I HAVE just returned to Malvern after visiting Ledbury.

Aren't we fortunate to have two such lovely and contrasting towns just a few miles apart and linked by rail.

I am intrigued by a kind of hidden Ledbury that exists charmingly down the alleys and in the courts behind the wondrous variety of buildings that line both sides of the High Street. Quite a number of these now boast galleries and cafes and interesting small retail outlets and services.

I think that visitors new to the town are not really aware of this extra dimension. For instance, some of the galleries need searching out so that many artistic productions remain undiscovered.

It is too easily overlooked what a contribution the arts make to the national economy and what a draw for visitors the arts can be - witness the Ledbury Poetry Festival. A thriving arts scene, which Ledbury has, gives a town a character and a status and is enriching in both the cultural and economic senses.

Artistree, the Shell Gallery, the Garret at the rear of Open Door Designs, Tinsmiths, Ice Bytes, Hus and Hern, Shanti Shanti, the Market Theatre and now the beautifully restored Masters House and all those I have no doubt omitted, all help give the town extra character and identity that discerning visitors particularly enjoy.

CHARLES EDEN Madresfield