Discovering Hay

Having recently moved to the area I thought I would share with you some of my favourite things that attracted me to South Wales’ quirky, characterful book town, and my experiences and discoveries I have made a long the way.

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Hay Castle

Explore the medieval fortification and 17th-century mansion house of Hay Castle in the towns centre. Originally constructed as part of the Norman invasion of Wales, the castle was designed as a ring work overlooking the historic town in the late 11th century.  Whilst there are plans to restore this part Norman, Jacobean and Victorian castle into a lively cultural space, for now, you can explore its grounds, dive into history, and enjoy the view from the top of the steps- it’s one of the best in Hay!

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Hay Market

Why not have a potter around the vibrant local market, held in Hay’s centre every Thursday 8am to mid afternoon. Trading for over 700 years, this market offers over 40 stalls selling a diverse range of goodies located around the town in Memorial Square, Cheese Market, Butter Market and around the Clock Tower. Whether you love your fresh fruit, meat, fish, bread or cheese, this market is a bustling place for shoppers and foodies! Other stalls sell plants, vintage clothing and beautifully hand made gifts to enjoy. And if you are planning a weekend visit do not miss the Saturday market in the newly renovated Hay Cheese Market!

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Retail Therapy

Whilst Hay is full of many established and renowned vintage and second-hand boutiques, The End shop and gallery is in a league of its own, packed full with unusual objects, textiles and antiques for every budget! Whether you are an interested buyer or not, the owner Marina Rendle is a talented curator and stylist and has many stories to share! You will find this little gem at 20 Castle Street.

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Restaurants and Café’s –Hay’s food scene

Wining and dining couldn’t be more enjoyable as Hay has a wide variety of delicious cafes, pubs and restaurants to cater for all taste buds! If you have a sweet tooth take a visit to Shepherd’s café and tuck in to their famous ice cream! Made locally with sheep’s milk, there are 16 flavours to choose from everyday. Try some of the unusual seasonal varieties such as damson, lavender and tayberry. With less than 7 per cent fat, there’s no need to feel guilty about ordering an extra scoop or two.

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If fine dining is more your thing, why not try out St John’s Place. This new restaurant does not fail to impress with its traditional British cuisine. Each dish and ingredient is meticulously selected with flavour and presentation in mind by chef Julia Robson. St John’s is open Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings and is a real boost for Hay’s food scene!

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Outdoor activities

If you fancy burning off the calories and taking a break from the food scene, what a more dreamy way to fit in some exercise than to paddle down the Wye! Canoe or kayak your way down the river at Wye Valley Canoes in Glasbury in Hay. This is a particularly idyllic stretch of river, with small beaches along the way to stop off at and take in the views!

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Country Walks

You cannot deny the underlying beauty of Hay’s rural and natural surroundings with the notoriously stunning Brecon Beacons and the Black Mountains located on Hay’s doorstep. If you enjoy a hike, just South of Hay are two striking hills, the Twmpa and Hay Bluff. With these memorable and photogenic views you can see all the way across to Pen-y-Fan: the highest peak of South Wales. You will be on top of the world.

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If the weather does not prevail or if you fancy a gentler walk, take a stroll down to The Warren. This pretty meadow and river beach is accessed by the path beside St Mary’s Church or along the Wye from the bridge. This charming place is the local’s best kept secret! Have a picnic, take a book, skim stones and spot the canoeists glide by.

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Richard’s Booth Workshop

This huge but welcoming space, formerly owned by Richard Booth ‘King of Hay’, has been restored with aesthetic and authenticity by the new owner, making Richard Booth’s one of the most beautiful bookshops in the U.K to visit. Relax, digress, wander and lose yourself to a hugely diverse and wide variety of books. The shop includes a café and a 48-seater cinema!

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The Globe

The Globe at Hay is a much-loved centre of arts, ideas and performance. From live music to quiz nights, debates to DJ sets, comedy to free film screenings, the globe offers a dynamic, active and contemporary arts programme to uplift and vitalize the towns culture scene. On the exterior, the beautiful historic chapel façade remains, but inside visitors are greeted with a fusion of colourful antique furniture and an upbeat café, open 7 days a week serving only the best locally sourced home-cooked food and a good selection of quality tea, coffee, Wye Valley ales, fine wines and delicious cakes! Not to be missed, there is plenty going on with daily events to see and discover for all ages!

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Pubs in and around Hay

Fancying a cool refreshing beverage? Or plenty of delicious homemade pub grub? Look no further; here is all you need to know! When it comes to traditional British country pubs Hay has it so so good!

