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
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. .
Herefordshire is beautiful and unspoiled, the roads are nearly empty, they are clean
(we saw not a single can or wrapper), and very easy to travel on. 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
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.