Heidi Chamberlain-Jones loves Herefordshire so much that she’s developed a
tourism business that’s devoted to telling everyone about everything the place has to offer!
Sharon Chilcott meets her to find out more…
So, Heidi, you are clearly passionate about your county.
Have you lived here all your life?
I came to Fownhope when I was six so I have lived here 45 years. My family moved to Fownhope from Cowbridge and my Dad had an electrical shop in Ross – Wye Electrical Services. Now I’m based in Bartestree, where my husband Matt and I have been for 20 years.
What makes Herefordshire so special to you?
Fownhope was a wonderful place to grow up – it felt so free and safe and had a strong sense of community. It’s a really pretty village, not dissimilar from Cowbridge, so, for a little girl, that made the move an easy transition. I have happy memories of my childhood – we’d spend a lot of time in places like Symonds Yat. We had a substantial, blow-up canoe and my Dad would take me up and down the river in it. We were also always going out on picnics to places like Hole-in-the Wall and the Forest of Dean. Fownhope is really close to the River Wye, so I would walk along the river bank with our dog for miles. The village children used to get involved in the traditional Heart of Oak Club Walk. We’d each decorate our sticks with flowers and everyone would gather together and then we would walk from The Green Man Inn to The Moon at Mordiford, for example, and we’d stop off at various dignitaries’ houses for refreshments along the way and there would be Morris Dancers as well – it was great fun and the walk takes places to this day.
What three words best describe Herefordshire?
Picturesque – and I don’t just mean that to describe the scenery and the towns and villages, but also to reflect the fact that the Wye was much favoured by the Eighteenth Century Picturesque movement.
Active – there are lots of outdoor activities to get involved with from hiking to canoeing, rock climbing to mountain biking.
Artisan – because of the amazing creativity that can be found here from incredible makers of arts and crafts to award-winning food and drink producers.
What, if anything, would you change about the county, assuming you could!?
I’d improve the transport infrastructure and the bus services – although in Bartestree we are famed for having one of the best bus services in the county so I am relatively lucky. I’d also improve the parking in Hereford.
Describe the vibe in your favourite local pub.
The Barrels in Hereford has a great vibe – to say it is friendly would be an understatement! You can walk in there on your own and there will always be someone who will talk to you. It’s an all-embracing, anything goes type of place.
Where do you tend to go for an evening’s entertainment?
Where would you go for a meal out?
I am literally spoilt for choice. Herefordshire has a great range of places to enjoy local, seasonal produce from indie city eateries to prizewinning pubs, lovely tearooms and cafes to rural restaurants.
Where would you go locally to “blow the cobwebs away”?
What leisure pursuits do you enjoy?
I like doing anything that’s arty or crafty really – like going on a bread-making course at Peter Cooks Bread or making pottery at Eastnor Pottery. There’s such a wealth of artisans around the county to inspire my creativity. I am also lucky that my work enables me to experience many of the leisure activities the county has to offer. I’ve just had a fabulous day in the Golden Valley where I went laser shooting in the morning at Laser Clayz, Ewyas Harold; then I went tasting ice cream at Rowlestone Court Farm and I spent the afternoon llama trekking with Golden Valley Llamas.
If you were going to splash out on a smart new outfit, where would shop for it?
I’d head for Church Street in Hereford.
Where would you shop for a dinner party?
Oakchurch Farm Shop – they have meat and a great range of vegetables there and everything I would need.
Where do you shop for day-to-day groceries?
I generally shop wherever I happen to be in the county on business – so if I am in Bromyard I make sure to call in at Legges and I often stop at The Nest for bread and other provisions on my way back and forth on the A438. You can’t get meat there, so for that I go to Neil Powell in Hereford.
What’s the social life like in Bartestree – what’s the most fun you have had at a local event?
We tend to make our own social life, like going to and hosting dinner parties. But we always enjoy the annual Bartestree Beer and Cider Festival – it’s handy that we can walk there from our house!
Tell me about your last ‘great day out’ in the area…
That would be a visit to Kentchurch Court with a group of Japanese visitors. The deer from the deer park came right up close to the gardens where we were – it was amazing.
How would you advise someone new into the area to get to know the locals?
Go to your local pub, get a dog – dog walkers often stop for a chat – or join a volunteer group.
In what ways are you involved in your local community?
I am a Vice President for the British Red Cross in Herefordshire, Shropshire and Worcestershire and, of course, I run Eat Sleep Live Herefordshire, the independent tourism company that promotes and celebrates the county. I am really excited that we have just heard we are Midlands regional finalists in the Countryside Alliance awards for Best Rural Enterprise!
If adult friends were staying with you for a week, where would you take them to visit?
I’d take them to Hereford Cathedral, because it is so significant to the city, the community, the county and the world! I would organise them a guided walk around Hereford city with a member of the local Guild of Guides – that’s fascinating, you really must do it! Hampton Court Castle and Eastnor Castle are musts too.
What if the friends had children with them?
Hereford Waterworks Museum – when it is in steam it is quite spectacular. There’s also a really great educational and interactive heritage water park there. I’d also definitely take them llama trekking and we’d have a nice easy walk down by the River Wye in Hereford’s King George V Playing Fields, where there’s a play area and a labyrinth. I might also take them to Oakerwood, where there are acres of outdoor activities.
What’s the most exciting initiative that’s about to happen in the area?
Personally, I am really excited that this spring ESL Herefordshire will be launching the West Midlands Pass, a destination pass which will enable families to get out and about in the area and to enjoy discounts on attractions, activities, restaurants and accommodation. There will soon be a website with more details at westmidlandspass.com.
Tell me one fascinating fact about Herefordshire that you don’t think is generally widely known.
I’m fascinated by the local tales of mythical creatures – the Dragon of Mordiford; the black dog of Hergest Court; there’s even a Beast of Bartestree – periodic sightings of a large black panther-like creature that roams the woods and farmland of the village to this day.
Facts and Figures
For more information about this beautiful county visit:
Photos by Eat Sleep Live Herefordshire
& Gabriella Karney Photography
Eastnor Castle courtesy of Eastnor Castle.
Eastnor Pottery courtesy of Eastnor Pottery.