Vineyards, cider houses and boozy cruises: 10 of the best drinking holidays in the UK | Travel
Hops and cider farm, Herefordshire
One of Britain’s last family hop farms, Townend, still uses donkeys – Herbie and Teddy – to plant its crop every year. The award-winning results are sold to breweries across Britain. The farm, near Ledbury in Herefordshire, has been run by the Andrews family for three generations. Surrounded by 200 acres of hop orchards and apple orchards, you can stay at their luxurious self-contained cottage, The Hop Store, which sleeps up to four people. The welcome basket includes beer and cider from the farm.
See townendhopfarm.com. Four nights from £1,295; reserve at uniquehomestays.com
Electric Bike Vineyard Tour, Sussex
The South Downs’ thriving wine scene is the focus of a tour by Cycling for Softies, which lives up to its name by offering e-bikes. Sparkling Sussex combines visits to some of the region’s best wineries, including Ridgeview and Tinwood, with stays in luxury hotels (and the company will transport your luggage between them). E-bikes allow you to easily cover the 117 miles over five days. Expect peaceful lanes through charming countryside, as well as leisurely walks along the river and coastal paths. The price includes breakfast and dinner every evening, as well as visits to the vineyard.
From £979 pp; cycling-for-softies.co.uk
Tea growing, Cornwall
The Cornish foothills are home to the UK’s only commercial tea plantation, Tregothnan, near Truro. Planted in 1999, Tregothnan now has over 150 acres devoted to revival Camellia sinensis tea tree. The estate holds masterclasses in tea growing, as well as courses in sowing, pruning and harvesting. There are also tasting workshops where you can analyze and discuss the different flavors and enjoy lunch and cream tea – with Tregothnan’s own brew. Stay in one of their rustic cottages, nestled in former plum orchards on the estate.
Masterclasses from £145tea culture £235; tregothnan.co.uk
Mead making, Wye Valley
Made since Neolithic times, mead gets a makeover in the 21st century thanks to two Wye Valley brothers and their colony of bees. Based in their bar in Caldicot, there are one-day courses, both in beekeeping and in making your own mead – and you go home with 4.5 liters of your own effort. You can buy traditional 14.5% mead or enjoy the lighter 4% bottled mead and farmhouse honey smoked beer for a less heady effect.
Classes start at £65; wyevalleymeadery.co.uk
Sober tours, Cornwall
Founded in 2019, We Love Lucid creates group travel where the bond isn’t alcohol-based. Instead, you can boogie board in Newquay, learn how to bake, enjoy local non-alcoholic gin tastings with juniper, grapefruit, blood orange and cardamom, and stay in a hotel on Fistral beach. There are similar non-alcoholic trips in Spain.
Breaks start at £500; welovelucid.com
Breaststroke in a boat, London
Oktoberfest is coming to the Thames this autumn with a unique kind of boat trip: a floating beer festival. Sommeliers will be on hand to offer drinkers a range of delicious beer styles, from lagers to porters, sours to lagers and everything in between – and to tell you about each. They will also curate a tempting menu of charcuterie and cheeses from Neal’s Yard Dairy, as well as vegan offerings.
Prices from £44; londoncraftbeercruise.co.uk
Walking Breaks, Lake District
Beer and Boot Walk Weekends live up to their simple name: a group walk focusing on great country pubs. The weekend starts on Friday evening with an ‘icebreaker’ pub night where you get to know your walking buddies and choose your walking level for the weekend. From October 21-23, the break will be based at the Strands Inn at Nether Wasdale, a Lake District pub and microbrewery. Accommodation is not included but the village has a hotel, a dormitory and a campsite.
Cost £80; walkingweekenders.co.uk
Cider House, Herefordshire
Currently, Ty Gwyn’s apple presses are starting production from this year’s batch of apples. The results, aged for over a year, have won several Good Taste awards. You can soak up the atmosphere, with a cider or two, in the one-bedroom Yarlington Dairy or their glamping-style Cider Shack with a wood-burning stove and sheltered outdoor bath.
Two nights from £290 self catering; tygwynholidays.co.uk
Raasay Distillery, Inner Hebrides
Cross the bridge to Skye and take the short ferry ride to the Isle of Raasay, which started building its own distillery six years ago. As his first single malt whiskey matured, a gin was created. Now the two spirits are finally available, using water filtered through the island’s volcanic rock. There is an impressive range of tastings, including those matured in sherry casks. Tours start at £15 for adults and there are 12 rooms in the distillery.
Stays including breakfast from £136; raasaydistillerie.com
Gin Distillery, London
Inscribed in the culture of the capital since the 18th century, gin was mainly distilled in private homes. This Notting Hill hotel produces its own Portobello Gin from an on-site copper still where, in addition to citrus fruits and juniper, there is nutmeg from Indonesia and iris from Italy to bring to the explosion of flavors. And in the hotel’s ‘Ginstitute’, guests can create their own gin using a blend of botanicals, as well as sample their favorite gin cocktails. And, of course, they can take home a bottle of their own personal blend.
Doubles, room only, from £150; the-distillery.london.