Travel: Britain/ Six of the best places to visit around Malvern

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The Independent Travel
1 Evesham Now relieved of much of its traffic-carrying duties by a bypass, the medieval heart of this market town has the space it deserves. The 12th-century abbey gateway is particularly striking, as are the water meadows. Hungry travellers will be pleased to find that the town boasts the best collection of Balti restaurants outside Birmingham.

2 Hereford The overbearing cathedral appears rather too bulky for the human scale of the surroundings. But it is a real treasure trove, starting with the ancient Mappa Mundi in the brand-new exhibition centre, which opened last month. The cathedral's other great treasure is the Library, which has the largest collection of chained books in the world. The fund of knowledge has been preserved by chaining every one of the 1,444 books.

3 Ledbury A cobbled alley runs up to the church, past the 16th-century Butcher Row House which now houses the town museum. Some exhibits are faintly ridiculous - the first Kodak Instamatic camera, for example - but most are fun. The oddest is the "boot bath". This is a person-sized metal shoe on wheels. It was filled with water and trundled from door to door, enabling the poor to dunk themselves in it.

4 Leominster The priory is unique for having three naves, one built in each of the 12th, 13th and 14th centuries. As well as being a one-stop study of English church architecture, it features a ducking stool which was last used to immerse a scolding wife in 1809.

5 Much Marcle This village, four miles south-west of Ledbury, is notable for its yew tree (indeed, the index to a pre-war guidebook to Herefordshire ends with the entry "Yews, Notable" and a reference to the village). The churchyard is draped with a vast tree, shouldering the Norman church aside. So big is this ancient yew that a seat has been hewn from its gnarled old trunk. Inside the church yo find some exquisitely decorated tombs.

6 Upton-upon-Severn For travellers, the greatest significance of this pretty riverside town is a store on the High Street: the Map Shop, at number 15. Though its immediate catchment area is not sufficient to sustain the stocks of weird, wonderful and wayward charts, it has a healthy mail- order business (call 01684 593146 for details). The Mappa Mundi is not yet in stock.

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