The annual literary Hay Festival (24 May – 3 June 2018) takes place in Hay-on-Wye, right on the doorstep of the Brecon Beacons National Park, South Wales. Spanning over 500 square miles of serene and secluded countryside, explore the inspiration behind JRR Tolkein’s ‘The Shire’ in the Lord of The Rings….
Where to sleep:
Set in 33 acres of picturesque grounds, Gliffaes Country House Hotel boasts spectacular views over the Black Mountains and River Usk. An iconic establishment in the National Park, the hotel dates back to 1885, offering guests access to its own stretch of river, 19th century arboretum, tennis court and croquet lawn. The 23 bespoke rooms are the perfect base for guests to explore the park and retreat after a day at the Hay Festival.
Where to eat:
Brecon Beacons is renowned for its award winning local produce. Visitors should head to the Black Mountain Smokery for their smoked salmon and to learn about the traditional curing processes. The Welsh Venison Centre provides high-quality fresh meat. Cheese lovers should visit the Blaenafon Cheddar Company to taste distinctive cheddars and goat’s cheese. The River Café, conveniently situated for those hiking the Wye Valley Walk, offers fantastic local food, as does Michelin-starred restaurant, The Walnut Tree Inn, providing guests with signature dishes, including scallops with lentil and coriander sauce.
Where to drink:
The Brecon Beacons is home to Wales’ only whisky producer, Penderyn Distillery. The independent distillery enables visitors to explore the history of single malt whisky-making and view the distilling process first hand. Whisky lovers can sample the produce and purchase a bottle to take away and enjoy at home. Those looking for a tipple in one of the local pubs can head to The Three Horseshoes Inn, boasting an impressive beer garden with outdoor seating arranged in beach huts.
What to do:
The National Park has been recognised as one of only 11 international ‘Dark Sky Reserves’ in the world. Hay Bluff carpark located above Hay-on-Wye offers panoramic views over Powys and Shropshire, as well as fantastic clear skies and the perfect stargazing conditions.
Visitors can take part in a global game of hide-and-seek in the National Park and search for 180 caches. The perfect way to entertain children in the countryside, the caches take walkers across the park, facilitating orienteering and navigation. Walkers simply require a handheld GPS device and access to the geocaching website.
The Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal, the River Wye, the River Usk and Llangorse Lake allow travellers the chance to canoe through rural surroundings and pass quaint Welsh villages. The picturesque stretch of the River Wye from Hay-on-Wye offers canoeists the chance to paddle at a leisurely pace downstream with a collection shuttle service waiting at the other end!
For more information about the Brecon Beacons, visit www.breconbeacons.org
Main image: Welsh Country Magazine