In the spring of 2004, my husband and I flew to London, took a bus to Bath, and there rented a car. I know that this next sentence will seem like it has nothing to do with anything, but I had loved the movie Shadowlands, with Anthony Hopkins and Debra Winger, about C.S. Lewis and his wife Joy Gresham. Ever since I first saw that movie, I had hoped to someday visit the Golden Valley that was depicted in a painting that had been hanging on C.S. Lewis' bedroom wall since his childhood, according to the movie storyline.
I was thrilled to find out that such a place as the Golden Valley actually existed, and pursued my quest further by writing to a Tourist Information Center in the historic market town of Ross-on-Wye in Herefordshire.
Subsequently, I received an email from a woman who was volunteering to show us around the Golden Valley. After a little research that proved she was not a Nigerian bank account holder or a white slave trader, I discovered that indeed, she was a gracious and extremely generous tour guide from Marches Tours and Talks who loved her native Herefordshire and was eager to share its beauty and history with foreigners - namely, my husband and me.
We were so grateful to this kind woman who took complete strangers under her wing, even getting into our rental car with us! (We could have been kidnappers for all she knew! - yeah, I know, I've watched too many mysteries.) She courageously showed us a part of Herefordshire that we never would have seen on our own. For one thing, I would have been too scared to travel down some of the very narrow, steep, and winding roads she led us onto!
Here are some of the photos I took that March of 2004. In 2007 we returned to the Golden Valley and met up with our friends again, but that's for another post.
Hereford, on the River Wye.
The interior of Hereford Cathedral. There you will also find the Mappa Mundi and the Chained Library, fascinating pieces of British heritage, housed in this amazing cathedral.
Tomb of Sir Richard Pembridge, (d. 1375) a Knight of the Royal Order of the Garter, established by King Edward III c. 1348. Go ahead and click on the link. It's an interesting story!
Sunken road with hedge row. Many of the smaller, B roads are about one car wide and when you meet an oncoming vehicle, you have to think quickly and creatively.
The Kilpeck Church, built c. 1140. Be sure to click on the link for more information and several additional photos.
Look at the intricate stone carvings around the door of Kilpeck Church!
Massive baptismal font at Kilpeck Church
A laid hedge, made of hawthorne. Follow the link and scroll down to #12 to see some great photos of the process. I don't think Peter Rabbit or much of anything else! could get through a hedge like this.
The Bull's Head Free House in the village of Craswall, where we enjoyed a wonderful Sunday dinner with our new friends. And I thought my house was out in the middle of nowhere! Evidently the place has a reputation for good food and drink, for it was packed!
The beautiful Golden Valley with more of those cute sheep. Hard to believe anyone would eat one of them, isn't it. But I suppose it would be pretty expensive to just keep them as pets. :-)
We had an amazing time in the Golden Valley and hope to return someday - if airline tickets ever become reasonably priced again and the US dollar doesn't plummet in value... I'm not holding my breath.
But I have lots of photos and wonderful memories.