Boasting a picturesque riverside setting, Hay-on-Wye is a historic market town on the Welsh-English border that is believed to have been fortified in the 11th century. It has been nicknamed the “Town of Books” due to its abundance of secondhand and specialist bookstores and hosts the literary-focused Hay Festival each year.
Things to do in Hay-on-Wye
In the heart of Hay-on-Wye are the remains of a medieval fortification and 17th-century residence that are collectively known as Hay Castle. It combines Norman, Jacobean and Victorian architectural influences, with a four-storey keep and an arched gateway among its highlights. Surrounding the complex are 19th-century terraced gardens.
A short stroll from Hay Castle is the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, a Grade II-listed building designed in a Gothic Revival style by the English architect Edward Haycock. Its western end is dominated by a square embattled tower, while the interior features stained glass windows depicting the Passion of Christ. Concerts are held within the church as part of the annual Hay Festival.
Hay-on-Wye lies at the northeasterly tip of Brecon Beacons National Park, a ruggedly scenic area that encompasses the Fforest Fawr UNESCO Global Geopark. Numerous hiking routes traverse its grassy moorlands and sandstone escarpments and it boasts some of the best mountain biking trails in Wales. Due to Brecon Beacons’ exceptional stargazing, the area has been designated as an International Dark Sky Reserve.
Getting around Hay-on-Wye
Hay-on-Wye is just over an hour’s drive from Worcester and two hours from Birmingham. Birmingham Airport is just under two hours away and has flights to destinations across the globe. Regular buses connect to Hay-on-Wye and the town is compact enough to explore on foot.