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Brecknockshire : Hay-on-Wye
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Hay-on-Wye (Welsh; Y Gelli or Y Gelli Gandryll) [1] is a small town (population 1,300) in Mid Wales, on the River Wye, very close to the English border and within the borders of the Brecon Beacons National Park.

A "town of books", with at least 41 separate bookshops (mostly second-hand / antiquarian / collectors), Hay-on-Wye is probably best known as the location of a prestigious annual Hay Festival, sponsored by the Guardian newspaper.


Since 1988, Hay-on-Wye has been the worthy venue for a literary festival which draws over 80,000 bibliophile visitors over 10 days at the end of May / beginning of June, in order to buy books, attend book launches and to see and hear big literary names from all over the world. High profile visitors to the Book Fair have included former US President Bill Clinton.

Get in[edit]

By car[edit]

From London, follow the M4 motorway over the Severn Bridge to Junction 24 (at Newport). Take the A449 and then the A40 to Abergavenny. Stay on the A40 until just after the village of Crickhowell, then turn right onto the A479 to Talgarth. From here take the road sign-posted to Three Cocks & Hay-on- Wye (A4079 end then right onto the A438), on reaching Three Cocks stay on the same road and continue on into Hay (B4350). Alternatively... Take the M40 to the outskirts of Oxford and then the A40 to Cheltenham and onto Gloucester, stay on the A40 around Gloucester and on to Ross-on-Wye. At the Wilton roundabout outside Ross take the A49 to Hereford. After passing through Harewood End take the left turning for Hay-on-Wye (B4348). Stay with the B4348 and follow the sign posts for Hay.

By train[edit]

The nearest train station to Hay-on-Wye for most of the United Kingdom is some 22 miles east at Hereford. For travellers coming from Wales, another nearby stations are at Builth Wells and Llandrindod Wells.

By bus[edit]

Bus service number 39 runs from Hereford via Peterchurch. The journey takes one hour and runs several times a day Monday to Saturday. As of April 2009 the times of departure from Hereford were 8:35, 11:35, 13:35, 15:55 and 17:45 during Saturday [2].

Bus from Hay-on-Wye runs only three times on Sundays. As of April 2009 the bus 39A times of departure were 11:45, 14:35 and 18:05 [3].


  • Hay Castle [4]


  • The Telegraph Hay Festival. A literary festival, which Bill Clinton aptly described as 'The Woodstock for the Mind.' [5] 27 May-6 June 2010.


  • Books, of course! Numerous outlets exist....
  • Hay Deli on Lion Street sells an incredible range of foods and household items. Just up the road from Booths Bookshop.
  • There is a market every Thursday featuring a variety of interesting traders.
  • Eighteen Rabbit at Hay Castle, off Oxford Road - A fair trade shop selling gifts, interiors, jewellery, clothes and toys. In the growing "Castle Cobbles" area of Hay Castle, which also includes The Thoughtful Gardener (garden and home supplies) and The Olde Curiosity Shoppe (antiques, vintage and collectibles).
  • Hay is a Totally Locally town. url=""  edit


The Old Black Lion (on Lion Street naturally enough) does great food and has a good atmosphere.

Tomatitos Tapas Bar on the corner of St John's Place and Brook Street serves traditional Spanish tapas with a wide selection of wine and beers.


  • Rhydspence Inn, Whitney-On-Wye (A438 between Hereford and Brecon. On Welsh Boarder), 01497 831 262, [6]. 11-3 7-11. A 14th Century Country Inn situated on the Welsh border of the Wye Valley, the Rhydspence Inn enjoys magnificent views of the Welsh hills and picturesque Herefordshire countryside. £15.  edit
  • The Swan at Hay, Church Street (middle of town, opposite the Cinema Bookshop), +44 1497 821 188, [7]. A cosy hotel in the middle of town that does seriously good food (the chef trained in France). The garden is *the* place to enjoy a drink or bite to eat in the summer - absolutely beautiful.  edit


Accommodation options abound in and around Hay-on-Wye, though travelers to the annual festival should note that there is a dramatic increase in room rates during this period. Staying in a nearby town is also an option.

Get out[edit]

  • Builth Wells. An historic market town 19km from Hay.
  • Llandrindod Wells. A Victorian spa
  • Swansea and the Gower Peninsular. Wales' maritime city - wonderful beaches and excellent recreational facilities. Swansea is a three hour train journey on the Heart of Wales Line [8] from Llandrindod Wells.

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