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17 September 2014
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Freshwater - Dore River and Golden Valley

Down in the valley

Golden Valley. Photo - Visit Herefordshire

The Golden Valley in Herefordshire is home to a number of wonderful sights - the graceful River Dore, the former medieval monastery Dore Abbey and Arthur's Stone, Herefordshire's oldest man-made structure.

Golden Valley - stunning scenery.
Photo - Visit Herefordshire

The beauty of the Golden Valley has inspired many writers including C.S. Lewis who saw it as his real life Narnia.

This wonderful valley lies in the shadow of the neighbouring Black Mountains and boasts rich wildlife habitats.

From mature woodlands and limestone grassland peppered with wildflowers and butterflies, the River Dore and the Golden Valley's footpaths and bridleways offer visitors a varied view of wildlife in this tranquil spot.

The Midas touch

Water Vole c/o PA ImagesRunning through the heart of the scenery is the River Dore, after which the valley was named.

'Dore' or 'dwr' in Welsh means water, but the Normans thought it was the French "d'or" meaning gold, and named it the Golden Valley as a result.

Whatever the misinterpretation, it's an apt description as the valley is always bathed in gold, with daffodils in the spring, ripening crops in summer and fallen leaves in autumn.

But despite its beauty, the Golden Valley once had its fair share of problems - including a struggling population of Water Voles.

Our native Water Voles were under threat when the area was invaded by American Mink in the 1980s, but fortunately The Game Conservancy has been involved in a major conservation effort to ensure their long-term safety.

They've released hundreds of baby Water Voles bred especially for the purpose into the River Dore, to hopefully repopulate the area with this sadly declining species.

On the water bank

There's plenty of other interesting wildlife to be found in and around the river, including Brown Trout, native Crayfish, Otters and Kingfishers.

The British White Clawed Crayfish has suffered from a decline in recent years largely due to the American Signal Crayfish.

Its American cousin is larger and out-competes the native Crayfish - it also carries a disease which kills the British variety.

The River Dore is rich in fish including Brown Trout - conservation efforts are re-establishing greater numbers.

Also look out for the Bullhead, a small fish eaten by the Trout, characterised by its flat head.

Nocturnal treats

If you're really lucky (and pay the reserve a night-time visit) you might even spot a Daubenton's Bat skimming the water for emerging midges while Pipistrelles can be spotted flying in and out of specially-installed bat boxes in the trees above.

The surrounding fields are also home to the larger Noctule and Serotine bats, which feed on bigger insects like moths.

There are eight species of bat which thrive in this insect-rich habitat, and six of the 16 known British Bat species have been recorded in the Golden Valley.

Photo credits

Water Vole courtesy and copyright of PA Images.



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