Day 1: Wild moorland walk, even wilder ponies & riverside picnic
After a chilled out breakfast, head for Kington to conquer Hergest Ridge. It’s one of our ‘easy peaks’, so climb the short, steep ascent to be rewarded with jaw-dropping 360-degree views. Roam free around the untamed moorland and spot the Victorian racecourse as well as the wild mountain ponies which graze here. There’s endless routes, so you can hike as many miles as you like before returning to Kington for a well-earned coffee and cake. Pick up provisions at the deli which is brimming with local produce, from cider to chocolate. The next stop is Pembridge, one of the area’s ridiculously pretty black and white villages. Stop at the bridge for a paddle in the River Arrow and a lazy picnic on the pebble beach. Drive on to Shobdon Court to peep into Shobdon Church, an English Rococo beauty which never fails to surprise. Then, follow the tree-lined footpath, up the sloping hill opposite, to see the carved arches of the original church which were installed as a folly back in 1756. For an extra leg stretch, take the 5.5 mile Shobdon circular walk through woods and rolling countryside. After dinner at the nearby Bateman Arms, drive back to CruckBarn to cosy up around the firepit with toasted marshmallows.
Day 2: Woodland hike, artisan cider & tree-hugging
Start the day rambling around the romantic, overgrown ruins of Wigmore Castle, only minutes away from Cruckbarn. At the heart of turbulence and drama for 500 years, many of its walls are now buried several metres deep but it’s easy to imagine the castle’s grand past. Trek on to Wigmore Rolls forest - or tackle it on mountain bikes - reaching the summit which is 288 metres high. The 5-mile circular route arrives back in the village, just in time for you to refuel at one of the pubs. The Oak and The Castle Inn always get a thumbs up. Then, it’s time to meet a local maker. Taste the craft ciders at Newton Court Farm or visit Monkland Cheese Dairy where they make speciality cheeses by hand, including Little Hereford. Then take your pick from a mooch around the market town of Leominster and its treasure trove of antique shops and independent boutiques or visit the National Trust’s Croft Castle. The intimate family home and walled garden are lovely to wander around but the real must-see is the ancient trees, from the 1000-year old Quarry Oak and the majestic avenue of Spanish chestnuts to the wonderfully-named Candelabra Oak. In the evening, kick back at the tranquil Riverside Inn in Aymestrey, winner of the national Slow Food Award for best restaurant.
Day 3: Rambling castle ruins, forest bathing & lunch on the river
On your final day, head over to Richards Castle, a tiny village on the border with Shropshire. Wander through the churchyard, where butterflies flit through the wild flowers, and past the detached bell tower which was likely once part of the castle defences. Walk through the gate in the graveyard to enjoy a ramble around the atmospheric castle ruins. Climb to the top of the rare octagonal keep - once two storeys higher - for magnificent views and don’t miss to say hello to the resident goats! It feels miles away from everyday life here. Then, it’s up the road to Mortimer Forest, a thousand hectares of trees - the ideal spot to practice the Japanese art of forest bathing. Stop off at Vinnalls Car Park and follow the white markers to take the 9-mile Climbing Jack trail. Breathe it all in and pause - this is a place to reset and recharge, with only the birds for company. Back at the car, make for The Lion in Leintwardine. Nab a table on the banks of the River Teme and sup a local beer or cider over your last lunch in Herefordshire...for now at least!