Spilling over the Welsh border, Herefordshire’s unspoilt countryside and languid pace of life are balm to a city-frazzled soul. Stretching from Shropshire right down to Symonds Yat, encompassing pretty market towns and the city of Hereford, it’s one of the most rural and sparsely populated areas of the UK.
Outdoorsy folk particularly love it. Spend a week kayaking down the river Wye, walking in the Malvern Hills, cycling through the Wye Valley and hiking to hidden waterfalls and you will, too. There’s also fishing, horse riding and climbing to be done - try Hay Bluff, for spectacular views stretching for miles. For a Wordsworth-worthy moment, the Daffodil Way (on the border of Gloucestershire) attracts thousands of walkers every spring.
An agricultural focus makes the area a hotspot for farmers’ markets and foodies: there’s an abundance of berry fruit, superb steaks from Hereford cattle, and so much cider production they’ve created a 20-mile ‘cycle and sample’ route you can follow out from Ledbury. Gastro pubs are everywhere.
And then there’s Hay-on-Wye; a gorgeous old town, overflowing with little bookshops, both new and second-hand. Come in late May for their annual Literary Festival; full of interesting talks by best-selling and new authors.
Finally, the architectural gems. Don't miss the historic ‘black-and-white villages’ (ancient timber-framed houses, with dramatic side tilts) or Hereford's magnificent Cathedral, dating from 1079.