The National Trust's Croft Castle was visited the day after we visited the Brecon Beacons and Hay-on-Wye in early October. The castle and 1,500 acres of parkland are located in the county of Herefordshire close to Leominster and the English & Welsh border.
|Dogs are not permitted in the castle and gardens themselves but there quite a few walks that can be enjoyed with dogs in the parkland where the castle is situated. The walks range from a short stroll around the meadow in front of the castle where there is an interactive trail to longer waymarked and colour coded routes. The longest of these routes is 2.75 miles long and takes walkers on a uphill route from the castle up to an iron age hill fort and the ramparts of Croft Ambrey. When conditions are as clear as during our visit you can see up 14 counties from the hill fort. There is also the Fishpool Valley circular route which is 1.5 miles long and also begins at the castle. This route is largely flat with some gentle slopes although it can be very muddy at times in the wooded valley. The valley is a haven for wildlife and has been designated a site of special scientific interest. Visitors are asked to keep dogs on a lead around the car park, tea room and around livestock in the parkland.|
|Next to the castle is the 12th century church of St Michael & All Angels which is also open to visitors and is still a working parish church. There is also a National Trust licensed tea room at Croft offering a variety of hot and cold foods including speciality cakes as well as a gift shop and a small second-hand book shop in the old stable yard. New to the property for 2008 was a childrens play castle as well as taster tours of the castle and a tramper buggy for touring the gardens. The castle itself dates from the early 17th century with Georgian interiors and the present Lord and Lady Croft still live in part of the castle. The castle has been in the care of the National Trust since 1956 when the future of the estate was in trouble after the death of Major Owen Croft and a partnership between the family and the National Trust was formed.|
|Although the current castle building dates from the 17th century there has been a castle on the site long before this, it was once a Norman stronghold, and was then partially destroyed in the English Civil War before being converted to a mansion home. The restored walled garden was still full of colour even this late in the year and the apple trees including a number of local varieties were full of apples ready to be picked.|
|The parkland is open throughout the year although the castle, gardens and shop are closed during some winter months with limited opening hours at other times. There are admission prices for all areas of the castle and parkland except for National Trust members. For more details about the castle including contact details and details of events that are held here such as country fairs and guided walks visit the National Trust website.|