The book-loving city of Hay on Wye is greater than only a cowl story. With quirky unbiased outlets, beautiful pure surroundings, medieval ruins and out of doors pursuits, this Welsh charmer is an actual page-turner.
Nestled on the banks of the River Wye and surrounded by the undulating countryside of the Brecon Beacons Nationwide Park, Hay on Wye is a small Welsh city with its identification firmly established in books. However dig just a little deeper and also you’ll quickly discover a assortment of attention-grabbing issues to do in Hay on Wye past its internationally acclaimed literary credentials.
Distinctly devoid of twee, probably not posh and much from grungy, the vibe in Hay on Wye is assured, relaxed and easy-going. The annual Hay Pageant could draw the crowds, however the charming river-side city has its personal attract any time of yr.
Outdoors the city, mountaineering trails vary from tranquil river strolls to punishing mountainous climbs. The meandering river is excellent for a scenic paddle and nation lanes and hilltop roads present a myriad of biking choices or breathtaking views.
1 – WANDER AROUND HAY’S BOOKSHOPS
The very first thing to do in Hay on Wye is to find what put this pint-sized Welsh vacation spot on the map – its love affair with books. Coming from London, sadly bereft of unbiased bookshops, stepping on to the streets of Hay on Wye is a sensory immersion in retail nirvana.
For anybody who will get their highs from shopping by attention-grabbing and quirky bookshops, Hay on Wye has sufficient to fulfill even the deepest habit. With a give attention to uncommon antiquarian books, there are lots of surprises to be discovered on the cabinets.
Richard Sales space’s Bookshop, the most important second-hand bookstore in Europe, is unfold over a 3-floor emporium. The proprietor is credited with beginning Hay on Wye’s guide craze and his retailer is the most effective place to take in the book-loving vibe. The Poetry Bookshop is the one second-hand guide store within the UK dedicated to poetry and Homicide & Mayhem covers detective fiction, true crime and horror.
2 – EXPLORE THE INDEPENDENT SHOPS IN HAY
There’s an understated cool vibe in Hay on Wye that extends past the cabinets lined with uncommon and attention-grabbing tomes. It appears like a city that is aware of what it’s all about; the unbiased outlets are the primary glimpse of a confident vacation spot.
Neither hippy nor posh and with out an exaggerated give attention to design, the outlets in Hay on Wye aren’t about making daring assertion. They’re quirky and attention-grabbing, however nonetheless pleasant and welcoming.
Bain and Murrin’s is an emporium full of distinctive garments, footwear, equipment and common stuff from folks with an eye fixed for retail. Principally Maps is an internet and retail enterprise specialising in tremendous, uncommon and strange vintage maps. The vinyl revival is alive and kicking within the brilliant purple Haystacks Music.
3 – PICK A HIKE IN THE BEAUTIFUL WYE VALLEY
Located within the undulating countryside of Southern Wales beside the idyllic Wye River, a weekend in Hay on Wye is the best alternative to stretch out past the boundaries of this charming market city and discover the Wye Valley.
STROLL ALONG THE RIVER ON THE WYE VALLEY WALK
The Wye Valley stroll is a 136-mile path that follows the River Wye over 12 days. Nevertheless, you possibly can simply choose off a small part of the hike to understand the gorgeous surroundings on this a part of Wales with a stroll alongside the river.
The Rail Path Round stroll is a 3.4-kilometre loop from the centre of city that ambles alongside the banks of the river, utilising an deserted railway tunnel and monitor. Leaving from St Mary’s church, the stroll passes Norman ruins, the gorgeous Warren (extra on that later) and several other giant grassy clearings by the river that are perfect for a picnic. It’s a comparatively flat path which ought to take round an hour to finish.
HEAD TO THE BLACK MOUNTAINS ON OFFA’S DYKE PATH
When you’ve bought a bit extra power, climb as much as Hay Bluff through Offa’s Dyke Path – a shocking mountainous mountaineering path that follows the contours of the Black Mountains whereas crisscrossing the border between England and Wales.
The trail begins from simply south of Hay on Wye and climbs for round 7 or 8 kilometres to achieve Hay Bluff. From right here, nice views prolong throughout to the Black Mountains. You possibly can both head again the way in which you got here or proceed alongside the magnificent ridge behind the bluff.
