I am lucky enough to live fairly close to the welsh borders, and so the beautiful town of Hay-on-Wye isn’t too far from my neck of the woods. I have been visiting ever since I was a little girl, and although I have always loved it, I have grown especially fond of it the older I have gotten, as I feel I can now appreciate it’s character a lot more.
Hay lies right on the welsh border, so half of it is in England, and half in Wales. It is overshadowed by the rolling black mountains that span for miles behind the sleepy town, and create a stunning backdrop. It’s a quiet little place, rural and rather off he beaten track, but still manages to have a eclectic, edgy vibe. It is famously nicknamed ‘the town of books’, but to its multitude of second hand book stores. The literary element to this town was brought about by Richard Booth, who founded the infamous Richard Booth’s Bookshop , arguably the biggest and best secondhand bookshop in Hay. As well as selling thousands of secondhand books from every genre you could imagine, there is also a cafe and a cinema, so it really is a whole literary based empire. Booth nicknamed himself ‘The King of Hay”, and the lawns in front his castle in the centre of Hay are a lovely place to have a picnic. As well as having a veritable feast of bookshops, Hay also hosts the annual literary Hay Festival, where 2 weeks are dedicated to showcasing the best literary talent from around the globe, with talks from authors, producers, comedians, musicians and many more. For those two weeks Hay becomes a heaving, bustling hub of culture and inspiration, and so a visit to the festival, if you can, is certainly worth the trip.
As well as having its feet firmly rooted in the literary world, Hay is also a celebration of independence. Aside from the endless charity shops, there are hardly any chain shops at all, and instead, in their place are many independently run cafes, shops and art galleries. One of my all time favourite cafes is Shepherds , a family run sheep’s milk ice-cream shop, which is absolutely delicious. The flavours are constantly rotating, but some of my past favourites have been pistachio, cherry yoghurt and chocolate peanut butter – It’s definitely worth every penny.
The river Wye runs along the bottom of Hay, and there are many places in the surrounding areas that do cone trips down the river and not Hay, which are great fun, especially on a hot summer’s day. As well as the town itself, there is much stunning countryside to explore nearby. One of my favourite walks is up Hay Bluff, a mountain just above Hay, which has breathtaking views of the Herefordshire and Welsh countryside.
I recently took my boyfriend who is a Londoner born and bred to this part of the world, and he was genuinely blown away by the beauty of the countryside. So if you fancy an escape from the hustle and bustle of city life, try a trip to Hay, I promise it won’t disappoint.
Thank you for Reading.