 

Hay’s town centre

The Blue Boar

The Blue Boar is found in the centre of Hay on the corner of Castle Street. This is a medieval pub and full of character with its wooden beams, dark panels, cosy corners, country chairs and open fire in an Edwardian fireplace. This is the place to be if you’re looking for a chilled out beer with four well-kept ales including a house beer from Hydes, organic bottled cider, and delicious wines by the glass. If you’re feeling hungry why not try out the lunch menu, very traditional and warming pub food for all the family, and don’t hesitate to bring in your dog, everyone’s welcome!

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The Three Tuns

Dating back to the early 16th century, the Three Tuns is the oldest surviving pub and house in Hay on Wye and has a Grade II listing. With its charming and its unique characterful interior and welcoming exterior there is no wonder why this pub attracts so many locals, tourists and even the rich and famous as Jools Holland and Huw Edwards have been known to enjoy a beverage or two! The restaurant is up there with the best pub food around with its menu serving up delicious heart-felt food and locally sourced produce. With its relaxed atmosphere and friendly staff get yourself in there for a pint and some super grub!

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The Old Black Lion

Just around the corner from the Three Tuns is the Old Black Lion Inn. Privately owned and personally managed this 17th Century Inn is situated close to what was known as the Lion Gate, an original entrance into the medieval walled town of Hay-on-Wye. Like many of the pubs in the area, the Old Black Lion certainly too has a colourful history as it alleged that Oliver Cromwell stayed at the Inn whilst the Roundheads besieged Hay Castle. The food is to die for with talented chefs serving a mouth-watering menu every day, using the finest seasonal and local produce to create new specials on a weekly basis. With live music at the weekend, an extensive yet carefully chosen wine list, craft beer, lager, Herefordshire cider and cask ales you are sure to have a great time!

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Clyro

The Baskerville Arms

Nestled in the village of Clyro, North West of Hay this pub is amongst some of the best unspoilt countryside in the UK: the Black Mountains, the Brecon Beacons and Offa’s Dyke path.  Enter into a comfortable, warm and relaxed accommodation with an open wood burner roaring fire where you can enjoy dishes freshly prepared, whilst drinking real ale. If you’re planning a short trip to the expansive naturally beautiful rural area why not stay in one of the rooms available here, fit for families and couples.

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Whitney-on-Wye

The Boat Inn

Slightly North West of Hay is Whitney-on-Wye meaning White Water, a small village full of character and idyllic countryside as the River Wye runs through the area. Here you will find the Boat Inn. With friendly staff, a variety of beer and great pub cuisine with large portion sizes at a great price makes this pub another not to be missed! Enjoy all of this whilst taking in the wonderful and spectacular views at its sits right next to the river! I would recommend this place if you are a canoeist, a dog walker or even just passing by the area looking for superb food and a cold glass of…

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Eardisley

The New Strand and the Tram Inn

Just north of Whitney and south of the centre of Kington you will find the village of Eardisley. The village is part of the ‘Black and white village trail’, having many timber-framed buildings along its high street. Here you will find two public houses, The New Strand and the Tram Inn. The New Strand is the headquarters for the North West Herefordshire Pool League, whilst The New Strand is headquarters to the Hay and District Darts League and the Weobley and District Darts League.  The New Strand is located in the hub of the community in Eardisley, on the ‘Black and White Trail’ of Herefordshire. Whether you’re looking for a place to enjoy a drink or socialise with friends, enjoy some wonderful home cooked and local sourced hearty food or just passing by and new to the area, this family run pub take pride in making this a warm and friendly atmosphere!

Similarly, the Tram Inn located on Church road is a busy and thriving pub with a traditional feel and a friendly efficient service by owners Mark & Kerry. With a beautiful garden, you cannot resist temptation of spending time sipping one of the local ales in the delightful surroundings. Also make sure you try the fantastic local food, this is one of the best pubs for food in the area and their Sunday roast dinner doesn’t get much better! Thoroughly enjoyable!

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Glasbury-on-Wye

The Harp Inn

The Harp Inn is another historic and traditional Country Inn that originates from 1720 and is located in Glasbury, just south west of Hay-on-Wye. With a 3-minute walk from the River Wye and 2 miles from the perimeter of Brecon Beacons National Park, the views are just splendid! Enjoy a range of traditional cask ales from Herefordshire and Wales, or why not try one of the various guest ales from further afield on sale all served in a wood-beamed bar. Don’t hesitate to try their Sunday Roast Dinner, but make sure you book first! And if you are looking for somewhere to stay on your visit I would highly recommend The Harp, with warm cosy rooms, amazing views, excellent location and even a complimentary full cooked breakfast provided!

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