In geographical terms, Worcestershire can be compared to a huge saucer, with the low-lying plains of the Severn Valley and the Vale of Evesham, Britain’s foremost fruit-growing area, rising to a lip of hills, principally the Malverns in the west and the Cotswolds to the south. In character, the county divides into two broad belts. To the north lie the industrial and overspill towns – Droitwich and Redditch for instance – that have much in common with the Birmingham conurbation, while the south is predominantly rural. Bang at the geographical heart of the county is WORCESTER, an amenable county town where a liberal helping of half-timbered Tudor and handsome Georgian buildings stand cheek by jowl with some fairly charmless modern developments. The biggest single influence on the city has always been the River Severn, which flows along Worcester’s west flank. It was the river that made the city an important settlement as early as Saxon times, though its propensity to breach its banks has prompted the construction of a battery of defences which tumble down the slope from the mighty bulk of the cathedral, easily the town’s star turn. Worcester’s centre is small and compact – and, handily, all the key sights plus the best restaurants are clustered within the immediate vicinity of the cathedral.