4 – TAKE A PADDLE TO THE WYE RIVER
The Wye River stretches for 215 kilometres making a meandering border between England and Wales and round Hay on Wye it’s idyllic. Lush inexperienced timber encompass the vast river which ambles by farmland beneath imposing mountains. One of the simplest ways to see it’s on a canoe.
From the village of Glasbury, it takes 2 to three hours to paddle right down to Hay on Wye. It’s a wonderful a part of the river and, heading downstream you barely have to paddle in any respect. Just a few mini rapids alongside the course present the faintest rush of adrenaline for inexperienced canoers. You probably have a full day to spare, you possibly can go all the way in which to Witney on Wye
Wye Valley Canoes in Glasbury rents out canoes or kayaks for half or a full day, with choose up from Hay on Wye or Witney on Wye included. For a barely longer journey, Celtic Canoes organises 2- or 3-day canoe journeys the place you may make all of it the way in which from Glasbury to Hereford tenting by the river on the way in which.
5 – SWIM AT THE WARREN
In case your go to to Hay on Wye coincides with some good climate, the Warren is a small rocky seaside on the banks of the Wye River which is ideal for wild swimming. Past the seaside, a small grassy space is a good spot to have a picnic or kick a ball round for a lazy afternoon.
There are a few other ways to get to the Warren from Hay on Wye. Firstly, you possibly can stroll from St Mary’s church. It’s a stunning 20-minute stroll with glimpses of the river showing between the dense foliage of the timber lining the water.
The opposite possibility is to gather the Warren on a canoe journey from Glasbury to Hay on Wye. The seaside seems round 2 hours after leaving from Glasbury (about 20 minutes earlier than you get to Hay on Wye). As you’ll most likely be a bit moist from the canoe, it’s a superb time to go for a swim anyway. A water-proof drum is offered by Wye Valley Canoes to retailer towels, picnic provides and some other stuff.
6 – CYCLE VILLAGES AND MOUNTAINS
Dissecting the gorgeous mountainous surroundings within the space, quite a few bike trails present an excellent alternative to get open air. It’s a beautiful factor to do in Hay on Wye for the train alone, however there’s additionally lots to see alongside the way in which.
To discover the sleep villages of the world, a 24-mile circuit leaves from the city and takes the again roads over quiet nation roads. With stops for picture alternatives alongside the way in which, this could take round 2-4 hours. When you add an additional 38 miles and prolong the time to a full day, it’s also possible to cowl the lovable black and white villages of Herefordshire.
When you’re actually ready to work the legs, take a 30-mile cycle into the mountains for unbelievable views of the Black Mountains scarp. Enable 5 to six hours and plenty of onerous work. The pleasant folks at Drover Cycles will have the ability to package you out with a motorbike and supply particulars on the most effective routes within the space.
7 – DEVOUR THE HAY ON WYE FOOD SCENE
Whereas the city could also be steeped in literature, there’s no fiction to the tales of fabulous regionally sourced meals radiating from Hay on Wye. Whereas the Hay on Wye literary pageant brings worldwide guests who’re searching for respectable grub, any time of yr you’ll discover nice consuming choices within the city.
The Electrical Café within the Outdated Electrical Store serves up wonderful vegetarian meals from a small each day menu. The Chinese language buddha bowl and the do-it-yourself tagine have been each scrumptious. The cake and occasional each allow them to down, so head over to the Globe at Hay the place we discovered (surprisingly) a lot better espresso. It’s additionally an excellent place to take a seat exterior of their backyard and revel in a drink.
On the different finish of the consuming spectrum, Chapters does a really fairly priced seasonal set menu Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings. We have been significantly impressed with the very inventive vegetarian menu. Simply exterior Hay on Wye, in Glasbury, the River Inn Café (the café hooked up to Wye Valley Canoes) does tasty lunches on their deck overlooking the river.
In case your go to to Hay on Wye coincides with the superb cheese market on Thursdays, seize a pastry on the fly from the pop-up stall from Kate’s Bakery.
8 – DRIVE UP GOSPEL PASS TO HAY BLUFF
If mountaineering as much as Hay Bluff appears like it is going to take extra time and power than you’re keen to expend, the scenic drive up through Gospel Move will get you to the bottom of the bluff with none of the trouble. It’s additionally a shocking drive.
