The Longtown Group of Parishes – Longtown with Clodock, Craswall, Llanveynoe and Walterstone – is a rural community in the southwest corner of Herefordshire.
The parishes lie on the Welsh border where the sandstone uplands of the Brecon Beacons National Park give way to the red soils of Herefordshire. The spectacular and unspoilt pastoral scenery is dominated by the sweep of Hatteral Hill and the sharp ridge of the Black Hill, known locally as the Cat’s Back. It includes the river valleys of the upper Monnow and its main tributaries, the Escley and the Olchon. These support a wide range of wildlife including brown trout, dippers, kingfishers and otters.
Farming is the real bedrock of the area, mostly sheep, but there are some dairy and suckler herds, goats and a fair number of horses. Tourism is becoming increasingly important and several farms have diversified into bed and breakfast or holiday letting.
The area is steeped in history. Prehistoric occupation is attested by Bronze Age tombs in Llanveynoe and the Iron Age hill fort at Walterstone. Early Christian churches were founded at Clodock and Llanveynoe and, with the coming of the Normans, castles were built at Clodock, Longtown and Walterstone, as well as a mediaeval priory at Craswall.
This was marcher country, part of the fiefdom carved out of Welsh territory by the de Lacy family. It only officially became part of England at the time of Henry VIII. Welsh influence is shown by many of the local place-names and several of the prominent local families also have Welsh names.
Although extending over approximately 10 miles by 3 miles, there are no main roads or railways and no industrial estates or shopping centres. There are no doctors’ surgeries or dental practices. The parish is served by only one school (pre-school and primary) and only one shop/post office, both at Longtown. Public transport is virtually non-existent. The nearest shopping centres, markets, hospitals and railway stations are 10 miles away at Abergavenny or 18 miles away at Hereford.
None of this prevents the Longtown Group of Parishes enjoying an active and varied community life centred on its four pubs, three village halls and six churches and chapels.