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Nestled between the Wye Valley and the border of Wales lies Herefordshire’s idyllic Golden Valley. Edged by the dramatic slopes of the Golden Valley this enchanting rural landscape provides a haven of peace and tranquillity for all who visit this emerald wilderness.
As it winds its way through the sheltered mountain sides and past the banks of the River Dore, The Golden Valley leads towards a cluster of time-forgotten villages, unspoilt countryside and a wealth of fabulous country pubs, restaurants, shops and a beautiful collection of chocolate box cottages.
Steeped in beauty and history, The Golden Valley makes a wonderful holiday destination during every season, due to the abundance of fantastic things to see, do and explore in the area.
Just a short drive away from the famous market town of Hay-on-Wye, endearingly known as the ‘town of books’ and within close proximity of many other equally stunning towns and villages, The Golden Valley provides a superb base to explore the wider area.
Here are eight of our favourite things to do in the Golden Valley.
1. Learn the myths and legends of Arthur’s Stone
Arthur's Stone is the oldest man-made structure in Herefordshire and offers an intriguing glimpse into Wales’ rich past. Sitting prominently above The Golden Valley itself is a Neolithic burial chamber with direct links to King Arthur. According to legend, it was here that Arthur slew a giant who left the impression of his elbows on one of the stones as he fell.
The nine stones are estimated to weigh more than 25 tonnes and offer a fascinating glimpse of Neolithic history which will spark your imagination and curiosity. And if this ancient monument has left you wanting more, head to nearby Dore Abbey, a gorgeous church created from a historic Cistercian Monastery.
2. Explore picturesque walking trails
The beauty of this idyllic location is the possibility for combining sight-seeing and cultural discoveries with fantastic opportunities for adventure and activity! The gently rolling countryside is a haven for walkers - around every corner a mosaic of inviting patchwork fields will come into sight. Whether you are looking for a mild amble through the shaded woodlands, picnic in tow, or you are seeking more of a challenging hike through the unsteady and wild landscapes, you will discover a trail just perfect for you.
The Herefordshire Ramblers are the experts on the Golden Valley’s best walks, ranging from 1 mile to almost 7 and suitable for all abilities. Take a look here.
3. Explore the Herefordshire & Wye Valley Cider Route
Walking is thirsty work I hear you say! Well no need to fret, as Herefordshire boasts its very own Cider Route. Showcasing one of the very best local produces the region has to offer – cider – this 20-mile track will transport you along peaceful winding lanes through one of the UK’s finest cider-growing areas.
Whether you choose to walk or cycle, this delightfully unique route allows you to see, hear and smell the glorious countryside with a whistle-stop tour. You will soon discover the strength of Herefordshire’s proud cider heritage, with an abundance of pubs and restaurants serving it up along the way in a rich variety of colours, flavours and strengths.
4. Get your adrenaline pumping
For the thrill-seekers out there, The Golden Valley’s exciting landscapes will not disappoint. The striking rock faces and nearby River Wye rapids provide ample opportunity to get outdoors and try something new! The Golden Valley is home to many outdoor education and activity centres who can arrange adventures in the fresh Herefordshire air that are certain to get your blood pumping!
You can navigate fast-flowing white water by canoe or kayak, climb the hills of the nearby Black Mountains, take to two wheels to explore mountain trails by bike or hone your navigation skills in the great outdoors. And you can be sure that all the fresh air will work up an appetite, which leads us nicely to our next point…
5. Tuck into delicious food and drink
Photo credit: Instagram @thebridgeinnmichaelchurch
Next stop is to explore the taste of The Golden Valley. There are a number of great places for dining out, with most sourcing fresh, seasonal ingredients locally. Whether dining in traditional cosy pubs or luxurious restaurants, foodies enthuse about the quality of the produce which can be found in the region.
To indulge in some fine country fare, make The Temple Bar Inn your first port of call. Nestled in the heart of the charming village Ewyas Harold, just a stone’s throw from the Black Mountains, there is no better place to enjoy a pint of real ale and a mouth-watering meal from its tantalising menu. Or visit the Bridge Inn, Michaelchurch Escley, to sample its own Hill Billy gin made in its tiny distillery (and its food is very tasty too)! And make sure you keep your eyes peeled for Rowlestone Farmhouse’s deliciously luxurious ice cream – it’s sold throughout the Golden Valley but you can see how its made down on the farm where light lunches and teas and coffees can also be enjoyed in the ice cream parlour.
6. Walk with llamas
Photo credit: Golden Valley Llamas
The Golden Valley is not only blessed with breathtaking countryside; it is also a prime location for family-friendly holidays due to the fabulous selection of attractions orientated perfectly at those with little legs. For an utterly unique experience, a day out at Golden Valley Llamas is a must.
Little ones will love the responsibility of catching, haltering, grooming and walking their very own llama through wide open fields and farmland, or further into the glorious Herefordshire countryside. It’s a brilliant way of exploring the Golden Valley’s stunning countryside in a completely unforgettable way – and it’s not just for children; some say walking with llamas is more relaxing than a spa day!
7. Visit Kentchurch Court
Photo credit: Instagram @goodwood_curator
Kentchurch Court is considered to be one of the most important historic houses in the UK. This intriguing house dates back to the 14th century and makes for a fascinating visit. By appointment only, explore this stately home and discover the stories of its most historic rooms before tucking into a delicious cream tea.
The gardens are open to explore without booking and will delight you with a stunning rhododendron wood dotted with snowdrops, wild daffodils and bluebells when in season, as well as walled gardens boasting the most beautiful spectrum of colours, vegetable patches, ancient trees, and parkland home to 250 fallow deer. Dogs are welcome too, if kept on leads.
8. Celebrate a local event
Photo credit: Instagram @howthelightgetsinfestival
Be sure to also check The Golden Valley’s events calendar as there are festivals and celebrations to excite every passion and awaken every sense. You can find everything going on in the Golden Valley and surrounding Herefordshire at Eat Sleep Live Herefordshire.
The Golden Valley is also a fantastic destination for enjoying some of the more famous festivals in the nearby region, including the Hay Festival, HowTheLightGetsIn and Bromyard Folk Festival.
Stay with us in the Golden Valley
After all that exploring, why not take a step back and head into the hills with a flask of tea and a blanket, sit among the flowers, listen to the birds chirping high in the treetops and get lost in a good book.
Whether you choose to stay in a bohemian yurt, a secluded cottage or a quirky shepherd hut, our collection of properties in the Golden Valley can assure you a world away holiday in Wales.
If you are looking for something a little bit different whilst still exuding luxury, Top of Lane Cottage will be sure to delight you. This 16th century stone cottage is an idyllic slice of country life sitting within 580 acres of National Trust land, providing endless walks and trails straight from the doorstep. Snuggle up next to the open fire while you enjoy the rustic interior and admire the stunning views over the Brecon Beacons.
Or for a larger group, why not celebrate together at The Hay House Retreat, which sleeps 18 and is just moments from Arthur’s Stone? With a charming country interior peppered with bright wallpaper and design features inspired by nature, it has a relaxed atmosphere perfect for bringing everyone together. Boasting a wood-fired hot tub, a games room, a children’s play area, and a BBQ and firepit, it has everything you need to satisfy every generation on an unforgettable getaway to the Golden Valley.
For more destination inspiration, discover the rest of Wales with our guides to Snowdonia, the Brecon Beacons and the Wye Valley, or learn more about the nearby market town of Hay-on-Wye. Or click the button below to browse our full range of extra-special cottages.