IN 1811, Thomas Andrew Knight produced an illustrated book describing 30 varieties of apple and pear. It was called Pomona Herefordiensis and some say it was the first of its kind in the world.
Two hundred years later, Knight’s book is just one feature of Herefordshire’s apple-related history being celebrated as part of Year in the Orchard 2011.
A variety of events and projects has included the planting of new orchards, the restoration of old ones and the launch of Herefordshire Orchards Network of Excellence (HONE), which aims to generate fresh ideas and techniques and perhaps reinstate some traditional management practices, too.
HONE is a two-year project hosted by the Bulmer Foundation – the cider-making giant based in Hereford. It is part-funded by the European Union and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs with match-funding from Heineken.
It is linked to the Herefordshire Orchards Community Evaluation project and provides the ‘other side’ of the orchard story with a greater focus on commerce and sustainability.
Climate change, the environment and the price of oil all have a direct influence on Herefordshire orchards.
HONE wants to increase the production of apples but is keen to do so in a way that is environmentally sustainable.
With demand for cider on the increase and environmental awareness growing, the future is looking brighter for apple growers and perhaps for parts of the Herefordshire landscape, too.
This attractive walk will take walkers to the valleys of the rivers Frome and Leadon. It features orchards throughout but especially around Evesbatch, a remote hamlet with a handful of houses and a charming little church.
There are sheep and dairy pastures too, with Highland cattle at Noverings Farm and Hereford cattle (currently with young calves) at Catley Cross.
Start: Bosbury, a village on the B4220 north of Ledbury; grid ref SO695434.
Length: 10 miles/16km.
Maps: OS Explorer 202, OS Landranger 149.
Terrain: Woodland, orchard, pasture and arable; moderately hilly.
Footpaths: Mostly excellent, except that waymarking is poor in places and a few paths, especially around Fromes Hill, are poorly maintained.
Buses: Aston’s 417 Worcester to Ledbury via Bosbury, Mon-Sat; worcestershire.gov.uk/bustimetables or 01905 765765.
1 Walk along a lane east of the churchyard, opposite the Bell Inn. Take the first footpath on the right and follow it to another lane.
Turn left then take the first path on the right, just before a postbox.
Walk to Noverings Farm and turn left where waymarked. Go straight on at a junction, along a green lane which soon begins to climb up Beacon Hill. Fork right where waymarked, then fork right at an unsigned junction. Ignore two stiles on the right. The path then keeps close to the woodland edge for a while before moving away from it, climbing to meet a wide forestry track running along the top of the ridge.
2 Turn right and follow the track almost to the far end of the wood. As the wood narrows look for a gate on the left and go through into pasture. Turn left to follow the woodland edge until a gate allows you to re-enter the wood. Walk straight through then descend through pasture to meet a track, signed ‘public road’. Turn right and follow it through the Leadon valley to meet the A4103.
Turn left, then turn right to follow a lane to Evesbatch. Pass St Andrew’s Church, Evesbatch Court and Long Barns then turn left on a lane which becomes a footpath after passing the Old Rectory. Descend to a junction and keep straight on along the righthand edge of a large arable field.
Cross a stile in the top corner then fork right through woodland, descending all the while, quite steeply at times, to meet a lane at Halmond’s Frome.
3 The path continues opposite, through a large field to another lane. Again, the path continues opposite, and is easily followed through fields, eventually crossing the river Frome at a footbridge.
There is a junction here and the onward route is to the left, by the river. However, if you want to visit Bishops Frome go straight on instead, then return to the river.
Follow the path (Herefordshire Trail) beside the river to meet a lane. Turn left, then turn right at a junction. Take a footpath on the left at a sign reading Cheyney Park and Chapel. The footpath is very easily followed for the most part but when it enters a wood do make sure that you use the stile in the corner and not the one you will see to the left of it.
4 Nearing the top of Fromes Hill, ignore a bridleway and continue forward on the footpath, along the left-hand field edge, before cutting across the corner to a stile at the other side. Go diagonally left (you’ll have to step over a single-strand barbed-wire fence obstructing the path) to a stile to the left of a timber garage then proceed to the A4103. Cross over and turn right, shortly picking up the path again. Cross a large arable field, keeping well to the left of four oak trees to find a concealed stile at the far side. Keep straight on for the next half-mile but take careful note of the waymarks as it’s possible to go wrong here (not that it matters too much as there are several waymarked permissive paths allowing extra access).
5 Approaching a farm, turn left, still on the Herefordshire Trail.
After crossing a brook, go straight uphill for 100m before following the path to the right. Turn right again near Gospel Yew Cottage.
When you meet a lane that is opposite Fox Hill House, turn left and you will find another footpath that is just a few paces away on the right. Follow it to a lane and continue opposite, walking along the drive that leads to Shinns Croft. Turn left by a cattle grid and cross a stile on the right before you reach a house. Go downhill to cross the river Leadon and turn right to follow the river to a lane.
Turn right, then take the next path on the left. Go straight on at a junction, then to the far left corner of a cattle pasture. Continue through an orchard to reach Bosbury.
Worcester News recommends the use of OS Explorer Maps, your ideal passport to navigating the countryside. This walk is based on OS Explorer 202.