Following the success of Tubular Bells, Mike Oldfield found himself uncomfortable with the public attention so he retreated to the England-Wales border to work on his follow-up. He wrote Hergest Ridge at his new home, The Beacon, but recorded it at Richard Branson's The Manor, like Tubular Bells. Hergest Ridge was named for the hill near Kington, Herefordshire, close to where Oldfield was living.
The cover photograph features scenery from Hergest Ridge and an Irish Wolfhound named Bootleg who lived at The Manor. Mike Oldfield recalled to Uncut that the pooch, "spent most of the time we were recording Tubular Bells under the mixing desk."