Hereford and beyond

The county of Herefordshire lies 2 and a half hours’ drive from Surrey, where we live, but is a world away.  The county is only 842 sq miles, with a population of 180, 000 and a population density of 0.8/hectare.

  Surrey is beautiful, but a much larger county, 23, 800 sq. miles, with a population of 1,100,700 people, or 6.4 /hectare.  You can scarcely go half a mile without seeing another village, and the traffic is heavy in the larger towns, lighter out in the country, where we live, but still,  there are lots of cars.  Consequently, the roads in the country are  not so good, and the one lane roads can be a nightmare to negotiate, dodging potholes and oncoming cars.  . 
2010 June Hereford, Wales, Ludlow Malvern 011

Herefordshire is beautiful and unspoiled, the roads are nearly empty, they are clean (we saw not a single can or wrapper), and very good.  The city  of Hereford, well, it is dazzling, spacious, livable, and clean.   

Yet, few tourists go there.  It’s off the beaten tourist track, which helps keep its pristine nature.  Yet, Hereford Cathedral contains the Mappa Mundi, a medieval map showing the known world of the time, a “chained”library of ancient books, the earliest from the 7th century, and a copy of the first book to come off the Guthenberg press.  

It is a “transitional”cathedral whose original structure was Norman, and subsequent building, Gothic.  It contains 3 modern tapestries, a painting of the crucifiction by a painter belonging to the Royal Academy, Craigie Atchison, and, in the Lady Chapel, 3 exquisite stained glass windows, modern, intriguing, and much more moving to me than traditional stained glass, by a man called Tom Denny.  So you get the sense that this cathedral is very alive, very much a part of contemporary life.  

We spent the morning there at the cathedral, first  walking along the river in the shade of enormous chestnut trees , then crossing an ancient bridge across the Wye, walking off the delicious dinner of the night before at the Castle House Hotel.  Most memorable:  a starter of confit of rhubarb, licorice ice cream, and smoked duck breast.