At the foot of the Black Mountains in the south east of Herefordshire, the picturesque valley of the River Dore is thought to have become known as the Golden Valley due to Norman confusion with the word Dore (or the Welsh word for water, dwr) and French for gold, d’or. Whether by default or by design, it seems a fitting name for an area of such enchanting natural beauty. Here, we like to feel that its name depicts its continuous vibrant golden colour through the seasons; the yellow of the hoards of wild daffodils in spring, the vast waving fields of wheat in the summer and the burnished leaves of autumn. This truly is an area with the midas touch for visitors, especially walkers and many of the pubs have rooms that welcome the odd muddy boot like The Temple Bar Inn at Ewyas Harold where you enjoy Sunday lunch, afternoon tea, a pub lunch or a delightful three course meal and where you can hang your boots up for the night in one of their splendid rooms.

The main villages are Ewyas Harold, Dorestone, Peterchurch and Abbeydore and the area has inspired writers and been a setting for films like Shadow Lands, Lewis Caroll’s Alice in Wonderland who’s brother was Vicar at hamlet Vowchurch. CS Lewis used Authurs Stone, part of a Neolithic tomb at Dorstone and Herefordshire’s oldest manmande structure, as inspiration for the stone table where Aslan was sacrificed in The Chronicles of Narnia. From fiction to fact the iconic Dore Abbey was founded by Cistercian Monks from Morimond in France in 1147. Now it is a serene venue for music and an attractive destination for visitors wishing to connect with the history of the area (see more information on visiting Dore Abbey below).

Golden Valley really is a precious part of Herefordshire.

Conducted Tours of Dore Abbey

 

P1000747Dore-Abbey-frontOrganised groups are most welcome to visit the Abbey. Unless a service or other celebration is taking place, groups may come at any time.

The usual format is for the group to arrive at the southern lychgate on the B4347 Ewyas Harold to Hay road. Cars may be parked along the road. Coaches may drop visitors off at the gate, turning if required to allow passengers to alight without crossing the road. There is a rest point for a coach 200 yards away. Post code is HR2 0AA.

The party will be met, and led into the Abbey, where tea, coffee and biscuits are available. Guides will be allocated at a maximum of 15 visitors per guide. The tour, which includes the Abbey grounds, usually lasts about one hour, but may be lengthened or shortened if required. There is also scope to tailor the content to particular interests. It is usual to allow one hour and a half from arrival to departure.

Portaloos are available, except in winter, when it may be possible to arrange the use of facilities in the nearby village hall. Wheelchair access is provided. Sensible footwear is recommended.

Plans of the Abbey are usually available free of charge; a major guide book covering every aspect of the Abbey is for sale at £14.95, and a short, illustrated guide book for £4

The charge for coffee, tea and biscuits is £1.50 per person. For conducted tours it is usual to make a minimum donation of £4 per person, and for self-guided group tours a minimum of £3 per person. The money raised helps towards the upkeep of this historic building, which does not receive financial help from Church or State for running costs. It would be appreciated if the total could be paid in a lump sum, either in cash, or cheque to Friends of Dore Abbey, at the time of the visit.

Intending group organisers are requested to contact Peter Rostron on 01981 570 628 or e-mail

ROSTRON@OAKFORD57.fsnet.co.uk to discuss their proposed date, numbers and requirements as long before the visit as possible.

Local attractions include; nearby Kentchurch Court (enquiries@kentchurchcourt.co.uk), Kilpeck Church (j.p.bailey@btinternet.com) and Skenfrith Church (revjean.prosser@btinternet.com), all of which offer guided tours.