Winding around the narrow lanes through the Golden Valley's idyllic countryside, past a neolithic monument, ancient churches and ruined castles is the closest most of us will get to travelling back in time. It's a wild, untamed place, with Hay-on-Wye to the north and Pontrilas to the south. The name is a little misleading as in fact it is carved between two river valleys, the Dore and The Monnow, and the Black Mountains. This makes for many highs and lows, from the thrilling peaks of the Cat’s Back, Black Hill and Moccas Wood to the mosaic of rolling hills and patchworked fields.
Love Your Golden Valley Break
Hike through Hills & History
Ramble around the rolling hills and rural villages, stumble across remote ruins - from the highest medieval monastery Craswall Priory to the motte and bailey at Snodhill, and make a pilgrimage to Dore Abbey, a tranquil 12-Century Cistercian monastery. Arthur’s Stone is an atmospheric prehistoric burial chamber with views out across the mountains and there’s many special churches, including St Margaret’s, Bacton, Moccas and Clodock. Walking at sunrise or sunset is recommended for the views, whilst the stargazing is pretty out of the world too.
Artisan Food & Drink
Amongst the ancient wildflower meadows, grazing sheep and babbling brooks, it is a hive of foodie activity. Homegrown artisans make gin, ciders, ice-cream, chocolates and cheeses here. Some open their doors to visitors, try the gin-making experience at Black Mountain Botanicals, lick an ice-cream at Rowlestone Court or at Shepherds' ice-cream parlour in Hay-on-Wye. You can pick up cider fresh from the farm at Gwaktin and Ty Gwyn, whilst Artistraw opens by appointment for tours and tastings. Look out for many other local specialities in farm shops and delis, including Wildknapp Gin, By Eva Chocolates, Neal’s Yard Creamery cheese, plus cider from Pips and Fair Oak.
People are drawn to the Golden Valley to write, paint and create. And that isn’t anything new. It is said that C.S.Lewis found it a particularly inspiring spot - one look at the stone slabs of Arthur’s Stone and you are immediately transported to the scene where Aslan is sacrificed in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. We also like to think a little of our local enchantment made its way into Alice in Wonderland. Lewis Carroll had connections with the area as his brother was vicar at Vowchurch (and is buried in the churchyard, Rev Skeffington Hume Dodgson).
Explore The Golden Valley
Dore Abbey is a most serene spot. Today it is a parish church but, in its prime, it was one of the great medieval Cistercian monasteries of England. Enjoy the wall paintings, medieval glass and tiles and the original stone altar. The beautiful wooden screen is the work of celebrated 17th-Century craftsman, John Abel.
An atmospheric Neolithic burial chamber made of great stone slabs, set in the hills. Over 5000 years old, legend has it that King Arthur slew a giant here who left the impression of his elbows on one of the stones as he fell. Off the beaten track and with glorious views.