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Sightseeing Towns & Villages

Hay on Wye

A road to Hay on Wye

Nestled in the beautiful Welsh countryside, Hay-on-Wye is a small town with a big reputation. Known as the “town of books”, Hay-on-Wye is a literary haven, with bookshops lining the streets and literary events taking place throughout the year. But there is much more to this charming town than just its literary connections. Hay-on-Wye is situated on the border between Wales and England and has a rich history dating back over a thousand years. The town was founded in the early twelfth century as a castle and market town and has been a centre of trade and commerce ever since. The town’s strategic location on the River Wye made it an important crossing point for traders and travellers, and it became a popular stopover point on the route between London and the Welsh coast.

Today, Hay-on-Wye is perhaps best known for its bookshops. There are over thirty independent bookshops in the town, many of them housed in old buildings with creaky floors and cosy nooks. The shops offer a wide variety of books, from rare and collectible editions to new releases and bestsellers. Many of the bookshops are specialists in particular genres or subjects, such as travel, history, or poetry, and there is a real sense of community among the booksellers and their customers. The town’s literary connections are celebrated each year with the Hay Festival of Literature & Arts, which takes place in late May and early June. The festival attracts a diverse range of writers, thinkers, and artists from around the world, and offers a wide variety of events, from book readings and talks to music performances and art exhibitions. The festival has been running since 1988 and has become one of the most important cultural events in the UK.

But there is more to Hay-on-Wye than just books. The town is surrounded by beautiful countryside, with the River Wye running through it and the Brecon Beacons National Park just a short drive away. The landscape is a mix of rolling hills, green valleys, and picturesque villages, and there are plenty of opportunities for walking, cycling, and outdoor activities. The town is also home to the Hay Festival Winter Weekend, which takes place in November and celebrates the best of winter sports, music, and culture. Hay-on-Wye’s historic architecture is also worth exploring. The town is home to a number of well-preserved buildings and structures, including the twelfth-century Hay Castle, which is currently undergoing restoration work. The castle was once a key defensive stronghold and played an important role in the battles between England and Wales in the medieval period. Today, the castle is open to visitors and offers a glimpse into the town’s rich history.

Other notable buildings in the town include the clock tower, which dates back to the nineteenth century and is a popular meeting point for locals and visitors alike. The tower stands at the heart of the town and is a striking landmark, with its elegant design and ornate clock face. There are also a number of churches and chapels in the town, including St Mary’s Church, which dates back to the thirteenth century and boasts a stunning stained glass window. In addition to its literary and cultural attractions, Hay-on-Wye has a vibrant local community. The town has a range of independent shops, cafes, and restaurants, as well as a regular market on Thursdays. There are also several pubs and bars in the town, serving a range of local ales and ciders, as well as live music and events.

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