Spring has definitely sprung and now’s the time to get outdoors in the fresh air and enjoy some relaxing time in nature. Today (Thurs 30 March) is officially National Take a Walk in the Park Day and is focused on helping people reconnect with nature, enhance wellbeing and take in the calming benefits of a stroll in the fresh air.
Herefordshire countryside is renowned for its huge array of stunning walks – and as well as the many local routes in and around Ross-on-Wye (check out Walking in Ross for maps and guides) – there are plenty of stunning gardens and parks in the surrounding counties.
1. Laskett Gardens
The popular Laskett Gardens in Much Birch, which recently appeared on the BBC’s RHS Chelsea, has just announced it will be opening to the public with its stunning Celebration of Tulips from 1 April, showcasing over 20,000 tulips. They will be open on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 13 April to 31 October 2023, 10.30 to 14.00. Tickets cost £12 per person which includes a beautifully illustrated plan and use of an audio guide. Pre-book your tickets here.
Laskett Gardens – Laskett Lane, Much Birch, Hereford HR2 8HZ
Many gardens and parks in Herefordshire and surrounding counties are maintained by The National Trust and the National Garden Scheme which offer a great day out. The National Trust is Europe’s largest conservation charity which looks after nature, beauty and history for everyone to enjoy. With the support from paying members, they are able to care for miles of coastline, woodlands, countryside and the hundreds of historic buildings and gardens. If you’re visiting Ross-on-Wye, you can easily access plenty of their beautiful locations, most within an hour’s drive of the town, so perfect for a day trip during your stay.
2. The Weir Garden
One of the National Trust’s closest attractions to Ross is The Weir Garden, around 20 miles north of the town. Enjoy ten acres of late 18th century riverside gardens, including Roman ruins, a boathouse (one of the few remaining original structures on the River Wye built in 1920), ancient trees and a picturesque historic walled garden. Families can enjoy an Easter wildlife trail with nature-themed games and activities daily from 1-16 April for £3 which includes a chocolate egg to collect at the end. Pack your walking boots and stroll through the huge swathes of daffodils, spring bluebells and wild flowers, daisies, cow parsley, campions, anemones and wild garlic. Further details are available on the National Trust’s website.
3. The Kymin
Just over the border in Monmouthshire, you’ll find The Kymin, a white 18th century naval temple and Round House situated on a hill overlooking Monmouth on the eastern side of the River Wye. Set in nine acres of park and woodland, enjoy a stroll taking in the views from the top of the hill over the Wye Valley. In good weather, The Kymin Trail is a fairly easy 1 km walk on solid paths and grass starting at the Round House car park (take care in winter though). Walk through ancient woodland and enjoy breath taking scenery including the Sugar Loaf Mountain, and on a clear day, Pen y Fan in the Brecon Beacons.
4. May Hill
Heading in the opposite direction towards Gloucester, another National Trust maintained beauty is May Hill, located just off the A40 near Glasshouse. Its iconic cluster of ancient pine trees has been photographed and painted hundreds of times and is well loved by dog walkers and anyone looking to blow the cobwebs away and enjoy stunning scenery, sunrises and sunsets – on a clear day you can see up to twelve other counties from the highest point, at 971 feet.
If hiking to the top of a hill in all weathers isn’t as accessible, and you prefer to take in a kitchen garden or manicured lawns with stunning borders with perhaps an afternoon tea, the National Garden Scheme may be more a little more appealing. The scheme relies on donations, ticket revenue and support from its members, to enable the organisation to give visitors unique access to over 3,500 private gardens in the UK and Channel Islands, raising much needed money for nursing and health charities.
5. Coddington Vineyard
There are several gardens within the scheme easily accessible from Ross-on-Wye including Coddington Vineyard which is just over 15 miles away north of Ledbury. Enjoy strolling through five acres of land, including two acres of vineyard, the listed farmhouse, threshing barn and cider mill. The beautiful terraced garden is flanked by a huge wildflower meadow, woodland, large wildlife pond and stream adorned throughout the year by masses of primula, hosta, hellebores, snowdrops, hamamelis, parottia, azaleas, roses and perennials. You can also book onto one of their vineyard tours and tastings – contact Sharon or Peter to book.
The Vineyard – Coddington, Ledbury HR8 1JJ
6. Home Farm
Home Farm in Newent. Stroll through the carpets of wild daffodils, violets, early purple orchids and bluebells in May. The local garden centre, Leaf Creative, has a great dog-friendly café, The Fernery, serving light lunches and home-made cakes, tea and coffee. The gardens are open for the National Garden Scheme on five Sundays during the spring and group visits are welcome by appointment by contacting 01452 830 210 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
7. Highnam Court
Also in bordering Gloucestershire, Highnam Court is the perfect example of a Victorian landscaped garden. The Grade I listed house (not open to the public) is surrounded by around 40 acres of stunning borders, a one acre rose garden, woodland, shrubberies, water gardens, lakes and grottos, designed by artist Thomas Gambier Parry. As part of the National Garden Scheme, the grounds are open to the public on Sundays on 2 April, 7 May, 4 June, 2 July, 6 August and 3 September and group visits for 25 or more on weekdays by prior arrangement. Contact Highnam Court for details.
8. High Glanau Manor
Further west of Ross, High Glanau Manor and Gardens are located about 15 miles away south of Monmouth. This residence is an important Arts & Crafts house set amongst 12 acres of landscaped gardens dating back to 1922. With its 100 ft long double herbaceous borders and billowing walls of rhododendrons and azaleas, the stone terraces lead you to far reaching views over the Vale of Usk. The gardens are open to private groups and tours from May to July and open to the public in May, as part of the National Garden Scheme.
Visit our ‘See & Do’ section on our website for more ideas to get outdoors this spring.