For a tiny place, Hay-on-Wye has a really big reputation. Dubbed the ‘Town of Books’ for its profusion of bookshops, Hay is also home to two international festivals: great writers, thinkers, artists and musicians share their big ideas at Hay Festival and How The Light Gets In. Beyond its cultural life, Hay’s location makes it an ideal base for outdoor adventures – hugging the River Wye, and with a foot in both England and Wales, it's a captivating place to visit for bibliophiles, walkers and water-lovers alike.
Love Your Hay-on-Wye Break
A Characterful High Street
The independent spirit is strong in Hay-on-Wye – and that's evident on the high street. Traditional shopfronts painted in zingy colours will lure you in to browse art galleries, homeware stores and eclectic antiques emporia. And of course there are countless bookshops stocked with antique, second-hand and new books catering for every literary taste, from detective fiction to poetry. You'll find foodie gems, too, including relaxed boho cafes and a retro sheep's milk ice-cream parlour. The weekly Thursday morning market is packed with more than 40 stalls piled with gorgeous edible goodies.
Fun on the River Wye
Over 100 miles of the Wye is navigable to canoes and kayaks – get a taste of river life on a half-day paddle to Whitney-on-Wye, or tackle a multi-day camping and canoe adventure on a guided tour or self-steered voyage. Look out for kingfishers, herons, cormorants, swans and otters as you wind downstream. Wild swimmers, stone skimmers and picnickers head to the Warren, a shingle ‘beach’ and open meadow just a short walk west along the riverside path running behind St Mary's Church.
Hike or Bike the Hills
Both the Wye Valley Walk and Offa’s Dyke Path pass through Hay-on-Wye, making for some corking days out on foot. Hike south along Offa's Dyke to the heights of Hay Bluff for far-reaching views over Herefordshire and the Brecon Beacons. Or take to your bike to explore the mountains and quiet country roads – stretch your legs a little farther to roam one of two Cider Circuits or the Black and White Villages trail.
Explore Near Hay-on-Wye
The huge stone slabs of this atmospheric Neolithic burial tomb, high on the hills above the Golden Valley east of Hay-on-Wye, were raised over 5,000 years ago. Legend has it that a mark on one of the slabs is the impression left by the elbow of a falling giant slain by King Arthur. Follow the Herefordshire Trail to reach this atmospheric site – and time your visit to watch the sun set over the Black Mountains.
Black Mountains Botanicals Gin-Making Experience
Enjoy a day at this award-winning Herefordshire distillery creating your own personal bottle of gin. The master distiller will guide you through the various processes, from matching ingredients and choosing your flavour profile to macerating and distilling. Bottoms up!