Places to stay, things to do, good food and drink
Fabulous topics chosen by walk leaders for this year’s Herefordshire Walking Festival from June 16-24 range from the exploration of historic hill forts to inspirational film settings and walks with a strong focus on the enjoyment of local fare.
Walkers can discover the backdrop for the recently-released film Resistance, based on the novel by local author Owen Sheers with a guided walk in the OlchonValley. There’s the choice of the mountain walk On the Black Hill, which also has literary connections with Bruce Chatwin and Raymond Williams, or Lost Landscapes and Past People, which explores the fascinating archaeology of the area. Walkers can also explore Coppett Hill and the Wye Gorge on a walk which takes in Symonds Yat Rock where Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 was filmed.
Several trails through farm fields are followed by chance to feast on the Herefordshire produce grown and reared there. These walks include Wonder of Pigs and Apples, an eight-mile route from Putley which leads to Noggin Farm for a pig and apple lunch; A Farmer’s Ramble and Roast, a three-mile farm walk with supper in a barn afterwards and Cats Back Ridge & Craswell Priory, a walk across the top of the Cats Back (Black Hill) returning through fields to a farm where a two-course supper will be ready.
For long-distance walkers who like to take an historical perspective on the landscape, Hereford Ramblers member Mary Watkins has researched and created an awe-inspiring route especially for the festival. Over two weekends she will lead four walks, each comprising one section of an unpublished route which meanders between castles and hill forts from Goodrich toHereford, taking in spectacular views and intriguing sites. These walks are intended to be booked together. Transport is provided and an accommodation list is available on request. A second long distance route, completed in three stages over the long weekend from June 16-18, follows the Herefordshire stretch of the Hereford & Gloucester Canal, along the towpath wherever possible.
Organisers have worked hard to ensure that, in its tenth year, the nine-day festival offers something for everyone with a programme packed full of old favourites and new ideas. There’s a choice of 44 routes of varying lengths and difficulty, taking in spectacular scenery and catering to a wide range of interests that include wildlife, history, land management and myths and legends. Walks are spread across the county, some beating its borders, and several take in sections of the walking routes through the area, including theMortimerTrail, the Three Castles Walk, the Herefordshire Trail and the Offas Dyke Path National Trail.
The chance to enjoy the flavour of the Herefordshire countryside by stopping for tea and cakes, tempting tasters from local producers, a ploughman’s or a drink in an atmospheric local pub is also often included. There’s even a Sunday morning Family Walk and a self-guided walk and treasure hunt which can be undertaken on any day of the festival, with the chance for sleuths to enter a prize draw at the end.
For the adventurous, there’s Symonds Yat, Rocks and River, a short walk to the cliff top and an abseil down! Walkers then continue to the River Wye, cross the landmark Biblins footbridge, disappear into the woods for another adventure and then catch the hand ferry across to the Saracen’s Head for a well-deserved drink.
Other interesting new departures this year include an introduction to geocaching and an eight-mile walk which includes a guided tour of historic Burton Court.
All walks in must be booked in advance and the full programme and booking information is available on the website www.visitherefordshire.co.uk