Sunday, May 06, 2007
HAY-ON-WYE nestles like a jewel in the midst of the tranquil Welsh countryside. Set in the grounds of the Brecon Beacons National Park, on the foothills of the Black Mountains, where mountain sheep graze with the sober diligence of sheep everywhere, Hay-on-Wye is an unlikely lure for a particular type of visitor.
Here's a hint: nearby is Clyro, where Kilvert the Diarist served as curate and described this beautiful area in loving detail. Doesn't ring any bells? How about this then... every year for 10 days in the early summer, 80,000 people from all over the English-speaking world descend upon Hay for a carnival celebration known as the Hay Festival, swamping the tiny town of 1,500 inhabitants and 39 bookstores.
That's right. Literature buffs, get your annotated copies of classics out into the open. No-one here will scoff. For Hay-on-Wye, also known as the Town of Books, lays proud claim to being the largest 'used and antiquarian' bookshop in the world. Shown above is Hay Castle.