The highway to Gospel Move follows the lengthy, slender, steep-sided Ewyas Valley with beautiful views over the rolling nation on one facet and the Black Mountains on the opposite. The one-track highway is the very best in Wales and one of the crucial scenic issues to do in Hay on Wye.
When you arrive on the prime of the move (the Hay Move automobile park) there are numerous brief walks you are able to do to discover the world, together with a 9.2-kilometre loop as much as Hay Bluff. Alternatively, you’re free to roam across the unusually bobbly grassy space taking in probably the greatest views in Wales.
When you’ve completed exploring the world proceed to the Llanthony Priory.
9 – HAVE AN AFTERNOON PINT AT LLANTHONY PRIORY
Only a 20-minute drive from the Hay Bluff automobile park, the ruins of Llanthony Priory are one of the crucial atmospheric issues to do close to Hay on Wye. The priory dates again to 1100 however the ruins you see at the moment are from the ultimate rebuild within the 13th century.
Henry VIII disbanded the monastery in 1538 as a part of the Dissolution of the Monasteries whereby non secular buildings have been appropriated by the crown as one in every of his preliminary acts following the separation of English and Welsh church buildings from the management of the Pope. Henry VIII finally bought the priory for £160 and, following subsequent homeowners, it was finally left to decay.
Its present state creates a completely atmospheric expertise with the outdated ruins set in a distant valley within the Black Mountains. Velvety inexperienced grass frames the ruins that are backed by beautiful views. Seize a pint from the lodge, remarkably constructed proper throughout the abbey, and revel in one of the crucial scenic drinks in Wales.
WHERE TO STAY IN HAY ON WYE
With the Hay Pageant a global occasion attracting huge vacationer numbers yearly, there are extra lodging selections in Hay on Wye than you’ll often count on for a city of its measurement. Take note, nevertheless, that lodging can guide out early over the pageant, so guide properly prematurely. Listed below are some options for an excellent keep in Hay on Wye.
HEARTY & HOMELY
Whereas this historic townhouse is bursting with rustic appeal, it’s the pleasant hosts who make the expertise. Don’t go previous the complete scrumptious cooked breakfast.
BEST TIME TO GO TO HAY ON WYE
Hay on Wye and the surroundings that surrounds it has one thing to supply at any time of yr. Between June and August the climate is at its finest, the city will probably be buzzing and the countryside a lush shade of inexperienced. From September to November vacationer numbers and lodging charges begin to cool off with the climate.
Over winter there will probably be a crisp chill within the air and the encircling mountains may be frosted with snow – beautiful situations for a recent wintery stroll. The city may also be a lot quieter.
The biking and canoeing can be found any time of yr though the Wye River will probably be just a little extra refreshing over winter and there could also be snow on the hills.
The annual Hay Pageant is what attracts crowds to this in any other case sleepy Welsh city. The pageant runs for 10 days from the tip of Could to the beginning of June, the place worldwide authors descend in town to ship talks. There’s additionally dwell music, brief movies and stuff for teenagers. The pageant has turn into so common it has branched out to worldwide venues together with Mexico, Spain, Croatia, Peru and Abu Dhabi.
Visiting Hay on Wye throughout the pageant is a good factor to do, nevertheless it will get very busy so lodging must be booked properly prematurely. Thankfully, in any respect different occasions of the yr, there’s lots to do in Hay on Wye.
HOW TO GET TO HAY ON WYE
There’s no prepare station in Hay on Wye so getting there through public transport includes catching a prepare to Hereford which is 22 miles away. From Hereford, bus providers run 5 occasions a day from Monday to Saturday. There are not any bus providers on Sunday.
Over the Hay Pageant there may be further public transport choices so test their web site for extra info. If it is advisable to rent a automobile on your Hay on Wye journey, we suggest rentalcars.com who examine costs throughout all main automobile rental corporations.
As London based mostly journey bloggers, we’re usually exploring unique locations removed from dwelling, however there’s a wealth of nice experiences available throughout the UK. Listed below are a few of our favorite guides to our dwelling nation. For extra see our Britain web page.
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