This passage forms part of historian Fred Hando’s journey through Gwent.

If you are among the fortunate few who use their legs, you must have the magnificent approach via the Hatterrall ridge. Leave the bus at Pandy, take the Longtown road and climb the lane past Trewyn house to the ridge, along which you will have noble views of Herefordshire, of the mountain system, of the blue bells, of the landslide, and, if you wish, a delightful descent past the ruins of Walter Savage Landor’s house to Llanthony Abbey.

The motorist will turn right at the Queen’s Head inn, and thread the narrow lane down and up into the village, parking at the front of the rise to the church. The first view of the church justifies your journey, for the little brown sanctuary wobbles - yes, wobbles - on a slope above which towers the landslide. ‘Wobbles?’ Well, the tower bends perilously towards the hillside while the chancel threatens at any moment to disintegrate into the valley. I know littel about Martin, the saint of the church, but he has had a potent influence in stabilising a church which might have evolved in the creative mind of Walt Disney.

We saw Cwmyoy Church during during the harvest festival of 1953. Every available window -sill niche and shelf and corner was decorated with flowers and fruit, and to our intense delight on every pew-end was affixed a Cwmyoy corn-dolly, made by loving hands at Blaenyoy. Since then we have seen many ornate species, but we retain our affection for the simple hoop-dolly of Cwmyoy.

A relic of fertility-worship, the corn-dolly has been a pagan symbol of the last sheaf in the reaping field for thousands of years. In its varying forms it is known throughout this island and southern Europe.

The chancel of Cwmyoy church is a remarkable example of a ‘weeping-chancel’. In many of our churches the axis of the chancel slews sideways, and it seems the builders planned it thus, for if the slant had been due to the landslide it should have followed the slant of the tower.

Deep in the soil behind a derelict cider mill a 'crucifixion-stone' was discovered. My friend the late vicar suggested to me that this stone once rested on the pedestal which is still to be seen in the vicarage garden.

There is an undoubted track - possibly a pilgrims' way to the abbey - which passes this pedestal, in which case the sculpture may have been part of a wayside Calvary such as we find in France.

I have taken many visitors to Cwmyoy. All experienced the wonderful exhilaration of holy upland place. There is little change in Cwmyoy since 1682, when Tom Price was buried there. Se his memorial:

'Thomas Price he takes his nap

In our common mother lap

Waiting to heare the Bride-groom say

Awake my dear and come away.'

On a haleyon June afternoon Ysaid and I threaded our way through the enchanted Vale of Ewyas , where a vastly improved road took us towards Llandewi Nant Honddu, the church of St. David on the brook of the Black water - in short, Llanthony.

Improved the road is in our time. How did Archdeacon Coxe react to the track in 1800?

'In this road, which with more propriety could be termed a ditch, we heard the roar of the torrent beneath, but seldom enjoyed a view of the circumjacent scenery... I would not recommend timid persons to pass this way in a carriage, for in the whole course of my travels I seldom met with one more inconvenient and unsafe. Excepting in very few places, there is not room for a single horse to pass by a chaise; and should two carriages meet neither could proceed until one was drawn back a considerable distance. The soil is boggy in wet and rough weather; the ruts worn by the small Welsh cars are extremely deep, and often times we were prevented from being overturned only by the narrowness of the road and the steepness of the sides.'

In silence we glided around bend after bend, until almost with a sigh, we reached the sleeping hamlet of Llanthony.

Mr Powell, who has spent his long life at the post office on the left, indicated the school house in the centre and the mill on the right, long silent, though we could trace the mill race.

This is an extract from Hando’s Gwent, Volume One, edited by Chris Barber and reproduced with Mr Barber’s permission.