford stands on the meandering river Wye; rent a Herefordshire cottage in the surrounding countryside and explore the cathedral with its two remarkable medieval treasures; the Mappa Mundi, dating from the thirteenth century, and the ancient Chained Library, dating back still further, to the eighth century. The incongruous Old House is a veritable treasure trove of a black and white house, dating from the seventeenth century and lovingly preserved complete with gorgeous English oak furniture, standing at the heart of the now-pedestrianised shopping centre. Here you'll also find the town's Museum and Art Gallery, while nearby the Bishop's Palace is one of the country's oldest timber halls; you can almost feel the history seeping out from within the ancient wooden beams. Cider is the city's most famous export; see it being produced then tickle your taste buds with a dram of apple aperitif or a drop of cider liqueur at the Cider Museum and King Offa Distillery.
Discover the true essence of Herefordshire in its rural towns and villages. Well- constructed trails make it a pleasure to discover uncover them on four wheels or two. By car, follow the forty-mile circular Black and White Village Trail heading west from the market town of Leominster, as it passes through the most picturesque of the county's ancient villages. The half-timbered black and white houses and cottages are redolent of centuries past. Villages such as Kington, on the Welsh border, and Eardisland , one of the prettiest villages one could hope to find, display their own unique character and charm; you'll usually find some good specialist shops, tea rooms, a welcoming local pub and intriguing craft or antique shops too. Leave the car behind and head off on the 'cider cycle', a couple of designated, circular routes of some twenty miles through farms and orchards, passing cider producers, with plenty of country pubs and tea rooms, as well as the opportunity for sampling the golden fizz en route.
Ross on Wye is a lovely town perched high on a rocky sandstone bluff. A Herefordshire cottage here makes a great base for exploring the many delights of the beautiful Wye valley, including popular local tourist attractions such as Symonds Yat beauty spot, where rare peregrine falcons nest in the rock face, or nearby Goodrich, with its striking twelfth century castle. Sports enthusiasts will find the river Wye an excellent centre for canoeing, kayaking and white water rafting. Picturesque Ledbury has its fair share of half-timbered houses, including the Butcher's Row house museum and the old market hall, as well as Weston's traditional cider farm and a number of interesting speciality shops, and is particularly good for antiques. Nearby Eastnor Castle, Deer Park & Arboretum is a popular visitor attraction. Head to Leominster in the Welsh Marshes for market day and bargain hunting, whilst nearby Hampton Court Gardens, Queensford Arboretum and Country Park and Berrington Hall make for popular days out. A Herefordshire cottage in or around Kington will be a well-chosen location for walkers. Here, everything from riverside rambles in the tranquil Golden Valley or strenuous hikes on the well-trodden paths of Offa's Dyke or the Mortimer Trail is readily accessible. Gardeners will love the Hergest Croft Gardens while those with small children will enjoy the Small Breeds Farm Park and Owl Sanctuary at nearby Kingswood.
Further afield, beyond the county border, your Herefordshire cottage will be your base for discovering many natural beauty spots and historic sites. The chocolate-box villages and hamlets of the Cotswolds; Shakespeare's birthplace in lovely Stratford upon Avon , Worcestershire's walks in the Malvern Hills, and the scenic Severn Valley Railway. Enjoy quiet market towns such as Evesham and Pershore in the pretty Vale of Evesham, or Hay on Wye in the Brecon Beacons National Park. Croft Castle, close to the Shropshire border, is a handsome, castellated manor house set in beautiful parkland with a restored walled garden and fine gothic interiors; while further on into Shropshire the 'slow town' of Ludlow is a delight not to be missed, with a superb castle of its own and a feast of speciality food shops for gourmets.
A Herefordshire cottage holiday allows you to choose the best of local produce to create your perfect evening in after a hard day's walking, sightseeing or relaxing. Savour salmon from the river Wye, finest Hereford beef reared on local farms or a thirst-quenching bottle of Herefordshire cider from the county's orchards. Shop for traditional cheeses, such as Hereford sage and Dorstone Finn, or organically produced sausages at Farmer's markets and when dining out, look out for the 'Flavours of Herefordshire' logo to ensure the best in locally grown produce.
Renting a Herefordshire cottage is to experience a tiny slice of idyllic country life. From Leominster in the North, Ledbury in the east, Ross on Wye in south and Kington in the west, a Sykes Herefordshire cottage is the place to breathe in the fresh air of a fertile agricultural land, drop the pace of life down a notch or two, and indulge in a gentle journey of discovery from your own little home from home in a land refreshingly bypassed by the modern age.