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While the small town of Hay-on-Wye may be known as the ‘Town of Books’, this borderland town offers a wealth of attractions for the holidaymaker, book lover or not. Here’s our guide to this small but charming town located in the very north of the Brecon Beacons National Park.
No mention of Hay-on-Wye would be complete without reference to the town’s literary connections. The town itself has more than thirty second-hand bookshops, that’s a human to shop ratio of about 50:1, making it the perfect place to rummage around for that prized first edition. The town comes alive in early summer when thousands of bookworms descend for the famous literary festival. This year’s Hay Festival begins on 23rd June and promises 11 days of talks and workshops covering topics from science through to philosophy and everything in between. In addition to literary favourites such as Quentin Blake, Irvine Welsh and Caitlin Moran, there is also a walking festival and a wealth of children’s activities from cooking to vocal coaching.
Given that Hay-on-Wye lies in the Brecon Beacons National Park, it comes as little surprise that the surrounding area is equally fantastic for those looking for an active break. Offa’s Dyke, a 177 mile national trail, passes through Hay-on-Wye and offers keen walkers an opportunity to walk on a path with more than 1200 years of history. The National Park Authority arranges guided walks suitable for all abilities through the Brecons and the area is also popular with mountain bikers. You can even try your hand at gorge walking and hang gliding from the Hay Bluff! For budding astronomers, the National Park is also one of the only dark sky reserves in the world; where better to train your telescope on a dark night and relax under a blanket of stars? You could also take a look at our selection of cottages in the Brecon Beacons, ideally located for an active holiday.
It’s not just old and dusty books you’ll find in Hay-on-Wye but a number of crumbling castles and pretty churches just a short drive away from the town. Arthur’s Stone is a fantastic family day for those with an active imagination. This Neolithic burial chamber is more than 5000 years old and is said that King Arthur slew a giant here. Given Hay’s position on the English and Welsh border, it’s little wonder that this area has seen a very bloody history. Very little remains of the town’s castle today but the habitable sections are today the home of numerous second-hand books; what better marriage of history and books in this literary town?
Inspired to make the literary pilgrimage to Hay for the festival? Why not take a look at our holiday cottages which are perfectly located for the festival and the surrounding borderlands. You could even choose the aptly-named Poet’s Corner for your holiday to Hay!