The city of Hereford is set amid some of the most stunning countryside in the UK. Situated between the Black Mountains and the Malvern Hills with the River Wye meandering through the city, Hereford has many wonderful walks to enjoy.
While the city centre reflects Hereford’s status as an important agricultural centre for the county, it’s also a good shopping area with everything from big high street names to the many smaller and interesting independent shops and boutiques.
The Pilgrim Hotel where I recently enjoyed a two-night break is located in the quiet village of Much Birch between Hereford and Ross on Wye. A really rural location yet only eight miles from the M50 motorway, so it was easy to get to by car. The hotel itself stands in four acres of rich parkland with wonderful views across the rolling countryside and is a super base to explore the local area, do a spot of walking or just generally relax and unwind.
There are 20 spacious en-suite bedrooms – from executive rooms with king-size beds, romantic four-poster rooms, family rooms, a room with wheelchair access and wet room, to dog friendly rooms. I had a well-appointed second floor Valley View room and waking up in the morning was something else – breathtaking views across to the Black Mountains and the Brecon Beacons National Park.
The hotel is an ideal base for walkers with plenty of routes in the vicinity. The famous Wye Valley Walk is a short distance away and the Herefordshire trail passes within a few feet of the hotel. Details of the walks can be picked up at reception and the staff are on hand to give advice for days out. Although just a few miles from Hereford, the hotel is also within easy reach of Ross Labels Shopping Outlet, Tintern Abbey, the Forest of Dean, picturesque Ross on Wye, Brecon Beacons, Malverns, Symonds Yat and the Cotswolds.
I had a chat with former Gloucester and British Lions rugby player Steve Boyle who owns this lovely hotel which has been awarded the Tripadvisor ‘Award for Excellence’ for the second year running in 2013. Steve showed me and my wife around the hotel, shared some of his local knowledge of the area and introduced a number of his team members who help make this such a friendly, welcoming retreat.
The Pilgrim specialises in quality Murder Mystery Dinners which are very popular. A small team of professional actors lead guests through the details of a grizzly murder and then circulate providing clues and answering questions. The winning table gets a bottle of sparkling wine but, of course, it’s not the winning that counts. If you’re planing a short break here then you could combine a Murder Mystery Dinner. A list of the dates are published on the hotel website.
There’s an excellent dining menu at reasonable prices and guests can choose to eat in the romantic candle-lit Valley Restaurant or the Conservatory. Dining is also available on the Terrace during the summer months. Alternatively you can eat in the comfortable Bar Area choosing from the Bar Meals menu. Deepak Kumar is the chef in charge assisted by Brent Castle.
Deepak is classically trained and a member of the British Culinary Federation and Brent has won a number of prestigious awards in recent years. The team aim to use locally sourced produce as much as possible and the a la carte option offers individually created dishes with an additional choice of daily and weekly specials. Cookery classes are again on offer for 2014 which are hosted by Deepak and Brent in the hotel kitchen between 2.30pm and 5pm on selected dates which can be seen on the website. I ate in the Valley Restaurant on both nights and can vouch for the excellent food and service!
Herefordshire is a wonderful area and I had a lovely time at this country house hotel. It’s ideal for a walking holiday and/or a relaxing short break away. All the staff I came across were professional and helpful, nothing was too much trouble and there’s a great friendly atmosphere.
The Pilgrim Hotel is located at: Much Birch, Hereford, HR2 8HJ. Telephone: 01981 540742. See the website for more information and offers: www.pilgrimhotel.co.uk
See a video David has produced at: www.YourHolidayTV.com
During the winter months Steve Boyle, the owner of the Pilgrim Hotel offers guests tailor-made winter walking breaks. The breaks cost from £129pp (two sharing) which includes two nights B&B, welcome drink and bar meal on the first evening, a picnic lunch and a three course dinner on the second day and a snack and a drink for the walk on day three.
The Pilgrim Country House Hotel also regularly stages Murder Mystery evenings the next of which take place on January 25, February 22 and March 29.