Friday, 14 August 2015

Gloucestershire

Enjoy a taste of England on a tour around Gloucestershire

Written by Wendy Gomersall
Busy city breaks are great when you want to indulge in some serious shopping or see a show, but sometimes it’s nice to escape to the quieter and more relaxed areas of Britain. Gloucestershire, for example, has a wealth of gentle and unique attractions to enjoy during a long weekend.

The county is home to one of England’s largest vineyards at 75 acres. Three Choirs is also reputedly one of the oldest – the first vintage was produced in 1976. The name comes from its location – roughly equidistant between Gloucester, Hereford and Worcester, venues for an annual music festival.

The estate has 11 rooms in a block and three lodges positioned among the vines. You can book packages that include a tour, tasting, dinner, or all three.

Visitors who do not wish to stay can still enjoy an hourlong Winery Tour & Wine Tasting, costing £12.50 per person, featuring four wines, or take lunch or dinner – but do book in advance. There’s also a shop where you can buy whites, reds, roses and fizz – Classic Cuvee Non Vintage Brut is delicious. Once you’ve sampled all the vineyard has to off er, there’s other sightseeing right there on the doorstep.

Nearby Newent is a charming market town, with some nice knick-knack shops, old-fashioned pubs and cafes. Trioscape Garden Centre in nearby Highleadon also serves reasonably priced meals and homemade cake.

The International Bird of Prey Centre (closed in December and January), just outside Newent, features amazing birds from all over the world. Time your visit to coincide with a flying display.

Newent is also home to some unusual festivals: the Joe Meek Celebration in October celebrates the songwriter and producer best known for Telstar who lived in the town. In September, the Onion Fayre offers prizes for the fastest man and woman to eat a raw onion – who knows why!

The city of Gloucester is around seven miles away, and its splendid cathedral is well worth a visit, or head for Kingsholm Stadium for a bit of rugby – the venue will be hosting matches during the Rugby World Cup.

A good way to see the lovely English landscape is by water. English Holiday Cruises off ers from between two- to five-night cruises throughout the Cotswolds Severn Vale from April until October, some of which depart from Gloucester’s historic docks and are aboard the four-star Edward Elgar, the largest hotel boat on the UK’s inland waterways. The boat has 11 cosy cabins with all the plush touches you need, including a snug bar and restaurant serving good food.

It’s utter bliss to relax on the top deck and doze in the sunshine, keeping one eye open for kingfishers and water voles, perhaps even otters if you’re lucky.

Rooms at Three Choirs Vineyard cost from £140 per night; lodges from £170 per night: 01531-890 223, www.threechoirs.com and a two-night break with English Holiday Cruises costs from £220 per person, including meals, wine with dinner and tours: 01452-410 411, www.englishholidaycruises.co.uk

For information about the Canal & River Trust, the charity entrusted with the care of 2,000 miles of waterways in England and Wales including the Gloucester & Sharpness canal, visit www.canalrivertrust.org.uk

Contact Wendy at wendy.gomersall@lady.co.uk
Prices are correct at the time of going to press.


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