9 October 2008


All our pics of Hay-on-Wye and surrounds can be found here. An approximate map of the day's walk is at the end of this post.

We thought we’d get some info about walks around the area from the tourist information centre, which didn’t open until 10am. What to do, what to do? We wandered around the town a bit more, poking into the couple of bookshops that were open and purchasing . . . a few books – some books from the 24hour honesty bookshop that leans and sprawls around the castle at the top of the hill, some books and maps from one of the other wee shops that opened their doors to the Friday morning mist. My best purchases were some prints from Mostly Maps , including a 1926 lithograph map depicting the area around D’s parents house. We bought that for them as a thank-you present for letting us stay.

We returned our first batch of loot to the B&B, and went to tourist info to get some postcards (which I wrote and thought I’d sent, but I found 4 of them today in my room. I’m really sorry Az, Erin, Jak and my work!) and leaflets on walks. We could only find one local walk, though, photocopied badly and selling for 30p. We bought it and proceeded on our merry way!

It turned out to be a lovely stroll around Hay, through fields as the mist cleared, across the border (a little stream) and back into England, through the little village of Cusop, up and down some un-challenging hills with nice views, and back into Hay as the late morning sun shone down.

We had tea and scones at a recommended tea room, where they served us delicious scones and homemade jam (but despite being part of the tea guild, they gave us Twinings tea bags in a pot – disappointing). Feeling somewhat refreshed, we were lured by the siren call of . . . wait for it . . . MORE BOOKSHOPS, and found ourselves being bullied into handing over our lunch money and being forced to carry another bag of tomes back to our B&B. We had promised to not buy TOO many books, although I’m sure anyone who knows us at all is saying “Yeah, right!” about now!

DB took the horrid books back and I got us a picnic lunch from a yummy deli. We took the lunch with us for a wee stroll along the River Wye, following Offa’s Dyke Path (our old friend). It was lovely under the trees in the dappled shade, and lunch was good. I forced DB a bit further, and on the way back the river just looked so inviting I had to go for a paddle. Technically I’m sure we weren’t on a right of way at the time, but I didn’t really care. I just had to put my feet in the water. The paddling only lasted about 2 minutes, though, because it was FREEZING!

Back in Hay-on-Wye we were forced into yet more bookshops (there really are a lot of them, you know!) and again had our money replaced with a bag of BOOKS. What is with that!? We were pretty tired out, so we went back to the B&B for a short kip. Here are two books we DIDN'T get.

I really, really wanted to see the sunset from the hills to the north-west of Hay, and D was really kind and drove us all around (through Clyro and Painscastle), down the narrow roads wedged between hedges, turning and stopping for photos in farm gateways, stopping occasionally in the middle of a tiny lane so I could admire the view.

It was utterly spectacular – the light was honeyed and gorgeous and you could see the Black Mountains and Brecon Beacons national park melting towards the horizon, while in the foreground white sheep grazed in pocket handkerchief parcels of green, and the hills scooped and swept away on every side. It was so, so beautiful, and my eyes started to almost ache from looking so long at it!

If we hadn’t been hungry, I think we would have ended the day with the sunset, but instead we dropped into the local Indian restaurant for some rather forgettable food and a slightly more memorable wonky table of doom (we managed not to spill EVERY dish). Being there really reminded me of the extreme whiteness of the town – and most UK villages I’ve been to in general. It makes me a bit uncomfortable, that kind of hegemony.

And that was our day in Hay-on-Wye. We did a little less walking and a little more book buying than we intended, but it was lovely and satisfying, and I highly recommend it to anyone with an interest in either of those activities!

Our approximate route through the day:


  1. now i want a book about owl babies and it's ALL YOUR FAULT. ;p

    have a safe and uneventful trip home, guys. <3

  2. thanks! we did.

    also, OWL BABIES!!! glee!