Herefordshire is one of those English counties that doesn’t receive the recognition it deserves. It is stacked full of historic towns and villages, some dating from the 6th or 7th century; it has beautiful rolling countryside; and its location on the border between England and Wales meant it was strategically important for several centuries of conflict between Anglo-Saxons/Normans and Celtic Welsh principalities.
With its modern history firmly embedded in the aftermath of the Norman Conquest of 1066, it has a legacy of language, culture and architecture that befits an area of the Welsh Marches. The Marches were the western frontier for the conquering Normans, ruled by independent Marcher Lords through military power with barely any control exerted on them by the King.
Walking through the countryside between the Malvern Hills and Ledbury makes for a wonderful journey, and takes you out of Worcestershire and into Herefordshire. The views over the rich, agricultural countryside are magnificent, often with the Malvern Hills as a backdrop. You pass through picturesque villages with ancient buildings and beautiful churches, only to find yourself face-to-face with semi-fortified country houses in the middle of nowhere.
It is a predominately agricultural county and, while it may be famous for its Hereford cattle, it is also the centre of an ancient and renowned cider making industry. The latter, far more interesting to someone who has been walking for several hours under a hot sun.
I headed over the Malvern Hills to the village of Evendine, before cutting across country towards Colwall (home of another spring dispensing Malvern Water). It was in the countryside between the two that I came across Brockbury Hall: the majority of this historic house dates from the 18th century, but parts of it are 17th century. It even has the remains of a former moat. The Hall has been in the same family since the 16th century, much of the family money in the 18th century seems to have come from the West Indies – sugar, rum, slaves?
A short walk from Brockbury Hall is the small hamlet of Colwall, which has a lovely Norman church – none of your towering spires for the Normans, just solid squares. I couldn’t go inside as there was a wedding, but it is a picturesque place. I was heading to Oyster Hill (no idea why its called Oyster, its miles from the sea), from which there are magnificent views all the way to the Black Mountains in Wales. Here you can join the Herefordshire Way, a trail that takes you into the historic town of Ledbury, my final destination.
The surprises hadn’t ended though. As I walked south towards Ledbury I found myself crossing park land. Before I could look at the map, a magnificent walled house emerged out of the trees: Hope End. I didn’t know, but this is where Elizabeth Barrett Browning, one of the most famous poets of the nineteenth century, lived. The beautiful countryside around this area inspired some of her most famous work, including the epic blank verse Aurora Leigh, part of which is set in Malvern. She was married to Robert Browning, no slouch himself when it came to poetry.
After passing through the village of Wellington Heath and some shady woodland, I was suddenly in the outskirts of Ledbury. Ledbury is an ancient and much photographed market town, well worth a couple of hours exploration, but that would have to wait for a refreshing pint of local cider to be poured and drunk…
6 thoughts on “Into cider country, a walk through Herefordshire”
First, I love that thistle photo! Second, I also love the recent blogs about walks in England. It’s been quite some time since I’ve been back ‘home’ and it’s nice to be able to explore the countryside from the otherside of the world.
Thank you. Its been lovely to have time to go walking (must get a job soon though!), and the weather’s been OK. I’d still rather be in South America though, there’s so much I still want to do. I just saw your brilliant oven glove (?) from Sagarnaga. Superb! Makes me long to be back.
You caught some amazing skies on this excursion. I really like your third shot, the landscape with the grain fields and the one from oyster hill. Both have a very pleasing balance. I have to agree that is an impressive glass house, I hope it’s put to good use.
Thank you. Its one of the wonderful things about that part of the country – huge skies. They really are very beautiful.
That railway crossing sign is somewhat confusing? A stile gets the walker over the fence – what then? Fly across the tracks? 🙂
Hope End House looks wonderful, and that glasshouse is magnificent!! The whole garden epitomises the classic English walled garden! Love it 🙂
I think the rules are Stop, Look, Listen and Run. You just walk across the rails with your fingers crossed. Funnily enough, I crossed the line and was climbing the stile on the other side when a train whizzed past. A little unsettling. Its such a shame Hope End isn’t open to the public, I’d have loved to look around.