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.


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!



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!


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.


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.


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!


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!


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.


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.


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!


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!


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!


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!


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!



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.




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…



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!



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!


Five Adventures in Waiting!

Surely one of the very best parts of Mid-Wales is the outdoor pursuits on offer. There’s loads of fun to be had whether you’re a complete beginner/sofa dweller or Bear Grylls himself!



Llangorse Multi Activity Centre

The Llangorse centre is fantastic for the sheer range of activities on offer. Whilst it is primarily an indoor rock climbing centre with over 1500 square metres of climbing surface, you can also try your hand at caving, zip-lining, rope climbing and much besides.



Black Mountain Activities

Black Mountain Activities is only a short distance from Hay-on-Wye and is a firm favourite for a day out amongst any outdoor types. Children will be in there absolute element, being able to choose between white water rafting, paintballing, raft-building, archery and so on! Check their website for all the different activities on offer and booking information too.



Tregoyd Mountain Riders

Anyone with any interest in horses will jump at the chance to visit Tregoyd Mountain Riders. Based just outside of Hay, you can sign up for half or full days of riding and they cater for all abilities including complete beginners! There’s no better place to explore on horseback than the Welsh marches so why not give it a go, they operate from March through to November each year.



Drover Cycles

Based in Hay itself, the guys at Drover Cycles are simply mad about all things bikes! They are perfectly placed to tell you everything you need to know and set you off on a two-wheeled adventure. They have all sorts of models on offer for hire from mountain bikes to tandems, and three wheelers to ‘e-bikes’.



Leaping Stiles

Walking is probably at the slightly tamer end of outdoor pursuits, but you still can’t deny that Hay and the surrounding area is the place to be for this activity. With the Brecon Beacons and Black Mountains surrounding the town, there’s scope for all abilities and ages. The Leaping Stiles website is a great resource for planning your journey and being a responsible rambler too!

Five of the Most Expensive Holiday Homes to Rent

Surely one of the greatest past times of all is wondering what you would do if you had no financial constraints whatsoever. You bagged the Euromillions, you found out you’re the last remaining relative of a Russian oligarch, or you stumbled across a suitcase stuffed with £50 notes, it doesn’t really matter! One of the first ports of call (on your new super yacht) would most likely be a decent holiday, so for some inspiration, here’s the five most expensive holiday homes your money can buy:



5. Mount Hartman Bay Estate, Grenada and Carriacou

As featured on “The World´s Most Extreme Homes,” the beautiful Mount Hartman Bay Estate rests next to the water´s edge on its own private peninsula looking across the crystal blue waters to Mount Hartman Nature Reserve.

Price: £84,000/week



4. Villa Pamela, Aspen, United States

Villa seems an inaccurate description of this incredible piece of rustic architecture. Overlooking the Aspen Highlands, this 10,000 sq. ft. property features endless luxury amenities as well as having a private waterfall!

Price: £121,000/week



3. The Penthouse, Carlton St. Moritz, Switzerland

Experience the high life at the magnificent Carlton Penthouse located in St. Moritz. It’s difficult to imagine anything better than the waking up to a view like this one!

Price: £141,000/week



2. Chalet Ormelo, Courchevel, France

This slope-side beauty homes up to fifteen for a taste of true luxury.  Predictably, this includes an indoor swimming pool, hot tub, fitness room, and massage room. As if that wasn’t enough, this property comes with a home cinema suite.

Price: £148,000/week



1. Chalet Pearl, Courchevel, France

This is the don of all ski chalets! Expect an indoor pool, spa and gym, high tech audio and video equipment and a perdonal chauffeur. This is all situated only fifty meters from the piste!

Price: £500,000/week


OK, so time to wake up, stop the day dreaming, back to reality. Us mere mortals are most likely never going to earn that much in a lifetime, let alone spend it on a holiday. However, there’s no need to be down about it, there’s some pretty darn good value accommodation here at Small Brook Cottage and we think it’s luxurious in its own quirky way!

