Sightseeing doesn’t have to focus solely on the top museums, art galleries and esteemed restaurants. If you steer off the beaten path you’ll stumble across a more eclectic range of things to do, such as cable waterskiing in Yorkshire or paddling through whisky country in Scotland. There’s plenty of quirky things to do in Herefordshire, too. You may surprise yourself at just how many sights, attractions and experiences there are that fit the bill. From llamas to Neolithic sat navs, this green county in the West Midlands has more than meets the eye. Continue reading to find out more:
Children are just as welcome to join in with this unusual activity; those under 12 years old will need to accompany an adult. This is a great group activity, and can either be treated as a day attraction or choose to stay overnight at Old King Street Farm – where the llamas live – in one of two cottages (larger groups can hire both cottages).
A visit here means you’re helping support local business and produce; their apple juice comes from nearby Gwatkin Cider, botanicals from Abergavenny and mineral water from a spring in the Black Mountains.
You’ll learn about some of these hunters and predators by observing their unique techniques as well as experts on hand to give you all the information you need to know. Watch them soar through the countryside; you can book onto a one-hour bird of prey, owl or hawk experience, or a two-hour mixed-bird experience. You can also book onto flying displays, photography experiences and educational visits.
The team here are dedicated to preserving this ancient craft – but it’s not your standard, guided tour-style visit. You’ll have the opportunity to get hands-on and become a blacksmith for the day. You’ll hold the tongs as you watch the red hot metal form on the anvil, and even get to wield the hammer. Among the iron items you can forge are knives, barbecue tools, hammers and sausage sizzlers – or you can simply have fun with it and see what happens!
If you really fancy going the full length, you can make swords and pattern-welded knives and rings. In fact, there’s a great range of experiences suitable for couples, friends, families, stag and hen do parties and more – check out their website for the latest details.
Oldfield Forge Experience Source: visitherefordshire.co.uk
You can find Choccotastic at the top of the alleyway in the Homend Mews, between Sweet Memories Sweet Shop and Juice Boutique, giving it an unusual way to find it. While you can buy their sweet treats to take away, if you have time then it’s well worth sitting out in their pretty tearoom, where you can treat yourself to a spectacular Cookie Ice Cream Sandwich, a Cro-Cream (a croissant filled with ice cream, coulis and fresh fruit) or a signature waffle stick. The brave of heart can also take the Chocoholic Challenge!
If you’re after more of an intensive course, then visit Hereford’s CUP Ceramics Community, whose 2.5hr introduction to ceramics will see you throwing on the wheel, hand-building and experimenting with surface decoration. You’ll have plenty of time to practice and the courses are overseen by experienced tutors. Not sure if you can handle the class? No worries. Relax at their coffeehouse with a pastry before browsing the studio members’ ceramic creations on display.
It’s not all about pottery; among Herefordshire’s other crafty concoctions that you can get involved with include the likes of Japanese woodblock printmaking, bakeries and more unexpected activities.
One of the more unusual things to do at the cathedral, though, is its Mappa Mundi & Chained Library Exhibition. It’s revered all over the world because it’s home to the Hereford Mappa Mundi, which is the largest medieval world map in existence. It’s believed to have been made in 1300 and proves a fascinating insight into how Christian Europe saw the world in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. It was created on a sheet of calf skin (called vellum) and measures 1.59 x 1.34 metres.
Meanwhile, the Chained Library holds 1500 rare books, such as medieval manuscripts, which are read by scholars all around the world who come to visit. Although they may not be on display when you come to visit, simply knowing that you’re visiting the largest surviving chained library in the world makes for a unique, memorable experience regardless.
With its rural setting, the site is also of historical interest – the barn itself is 450 years old and is a Grade II-listed building. Whether you want to stop off for Sunday lunch, a weekday meal or an afternoon tipple, The Cider Barn focuses on the simple things in life steeped in beautiful surroundings. It’s ideal for those looking for peace and quiet away from the busier town centres.
To really make the most of your visit here, there are numerous accommodation types in the nearby area. Choose from B&Bs, self-catering and caravan parks – think glampsites and cosy cottages – and embrace a calming detox for a day or night.
What was discovered was an Elizabethan-era painting in a style that was very popular of the period. Dating to the 1560s, this is one of the best surviving examples of its kind. The aristocracy usually had leather wall hangings and tapestries in their homes, and so the merchant gentry wanted to recreate them as paintings on a much more affordable scale for their own homes. But it’s just as unique and fascinating a sight as any!
Entry to this intriguing site is free, but donations are welcomed. Guides will tell you all you need to know and questions are encouraged.
The site is made up of six converted railway carriages – called country shepherds huts – and two luxury log pods, all of which make for ideal places to stay for couples, groups of friends and families. The country shepherd’s huts have ultimate glamping vibes; think en-suite shower rooms, kitchenettes and electric hot tubs.
Otherwise the log pods are an unexpectedly luxurious experience; there are electric hot tub, outside barbecue space and on-site parking available, with a shared toilet/shower facility.
If you can bear to tear yourself away from this quirky little campsite, head out on a hike through the Black Mountains or walk a section of the Offa’s Dyke Path for an invigorating experience with unbeatable views.
Head out on the new driving and cycling route called the Watkins Way. It's named after Arthur Watkins, a local man who discovered ley lines in 1921 – where straight lines of sight criss-crossed the landscape, connecting ancient and spiritual sites. He believed they helped our ancestors to navigate, acting as a Neolithic sat nav.
The unusual route gives you the chance to ‘uncover’ lost castles, sacred stones and early hillforts, as well as finding out more about Warkin’s life, legacy and Neolithic sat nav.
The route takes you through principal ley line locations, such as Weobley Castle, Dinedor Hill and Arthur’s Stone, all of which have their own fascinating histories behind them. Make your way from the Golden Valley, through the famed black and white villages and beyond, to make the most of this ancient ‘sat nav’ tour.
Individuals, groups and families of all ages (4 years+) and sizes (maximum 13.5 stone) can book a lesson with Tipton Hall Riding School, where you’ll head off the beaten track to discover your own Herefordshire experience. If you’d rather stay local, there are also a set of jumps at their outdoor and indoor arenas, too. After a morning hack, you can reward yourself with a pub lunch in the nearby area, before continuing the rest of your day checking out the top sights to see in Bromyard.
The riding school offers free parking and you can also bring a picnic along, so you can really revel in the countryside surroundings!
It’s not all about racing, though; this venue is also where the Hereford Food Festival takes place, where you can enjoy street food, the farmers’ market, live music and the gift hall. There’s also a ‘kids village’ so no-one will be bored!
No matter your budget, group size or age, there’s more than enough unusual things to do in Herefordshire that will make for a memorable experience. If you’re looking to really make the most of this theme, make sure you read our article on the most unusual places to stay in Herefordshire – where you can stay at a llama farm or vintage train station, as well as plenty more.
Hereford Racecourse Source: visitherefordshire.co.uk
This article was written in partnership with Visit Herefordshire.