Wales is one of the most popular regions of the UK for tourists, paved with 400 castles and the stuff of legends. A great place to stay on the way there is a boutique hotel, two minutes walk from the historic Hereford Cathedral.
Castle House is a townhouse hotel. The Castle Restaurant, among the finest restaurants in Herefordshire, and Castle Bistro are under the rule of one of England’s premier female chefs, Claire Nicholls, who sources her ingredients from local farmers and artisan producers from the Herefordshire Marches, including Castle House’s Ballingham Farm.
Hereford, the capital of Herefordshire, is 26km east of the border with Wales, and with a population of 55,700 people, it is the largest settlement in the county. Hereford Cathedral dates back to 1079, and contains the Mappa Mundi, a medieval map of the world drawn in the 13th century which was restored in the late 20th century.
Hereford is otherwise famous for its produce, including Hereford cattle, leather goods, cider and beer. The city is also the location of the longest-inhabited building in Britain – the Bishop’s Palace built in 1204.
The Three Choirs festival is held every three years in Hereford and is one of the oldest music festivals in Europe, originating in the 18th century.
Only 30 minutes south is Skenrith Castle, where a legend says the devil can be seen dancing with a miaden during certain phases of the moon. The castle was built soon after the Norman Conquest of 1066, but all that remains now is the towers from the 13th century. One of the walks in the area goes up through old Benedictine Monk territory where lots of people have said they’ve seen ghostly men in black habits.
Castle House, Castle Street, Hereford: tel +44 (0) 1432 356 321
Skenrith Castle, reached on the B4521, is free to visit. Three of the four corner towers still stand.
More info on Welsh castles to visit: www.castlewales.com