A Cottage in Hay – ‘The Project’

As you’ve probably gathered by now, we’re undertaking a bit of a challenge, creating our perfect cottage in Hay. Friends and family, intrigued and curious, keep on asking for updates on our ‘project’. I can’t help but to find the word project slightly terrifying. Maybe it’s from school days, when the year would end with some giant assessment disguised as one. Or perhaps it’s from being glued to the endless reruns of Grand Designs on Channel 4. You know the ones, the happy young couple with the best intentions who end up with a mortgage the size of an Airbus A380 and restraining orders against each other.

Hay Does Vintage

Hay Does Vintage returns for another year. Bigger, more tempting, and even more vintage. Town of Temptation begins June 30th, and is an event not to be missed. 

Hay Does Vintage returns to Hay-on-Wye with an even bigger vintage event, ‘Town of Temptation’ on Sunday 30th June.  This time Hay Does Vintage will be taking place in four separate venues, a marquee in the Market Square, the Buttermarket, St John’s Place and the Parish Hall all within a short walk around Hay.  Jo and Naomi, the founders, are also keen for people to appreciate the huge choice of antique and vintage shops that the town has to offer.  ‘Hay has been quietly building itself a reputation as a centre for vintage excellence for some time and we want to highlight that to a wider audience in a fun and light-hearted way’ says Naomi.

What is offered

Apart from encouraging visitors to wander between the four venues, aided with their ‘Town of Temptation’ map, there will be an interactive fashion show with models in charity sourced vintage clothes styled by Hay Does Vintage intern and local fashion student Lucy Scott.   Like last year, the charity shops will be open on the Sunday and reserving their vintage stock to sell on the day.

Vintage at the Georgian By: Hay Does Vintage Festival Facebook

Vintage at the Georgian By: Hay Does Vintage Festival Facebook

Makeup artist and co-organiser Naomi, of Naomi Emmanuelle Makeup, will be on hand to provide vintage makeovers with others providing vintage inspired hairstyling and manicures in the new ‘Pamper Lounge’ upstairs at St Johns Place.

The Marquee will be host to a large number of returning and new traders and co-organiser Jo’s recently launched‘Travelling Tearoom’ will be there serving homemade cakes and pots of tea in vintage crockery

Next event 1st December. Watch this space.

By |June 28th, 2013|Up Coming Events|Comments Off on Hay Does Vintage


Looking out across the globe field, it seems an odd thought that less than three weeks ago it was abuzz with activity. People sitting, people dancing, people thinking; it was truly a wonderful gathering of people. I was delighted to receive some fantastic feedback from friends and family, all attesting to the success of the festival. Whilst many will rave about the heated debates they witnessed and others will lament about the electrifying band the previous night, one thing crops up time and time again and that’s the atmosphere.

Whilst I don’t think there is any intention behind it, HTLGI seems to somehow mirror the town of Hay itself. All of the wonderful characteristics of our town are just as true of the festival. It’s small but intense; it’s daring yet modest and it’s got quirks and curiosities in abundance. It’s independent, driven by ethics and has a cracking sense of community. One of the key aims of HTLGI is to create a space where big ideas have no boundaries and are not constricted to a programme of events. Whilst this sounds like an unreachable goal, my insatiable habit of eavesdropping discovered results to the contrary. I so enjoyed walking through the site and watching attendees gathered in conversation, gesticulating wildly, challenging each others’ ideas and preconceptions. Whilst I dabbled in the philosophy of it all, the musical treats were definitely my highlight. I spent much of my time at The Stage or The Tea Tent as most of us know it! It meant I was witness to the endless stream of local talent that Hay and the surrounding areas seem to produce. The bar was undoubtedly raised this year with stellar performances each and every day.

The evenings were no different with the likes of Lori Campbell, Sweet Baboo and The Roving Crows all putting on great shows. Somehow the weeks without a day off, the long days without breaks and the constant state of sleep deprivation become perfectly normal by the end of the event. Having been back in reality for a couple of weeks now I can’t help but to miss the crazy times, the people and the ‘something in the air’. Until next year… – See more at:

By |June 28th, 2013|Up Coming Events|Comments Off on HowTheLightBurnedSoBright