Jesse’s Hereford Times column: Celebrating cycling

Being an avid cyclist, I am delighted to celebrate Cycling UK’s 140th anniversary this month. Founded as the Bicycle Touring Club on August 5th 1878, it has grown into a national charity and campaigning organisation. 

As Transport .Minister I have worked very closely with Cycling UK on cycle safety, training, investment and a host of other issues, including most recently e-cargo bikes.

To celebrate their 140th birthday, Cycling UK have now compiled a list of 140 fantastic routes across the UK. And with the help of my team I have submitted a route around some of the finest Herefordshire countryside. What better way to explore Herefordshire than by bike? Take a look at the route below, and give it a go!

This is a great 35 mile ride, taking in both the Wye Valley and the Golden Valley through glorious Herefordshire countryside and villages.  Bordered to the South by the foothills of the Black Mountains—with a few hills along the way just to test your inner Geraint Thomas!—the route is dotted with pubs, cafes, and shops where you can fill up on local produce and drinks and take a well-earned break while enjoying the fabulous scenery.

For the historians amongst you, why not take a detour to visit Snodhill Castle, first built in c 1130, with its recently-renovated motte and earthworks and stone ruins dating from the 13th and 14th centuries? 

If you are feeling a little more adventurous, you could venture up Dorstone Hill (25% incline, so not for the faint-hearted!) to visit Arthur’s Stone, a neolithic chambered tomb or dolmen dating from 3,700 BC – 2,700 BC.  Some tales suggest the tomb was built to mark the location of one of King Arthur's battles, while others say that the stones were already present when Arthur slew a giant on the spot, who fell onto the stones and left indentations in one of them, which remain to this day. 

If food and drink appeal rather than mountaineering, there are numerous pubs en route. Delicious local breads, cakes, jams and honey are available from Poston Mill shop. And cheeses and yoghurts from the famous Neals Yard Creamery in Dorstone can be bought from Peterchurch shop or the legendary Locks Garage in Allensmore, which also sells locally-sourced meats, fresh fruit and vegetables, a wide variety of Herefordshire ciders and beers and incredible ice-creams. It all makes a great day out!