HAY-ON -WYE, POWYS
This one time sleepy town that sits by the River Wye is now a major attraction and has visitors from all corners of the world.
Hay-on-Wye (Welsh - Y Gelli) is situated between Hereford and Brecon and can be reached via the A438 road.
It is unusual in that the town has two administrative authorities, for part of the town that is called Cusop is covered by Herefordshire and the other part which has the natural border formed by the river within the county of Powys, Wales.
Offa's Dyke runs through the town, which in medieval times was walled and was a place of some importance with a Castle in a strategic position.
This was built early in the 12th century but was burnt down in 1216 AD; rebuilt in mid13th century there was further destruction during and after the civil war.
The legend of the castle survives this was that Matilda (Maud or Moll) Walbee a Giantess built the castle in one night and that she could hurl a boulder for a distance of more than a mile.
Little of the castle now remains but an even greater legend can now be written - That is the legacy of Richard Booth.
Richard George William Pitt Booth was born in September 1938 an Oxford graduate.
He started selling books in 1961 at the old Fire Station from here he expanded into the disused cinema and Victorian Workhouse.
It was in 1961 also that he purchased the Castle, which was an absolute ruin
In 1977 he declared independence for Hay-on-Wye and himself as King, appointing his horse as Prime minister.
He issued Passports, Car Stickers, sold Dukedoms, Earldoms, and Baronetcies.
Some people at the time considered these actions to be those of an eccentric.
They couldn't have been more wrong it was a masterpiece in marketing- the town is now a the Mecca of the literary world,
Attracting notables from different walks of life to the annual literary festival such as -
Ken Dodd, Lauren Bacall, John Fowles, Sir Dirk Bogard, Jackie Collins, Sue Townsend, John Mortimer, Michael Palin, Eddie Izzard, President Bill Clinton, Vice President Al Gore, Gordon Brown and
poets James Fenton, Seamus Heaney.
Within the town bookshops are in abundance, there are some 30 major retailers selling new and second hand books and others that also carry a general stock.
To those interested in literature of any kind Hay is the place to find books of that will meet their requirements.
It is possible to browse without any sort of pressure, there are open stalls
of books at which honesty boxes are positioned.
Tourists are well catered for; old worlde pubs, coffee shops and hotels provide refreshments at reasonable prices.
Accommodation is to be found in B&B’s, Hotels and Inns
The oldest of the pubs is the ' Three Tuns’, which is in Broad Street.
With its origins in the 16th century the building still has its horse-mounting block outside. Unfortunately the property suffered a devastating fire in 2005 it is now scheduled to re-open on July 25th.
The church of St.Mary stands on the Western side of Hay and is close to the river Wye.
Constructed in the 12th century it was neglected over many years several attempts were made to improve the building with it being almost rebuilt in
1834 further work was carried out in 1866 -67, features include a Victorian gallery and pulpit.
With its riverside situation Hay attracts canoeists (not powered boats)
Anglers are welcome but should check with local bylaws before attempting to fish.
There are a number of Camping and Caravan sites in the area a list of these can be obtained from www.royalforestofdean.info tourist information page.
For walkers there is a most pleasant walk at the riverside, this walk was gifted to the town by the former Lord of the Manor, Sir Joseph Bailey in
1884 and is 1.5 miles in distance, there is an access point at Hay bridge.
On the Radnorshire side of the river is the Begwyns, this is an upland moor land area and is described as a place of wild beauty, open to the public but with no set walks.
Pony trekking is also popular in the area and there are pony trekking establishments who cater for riders of varying abilities from novice to expert.
A popular place for Hang -Gliding is Hay Bluff, which can be accessed from a single-track road (with passing places) off the B4350 road.
A car park is situated at the foot of the' bluff ' and is an excellent viewing point of the surrounding countryside.
Cusop is an English Victorian village that lies next to the world-famous book town of Hay-on-Wye