Friday, 16 August 2013

Something for the Weekend: Healthy Herefordshire


Tractors and Country living are frequently celebrated in Herefordshire at the numerous country and town shows

Whilst being in the countryside is not quite synonymous with a healthy weekend for me, it is fairly close. If nothing else, a slower pace of life and some really clear air do wonders for my health. Pair this with miles of stunning (and quite testing) walks literally on the doorstep, what more could you want? The ability to do canoeing or SAS-inspired activity weekends? Yep, we can do that too.

This post will focus on Herefordshire, one of the most sparsely populated counties in the UK and, I feel it is fair to say, often one of the more forgotten. I spent two years living in Hereford, working, making friends and exploring some truly stunning countryside. 


Walks 
The beauty of Herefordshire is that once you are outside Hereford City, a beautiful country walk is never more than a few steps away. Some of the most challenging in terms of terrain which I found were in the Golden Valley. This is the South West most part of the county with a smattering of mountain villages which border a smattering of Welsh mountain villages. Lush green vegetation and poorly surfaced roads alongside plenty of sheep, cowes and Llamas are the key features of the Golden Valley.

The Golden Valley from one of my walks
These are true walkers walks. No pub or tea shop every 10 minutes; take your thermos and a sandwich and go!

When planning a walk around Herefordshire, I have found the AA guides some of the best, you can search Herefordshire walks, by difficulty here http://www.theaa.com/walk-and-bike-ride.

Eating
Nutters Cafe in Hereford has to be one of the ultimate healthy eating places, not only in Herefordshire but in the Marches!  Tucked away in a courtyard on Church Street (near the Cathedral), Nutters really is a hidden gem.  Serving an excellent selection of healthy vegetarian food, you feel virtuous merely by eating here.  The quality and selection of the food is so high.  In comparison to many cafes in the county it is not cheap, but the superior quality of the food is worth every penny.

If you are feeling the need to unwind and be less virtuous then Gilbies Bar and Bistro would be my recommendation.  Located just behind the town centre, the courtyard provides the perfect location to unwind with some tapas or locally sourced food.

Intense action weekends 

Many of these include staying in a Yut in a field, hence the picture.

Being the home of the SAS, Herefordshire offers a wide variety of energetic weekend breaks.  From a day Paintballing near Fownhope to raft building to zorbing to camping and rowing on the wye to a formal boot camp you really cannot run out of ways to get healthy in Herefordshire.

If you need to recover for an evening, there is a fantastic range of country spa hotels including Holme Lacy House, an eighteenth century house with twenty-first century facilities.

Get your Tourist on!
If all this isn't enough to keep you busy in Herefordshire for a weekend then there is the selection of museums, tours and historical sites.

The Mappa Mundi is located next to Hereford Cathedral alongside one of the only chained libraries left in the country.  This medieval representation of our world is one for cartography enthusiasts and interested passers-by alike.

However, you cannot visit Herefordshire without going to either the Westons Cider Mill in Much Marcle or the Cider Museum in Hereford City.


However, if Tudor architecture is more your thing then the black and white house trail in the north of Herefordshire would probably be more up your alley. 

My enthusiasm for Herefordshire is probably clear from this post so, if you have a weekend and are in need of a healthy, rural retreat, this is one place which cannot be beat.

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