Cycle Route for Autumn Days in Herefordshire
Autumn is the perfect time to explore Herefordshire by bike. Cycle rolling backroads between picturesque hamlets and farms at which Herefordshire’s finest ciders and perries are created. Herefordshire glows gold and russet this season – both with the autumn hues of the foliage, and with the colours of the apples and Perry pears ripening in orchards across the county.
As part of their ‘Apples for Autumn’ Campaign Visit Herefordshire have designed two specially curated cycle routes, each named for a favourite apple variety. We recommend the Northern cycle circuit as it is the closest to join from Hay on Wye. It is the perfect outdoor activity for Autumn day in Herefordshire. The Northern Cider Circuit loops through some of Herefordshire’s prettiest black-and-white villages,
Herefordshire’s Northern Cider Cycle Circuit
The Newtown Wonder Cycle
North of the city of Hereford stretches an undulating swathe of farmland, orchards and forested hills, studded with renowned ‘Black-and-White Villages’. These are settlements whose streets are lined with the traditional timber-framed houses so typical of Herefordshire. Join the 49-mile cycle loop in Weobley and visit a succession of alluring hamlets, historic sites and passionate producers creating fine ciders, perries and juices to refresh thirsty cyclists.
4 – Weobley
Cycle the 16miles from Hay on Wye and join the cycle route in Weobley. Weobley is the first and most substantial of the black-and-white Herefordshire villages on this route. It’s winding streets are studded with dozens of timber-framed buildings, some of them over 500 years old. Look out for the slender russet spire of medieval St Peter and St Paul’s Church. Pause to admire the wonderful carved wooden porch of the Old Grammar School (1660), then take a stroll around the village centre. Broad Street and Portland Street, either side of the Rose Garden, are lined with cafés, restaurants and pubs.
5 – Luntley Court
Narrow lanes wind north of the A4112 to Luntley Court, a cluster of historic houses ( mostly self-catering accommodation) set around the 17th-century manor. Standing alone in a field is a picturesquely leaning, timber-framed dovecote dating from 1673 and restored last century. Step inside to admire the most desirable dove accommodation in Herefordshire.
6 – Dunkertons Cider Mill & The Cider Barn
Susie and Ivor Dunkerton started making organic cider and perry from the apples and pears in their herefordshire orchards near Pembridge in 1980. Four decades later, though production has shifted to Gloucestershire, you can still pick up their awardwinning tipples from the Tudor-style barn. (open Friday and Saturday only; dunkertonscider.co.uk). The old Cider Barn alongside the Dunkertons shop is now a sophisticated but friendly cafébar and restaurant (the-cider-barn.co.uk) with a wonderfully warm ambience.
7 – Pembridge
The epicentre of north Herefordshire’s black-andwhite villages is Pembridge, a photographer’s delight – and a cyclist’s. Among the timberframed buildings lining High Street and East Street are several spots to top up caffeine and calories. The King’s House (kingshouseinn.co.uk) is a more upscale affair, while Ye Olde Steppes Tearoom (01544 388506) offers sandwiches, locally baked treats and sensational cakes. There’s also a small shop. Alongside, the Old Chapel Gallery (oldchapelgallery.co.uk) hosts regularly changing exhibitions of contemporary art and crafts. Behind the 17th-century New Inn is the Market Hall, dating from the previous century. Stairs opposite lead to the medieval St Mary’s Church and its curious, even older octagonal freestanding belltower.
8 – Eardisland
Small but perfectly formed, Eardisland is, if anything, even prettier than Pembridge, straddling the River Arrow as it meanders east towards its
confluence with the Lugg. The Community Shop (01544 388984), housed in a 17th-century brickbuilt dovecote, is the place to pick up local treats, while The White Swan (thewhiteswaneardisland.com) serves more substantial fare. Venture south along the main street to admire the array of architectural styles before heading east towards your next stop.
