Monday, May 2, 2011

Hay on Wye

Image treacherously stolen from The Octogon

I have returned from a road trip to Wales with an old friend. We had been discussing going to Hay-on-Wye in Wales for years and finally took the plunge last week.

For those of you not in the know, Hay on Wye is a town of 1,500 people on the border between Powys and Herefordshire which has thirty one bookshops. I haven't been to Heaven, but I'm reasonably sure that it will bear a more than passing resemblance to Hay on Wye. We took the ferry over on Monday night and after an overnight at a Travel Lodge and a detour to HarlechCastle (pictures in another post), managed after a longish drive to get to Hay. Matters were complicated somewhat by the appearance of every road worker currently employed in the United Kingdom being in our way leaning on shovels and generally being an impediment.

Photos of Rest for the Tired, Hay-on-Wye
This photo of Rest for the Tired is courtesy of TripAdvisor

We arrived in Hay and made camp at Rest for the Tired, an extremely friendly B&B run by a lady called Mary, who makes an excellent fried breakfast. The B&B is right over the Book Centre which is well worth a look. We only really had one full day in Hay, so most of it was spent scurrying from book shop to book shop laden with treasures.

I would have to recommend...

- The Book Centre - large military history section and an extensive collection of Ospreys. Also where I picked up a first edition of Donald Featherstones Naval Wargames.

- The Hay Cinema Bookshop - huge selection, very impressive on turn of the century adventure stories and anthologies, military history section not to be sneezed at. I left this shop with many regrets for "...the one I left behind me." They have a wholesale section in an industrial estate on the outskirts of town, though it's not really worth the walk.

- The Addyman's Annex - not as big as HCB, but some finds.

- Hay Castle Books - A bookshop in a castle, what could be finer? Not as comprehensive as the others, but some nice prints and very reasonably priced. I picked up an etching of of Detaille's "La Reve" for a song.

- Booths - Hays largest bookshop. This is quite overwhelming. I was having a look at their military history section and counting myself very lucky, when I realised I was just looking at the "New Aquisitions" section and there were stacks and stacks more to explore.

There were a couple of great finds, which I'll get to in another post.

I'm really quite behind on my posting at the moment, mainly due to having pots of things on at the moment. More tomorrow, Scouts honour!


  1. Sounds like a good trip - I look forward to hearing about the rest of your loot!

  2. I am soooo envious of your trip- book heaven I feel!
    best wishes

  3. Good post - you've reminded that I've been intending to visit Hay on Wye for years, and never have.

    My fave UK book towns that I have visited include Chester and Wigtown (near Dumfries). And then there's Edinburgh, I suppose, but that's not much of a trip from here.

    Thanks for the reminder - I must engineer a trip to H-o-W - am slightly nervous that the recommended B&B will now be booked solid with wargame blog readers...


  4. Ohhh, Hay-on-Wye and Harlech Castle! 2 places that have been on my list of "must visit" for a while now. Maybe the next trip across the "pond", whenever that happens to be.

  5. Gentlemen, it's a magical place. I was very happy with my haul, though even Mrs Kinch thought I had been relatively restrained considering. There are some fantastic bargains to be had and the locals are very friendly. I can also recommend the local cider.

  6. As you say, it sounds fairly close to heaven!

    We have something similar at Clunes ( central Victoria, but it's more of an annual book fair/writers' festival where the small historic township in the Goldfields is turned over to all things literary. Keep meaning to go, but still haven't yet. Maybe it's time to suggest a little road trip to Mrs. Rosbif...

  7. Sounds like a fantastic trip! terribly envious on this end. :-(

    Best Regards,