A pretty black-and-white village is the focus for this pleasant amble.
Distance 5 miles (8km)
Minimum time 2hrs 15min
Ascent/gradient 164ft (50m)
Level of difficulty Easy
Paths Minor lanes, meadow paths, village streets, 19 stiles
Landscape Gentle farmland and orchards, village
Suggested map aqua3 OS Explorer 202 Leominster & Bromyard
Start/finish SO 401517
Dog friendliness Leads needed on lanes and preferred in fields
Parking Village car park (signposted)
Public toilets Beside museum in Weobley, on B4230
1 Begin by perusing the map in the car park as you may find it useful for exploring the village later. Also, you can speculate on the function of the quirky little building to your left, within the car park. Not only does it have a brick base but, above the doorway, the 'white' cladding is over more brickwork. Opposite the car park entrance is an exemplary medieval black-and-white property, but instead of diving into the village turn left, then left again, towards the Church of St Peter and St Paul. It has a Norman south doorway, parts of the chancel are 13th-century, and the tall tower is from the 14th century.
2 Walk round two sides of the church lane, then go straight ahead on a dirt track. Keep on this track at a cluster of gates. At a single gate take a stile to cut through a traditional orchard, then walk down the left side of a huge field, later guided by power poles. Turn right to walk, fenced in, beside a lane. At the T-junction go right, on a tarmac lane beside a Bulmers' orchard planted in 2000. In the hedgerow, at regular intervals, 'standards' have been planted. The unseemly bits of plastic bag tied to these trees are to ensure that the hedge-cutter does not chop their heads off!
3 After 275yds (251m) take a stile into this orchard. In perhaps 60yds (55m) is a massive oak - walk just 20yds (18m) beyond this, to a waymarker on a chest-high pole. This points you diagonally left, through the orchard, then two fields bring you to a minor road. Turn right for nearly ¾ mile (1.2km), through the hamlet called Weobley Marsh, where you may see horses grazing on the common. Pass a red telephone box then, 50yds (46m) after Link Cottage, take the stile, left. Over the next stile turn right, not ahead, then cross a two-plank footbridge to walk beside Stone House. Follow its driveway to a T-junction. Turn left for 100yds (91m). Turn right (or continue for barely 200yds/183m for the Marshpools Inn). Follow the left field boundary to another minor road. Turn right, then left at the T-junction. At the 'Give way' turn left, but in just 30yds (27m) turn right, through a strip of woodland, into Garnstone Park; very little remains of Garnstone Court. Now go 650yds (594m) along this gravel track to a gate and stile. Here take the right diagonal yellow marker (not ahead), aiming for the flakily whitewashed far end of a long, high brick wall. Turn right here on another dirt track, keeping ahead when it bends right.
4 At the next gate don't go through but turn left - now, along a green motorway, make a beeline for Weobley, guided by its church spire, the second tallest in the county. At a kissing gate go straight through, over the ring and bailey. Another gate and you are at the top of the main street.
5 To return to the car park, go straight down the main street, then turn left at The Old Corner House.
After a heavy snowfall Weobley is at its blackest-and-whitest, taking on an almost surreal, monochrome guise. In the spring it's inspiring, in the summer it's beautiful, and in the autumn it's simply exquisite. And I've never been to Weobley in the rain.
The village's name probably derives from 'Wibba's Ley', a ley being a woodland glade and the land belonging to a man with that Saxon name. It is known that glove-making and brewing were among the 7th-century activities in the village. By the time of Domesday it was known as Wibelai, later evolving to Weobley. The village claims an association with the famous Hereford cattle. James Tompkyns (or Tomkins) had 33 children, begot by (only) two women. Two of these children were early cattle enthusiasts - they obviously knew how to breed - but in truth the Herefords that we know today were not bred in a controlled way until well into the 18th century. In spite of this connection with cattle, conspicuous in its absence from Weobley today is any visible market place. The isosceles triangle at the top of the village, now occupied by a rose garden and bus shelter, marks the spot. The market hall was demolished in the mid-19th century, whereas a fire - probably started in a basement bakery - destroyed the adjoining row of 15th- to 17th-century houses in November 1943.
Weobley's museum is open Monday to Thursday only, and bank holidays (phone in advance). Just off route, before the Marshpools Inn, is the Lance Hattatt Design Garden. A few miles north, towards Pembridge, is Dunkertons Cider Mill (closed Sunday), and a restaurant in two 16th-century barns.
In the village, find the grandly named The Throne, a large box of 400-year-old architecture - Charles I spent the night of 5 September 1645 there, after the Battle of Naseby. Diagonally opposite is the former grammar school, of roughly the same era, before schools were built to look like schools; it had 25 pupils in 1717.
On the route is the Marshpools Inn (closed on Tuesday) at Ledgemoor. In Weobley is the Salutation Inn, Unicorn Inn or Red Lion. There are several cafés, and behind the Unicorn Inn is Ye Olde Unicorn Fish'n'Chip Shop and Café.