9 – Monkland
The highlight of this little village, scattered across an attractive common, is the Monkland Cheese Dairy (monklandcheesedairy.co.uk) – outwardly
unremarkable, within a little brick cottage lies an Aladdin’s cave of cheese. Some half-dozen artisan cheeses are produced on site, there’s a well-lade.
deli counter offering many other local and regional varieties, and the cute tearoom serves excellent coffee and ploughman’s lunches featuring thickcut Herefordshire ham and of course the house cheeses – an essential stop.
10 – Newton Court Cider
Passion for traditional craft methods overflows at this artisan producer (newtoncourtcider.com) south of Leominster, where Paul Stephens has been creating full-juice ‘no-codswallop’ cider and perry for two decades. Call at the tasting room and shop – “Honk for cider”, proclaims the sign – or call ahead to join Paul on a tour of the orchards for the lowdown on how their fruits are used to ferment fine cider and perry.
11 – Butford Organic Cider & Perry
The presence of a 300-year-old cider mill at Butford (butfordorganics.co.uk) is a constant reminder of the region’s rich heritage, so it’s no surprise that tradition is key in the creation of this producer’s pure-juice – including single-variety – organic ciders and perries, a range now extending to a novel cider brandy. Call ahead to book a tasting or tour – and, naturally, to meet that venerable cider mill.
12 – The Black and White House Museum
Explore a compact but fascinating museum
(herefordshire.gov.uk/history-lives/herefordmuseums-art-gallery) housed in a remarkably well-preserved example of the classic Herefordshire timber-framed building. Dating from 1621, it is located in the heart of the city. With rooms furnished in period Jacobean style, including an internationally important collection of English oak furniture. This Autumn there are new displays of cider-making artefacts showcasing Herefordshire’s long history of apple and pear fermenting.
1 – The Apple Tree
Visit the centre of the old city at The Apple Tree, an inspiring mosaic set into the pavement in front of Hereford Cathedral’s West Front. Comprising 100 pieces of naturally coloured British stone, the image is encircled by inspiring lyrics from an 18th-centurycarol, a nod to the spiritual and natural heart of Herefordshire. “The tree of life my soul hath seen, Laden with fruit and always green; The trees of nature fruitless be, Compared with Christ the Apple Tree.”
2 – Bulmers & Yazor Brook
As you cycle west from the city centre along the busy A438, look for the vast Bulmers site to the right. Founded in 1887 and now owned by Heineken, Bulmers is the UK’s largest cider producer. Just before the Bulmers site, a cycle path to the left leads through the Yazor Widemarsh and Eign Brook Restoration Area, a peaceful meadow where you might spot pied wagtails, herons and diverse butterflies.
3 – Tillington and around
Emerging from Hereford’s outskirts, the road to Tillington snakes through a broad, orchardspeckled valley, with glorious views ahead to treeclad hills. Tillington itself has a handy village store selling cold drinks, fruit and ice creams. It’s worth stocking up before the long ascent that’s about to begin. The climb peaks near Wormsley at the Herefordshire Golf Club (herefordshiregolfclub.co.uk). The restaurant is a tempting option for Sunday lunch, and boasts spectacular views north and east across the verdant countryside towards Leominster.
**There are several smaller loops you can do if the full route looks a bit daunting. Starting in Weobley you could loop back after Monkland or Newton Court Cider to cut down the mileage.
No Bike – No Problem
Cycle hire in Hay on Wye and the Brecon Beacons
The Drover Cycles hire fleet is the most comprehensive in Wales, with a wide range of rental bikes for all ages and riding styles. The bikes are high quality and they clean and service them after every single hire, which means they are always in tip-top condition!
Hire bikes are supplied with a pump, repair kit and lock. Helmets are also provided, if required. So, you just need to arrive in the correct clothing for the weather conditions on the day and you’re good to go. For touring bikes they offer waterproof panniers to keep your kit clean and dry.