North Herefordshire's Black and White Villages are an absolute delight. Brimming with character, the pretty villages make for a lovely stroll, be sure to bring your camera! Cosy pubs and tea rooms, art galleries and village shops are found en route, as well as castle ruins, country churches, open gardens and historic houses.
This is cider country so a springtime visit will be accompanied by clouds of apple blossom whilst autumn brings the harvest - the perfect time to visit our cider makers and watch cider being made.
To follow the 40-mile trail, look out for the brown and white tourist road signs and pick up a leaflet at Leominster Tourist Information. Please be prepared for - and patient with - farm vehicles, particularly on minor roads.
With stops at the villages and places of interest along the way, the circuit provides an enjoyable excursion. And there's no need to rush... make a break of it by staying en route.
Our Tudor Villages
On the way to Pembridge you’ll pass many apple orchards, particularly magical at blossom time. In the village, the timber-framed buildings which line the main street are quintessentially English, including some fine almshouses. In medieval times, this was a prosperous place, enjoying the patronage of the powerful Mortimer family.
At the sixteenth century Market Hall you can see the notches on the pillars where merchants wedged planks in order to display their wares. The 'mark stone' on the north east corner suggests that trading has happened on this site for countless years but it was in 1240 that Henry III officially granted the market.
From the Market Square follow the steps to St Mary's Church which boasts an extraordinary detached belfry which is reminiscent of a pagoda. Its size shows how important Pembridge once was as a settlement. Meanwhile, The New Inn anything but new. Dating back 700 years to when the farmer's wife brewed ale to sell to the merchants at the market hall. It still retains its flagstone floor and curved settle beside the fireplace.
Peruse contemporary art and craft at the Old Chapel Gallery and call in at the Ye Olde Steppes shop and tea room. Or walk over the bridge to find the pebble beach, the perfect place for a paddle or a picnic.
A short drive takes you to the Cider Barn Restaurant at the original home of Dunkertons Cider, which offers gourmet food and drinks in idyllic orchard surroundings. Further along you’ll find Luntley Dovecote, dating from 1673 - even our feathered friends enjoy the timber-framed treatment!
Pronounced 'weblee', the village was once famed for its wool making and then its gloves and ale. Its lack of transport links meant that the industrial revolution passed it by so farming is still very important here today.
Park in the centre of the village and explore on foot. Follow the Heritage Trail to see fine examples of timber-framed buildings, including cruck cottages and Wealden houses, as well as the place where Charles 1st stayed during the Civil War. Another particular favourite is the pink and black house.
Wander over to the fine church of St Peter and St Paul to see its 185 feet high spire, which is supported by flying buttresses, and then stroll around the moat and earthworks of Weobley Castle.
There are plenty of places to refuel: The Green Bean cafe serves excellent coffee and cakes, sample local ciders at Ye Olde Salutation Inn, or for French dining try Jules Restaurant (advance booking essential).
Sitting on the grassy banks of the River Arrow, Eardisland is simply sublime. A classic English village, there's many picturesque Black and White houses here, including some thatched beauties.
Stand on the stone bridge to see the Old School House (complete with Whipping Post!) and the Manor House opposite. A short distance on the left, along the Leominster Road, see the fine Staick House which dates from around 1300. It was originally a Yeoman's hall and later became the Mote House where legal matters were dealt with.
Other attractions in the village include the moated Saxon castle mound as well as the oldest AA kiosk in Britain. An unusual 17-century dovecote sits next to the bridge, with a busy community shop on the ground floor. The parish church dates from 1200, look up to see an interesting example of a medieval timber roof which would have been added around the14th -15th century.
Just a short walk along the river from here, you'll find a super place for stone-skimming and paddling. Afterwards, relax in one of the two traditional beamed country pubs or in the tea room.
Eardisley is celebrated for its fine church font. Elaborately carved, it is the work of the Herefordshire School of Romanesque Sculpture,
There are two local pubs, including one which takes its name - The Tram Inn - from the early 19th century horse-drawn tramway which brought Welsh coal to the village.
A mile or so away at Hurstway Common, you can visit the Great Oak, an enormous 900-year-old hollow tree, thought to be one of the oldest and largest oaks in England.
As you continue your travels around the trail, arrange to pop into Orgasmic Cider or take a diversion to Small Breeds Farm & Owl Centre where they have one of the largest collections of owls in Europe.
Lyonshall has a delightful church which sits alongside the ruins of the moated castle on the hillside overlooking the village. To the south west, there is a well-preserved section of Offa's Dyke.
The village lies half a mile away - following the Black Death in 1348/50, survivors rebuilt the village a good distance from its original site, meaning that the church became 'stranded'! There's a cluster of black and white cottages here to enjoy.
You’ll see rolling fields all around, some of which grow blackcurrants for British Cassis which is made locally - book a tour if you want to find out more.
A very old settlement with a traditional village green, encircled by black and white cottages. The name Dilwyn means shady or secret place, which is very apt for its setting in a wooded hollow.
The cottages by the green were converted from a tithe barn, built over 300 years ago to house the tithes (taxes in kind) that every landholder had to pay to the Lord of the Manor and the church Rector.
The sandstone St Mary's Church dates from the late 12th century and is large compared to the size of the village. And its church registers, dating from 1558, have survived in complete tact.
The original forge is now a tea room and gallery, whilst looking out onto the green, you’ll find The Crown Inn, a real ale pub.
The classic starting point for a tour of the Black and White Villages, Leominster is an unpretentious market town which is known for its wealth of antiques shops. Its unique timber-framed buildings include the magnificent Grange Court which was built in 1633. It is the last surviving market house known to be built by the craftsman John Abel, who was known as the King's carpenter.