I WALKED around Hereford the other day and it felt like a ghost town.

Herefordshire is one of the most beautiful counties in the country: rolling countryside with stunning walks and dotted with charming little towns and villages liberally sprinkled with ancient and quirky pubs and hostelries.

Internationally, it is up there with the Dordogne and Tuscany.

Supping a chilled Weston's cider, condensation gathering on the clear glass in the evening's twilight, has to beat the pants off a resinous murky overpriced sweaty French chardonnay.

At the county's heart sits the splendid Norman cathedral city of Hereford.

Yet on my walk, Castle Green was empty, the riverside walk was deserted, the manicured tennis courts were racketless, the cathedral main door was closed with a sign saying please go round the back to the tradesman's entrance.

Sitting alone, enjoying a fragrant cup of tea and delicious freshly made cake in the Castle Hotel's stylish new tearoom, I decided to ring the council to ask who was in charge of tourism.

Only to be told the person to speak to was on holiday, but they couldn't say where to (data protection).

Sutton St Nicholas

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