Travel right now is not easy, I am craving it desperately, but for the foreseeable future will be concentrating on exploring the best of Britain. Herefordshire is a county that I knew very little about, sandwiched between Shropshire to the north, Worcestershire to the east, Gloucestershire to the south-east, and Wales to the west. So when I was invited to explore its burgeoning independent food and drink scene I was intrigued and excited.
Despite the relentless rain we trundled down the motorway, just 4 hours even in rush hour Friday traffic. Visit Herefordshire arranged a great itinerary for me, ticking off key restaurants, pubs and artisan makers across the county.
First stop was Hereford, a cathedral town in the heart of the region. We were staying at the Green Dragon Hotel, charming accommodation that was a quiet and comfortable place to spend the night. Breakfast next morning was served downstairs in the light and airy dining room, a range of fresh seasonal dishes, including delicious mushrooms on toast, and granola with homemade berry compote.
There are quite a few eateries in Hereford worth trying, The Bookshop was one which everyone raved about, thanks to their great steaks and lively atmosphere. We had a great dinner here, the service was super friendly and the meat was noticeably of a high quality (you must try Hereford beef while visiting Herefordshire). We stopped by The Bookshop the next morning too for a coffee (they use the superior beans from local roastery, Method) and the brunch looked very tempting too.
After a brief walk around town, seeing the iconic cathedral and stopping by a couple of foodie shops (I recommend Fodder for bread & pastries, Mousetrap for local cheeses, and Sensory & Rye for coffee or brunch), we were on our way to our next destination…
Pensons is the only restaurant in Herefordshire to hold a Michelin star, which it was proudly awarded last year, less than a year after opening. Head chef Chris Simpson previously worked for Nathan Outlaw, and brings skill and a lightness of touch to the dishes at Pensons. The restaurant benefits from being located on the Netherwood Estate, which is surrounded by green pastures. There is also a bountiful kitchen garden which grows many of the vegetables and fruit you’ll find on your plate at Pensons! We devoured the three course lunch menu, memorable dishes included perfectly cooked Plaice with cauliflower, watercress and crab sauce, and Duck with beetroot and blackcurrant.
At Pensons we tried a delicious apple mocktail, and learnt a little about the incredible apples of the area. So it seemed fitting to visit Little Pomona next, craft cider makers who are producing some wonderfully refined drinks with the famous Herefordshire apples. Autumn is apple picking season and to celebrate Visit Herefordshire have created two great cider trails (The Cider Circuits) as part of their #madforapples initiative. The self-guided routes, both around 50 miles long, can be followed by bike or car and are named after two of the county’s apple varieties: The Newton Wonder heads north from Hereford, while The Redstreak heads south. Glorious Little Pomona features on the southern route.
Herefordshire is known for its striking black and white architecture which we were lucky to spy in many of the towns we drove through… Bromyard was a great place to admire the monochrome houses, and whilst in the area Bringsty Vintage shop is worth a visit for retro homeware and trinkets.
As the rain worsened we headed to Crumplebury, a lovely luxurious event space, with restaurant and rooms, surrounded by woodland, fields and animals.
Crumplebury has just reopened for the season and we were delighted to be one of the first to be back at this idyllic place. At the heart of the property is Green Cow Kitchens, the on site fine dining restaurant. We enjoyed a lavish dinner here before a very restful night’s sleep in The Oakley Suite, the most spacious and decadent suite Crumplebury offer. The room was decorated to a very high specification with modern amenities, a giant bed and a copper bathtub to ensure the most relaxing of stays.
We also had a chance to see some of the beautiful event spaces and wholesome wildlife, which is used seasonally in the restaurant. Crumplebury is a brilliant option for weddings and work functions, an isolated countryside escape with a five star feel.
Next morning we woke refreshed and revitalised, and after a quick but very tasty Crumplebury breakfast we headed off for a final morning of exploring.
We drove South towards Ross on Wye, for a hearty Sunday lunch at The Greenman, the celebrated pub in Fownhope. A generous roast awaited, with all the trimmings, the perfect sustenance before a local walk and the drive back home to London.
Herefordshire is the ideal weekend escape from London… an array of foodie spots are dotted amongst the verdant and gloriously green countryside, so you can both eat handsomely and get a breath of fresh air before returning to busy city life.
In collaboration with Visit Herefordshire.