If you’ve visited the towns of Wales that border England such as Brecon, near the Black mountains, you’ll know that this area is fantastic for those who love outdoor activities. You can hire mountain bikes, canoe down the river Wye, go horseriding, climbing and abseiling at one of the numerous outdoor activity centres, not to mention the wonderful walking around the area.
What’s a little more surprising to find such a cultural hub in the small town of Hay-on-Wye that we visited recently. Hay-on-Wye has all the charms of an old border town. The old stone shops and market place, the old mansion on the hill, the pleasant inns and the galleries and gift shops. But what Hay-on-Wye is really known for is books. In fact, it brands itself as being the Town of Books.
In the 1960s, the first second hand book shop opened in Hay-on-Wye, and now the town has 30 bookshops selling mainly second hand books, with over a million books on different subjects on sale. An extension to this bookish activity is the Hay Festival of Literature, an annual event every May, where authors, writers, poets gather to talk and hear about literature. In recent years the festival has branched out to include music and entertainment as well as literature, although they always try to have some big name speakers from the world of literature.
Naturally during the festival in May, accomodation gets booked up well ahead, so make sure you pre-book if you’d like to attend. But if you enjoy leafing through old books, or just to visit a very pleasant little town, then visit at any time of year.
Photos by Heatheronhertravels