Herefordshire

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Herefordshire is a historic and ceremonial county in the West Midlands region of England. It also forms a unitary district known as the County of Herefordshire. It borders the English ceremonial counties of Shropshire to the north, Worcestershire to the east, Gloucestershire to the south east and the Welsh preserved counties of Gwent to the south west and Powys to the west. Hereford is a cathedral city and is the county town; with a population of approximately 50,000 inhabitants it is also the largest settlement. The county is one of the most rural and least densely populated in England, being a largely agricultural area which is primarily known for its fruit and cider production.

The county is famous for its apple and pear orchards, and of course its cider. There are many orchards around the county but not as many as there once were.

In the last few years, soft fruits such as strawberries have become a new and rapidly expanding area of the agricultural economy of the county. One of the main reasons for this was the introduction of the polytunnel or French tunnel. This allowed the strawberries to be grown for a far longer season and at a higher quality (with no blemishes from the rain). The strawberries are mainly picked by Eastern European workers who come over for the season to earn some money, more than they could working in their country of origin and with the bonus, for many of them, of learning or improving their English fluency. The polytunnels have been a major issue in the county, as some people see them as a "blot on the landscape".

Although some polytunnel sites are technically illegal, Herefordshire Council has chosen to ignore legal ruling in the belief that if agriculture is to survive, then it must be allowed to innovate.

Historically, the rivers Wye and Lugg were navigable but the wide seasonal variations in water levels mean that few craft larger than canoes and coracles are now used. There are canoe centres at The Boat House, Glasbury-on-Wye, the Hereford Youth Service and Kerne Bridge Ross-on-Wye, as well as a rowing club in Hereford.

The early 19th century saw the construction of two canals, The Hereford and Gloucester Canal and The Leominster & Stourport Canal but these were never successful and there are now few remains to be seen. The Hereford and Gloucester Canal is currently undergoing a restoration project, including the construction of a new canal basin in Hereford city centre as part of the regeneration of the Edgar Street Grid.

Wording courtesy of http://www.wikipedia.org/

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