Deciding where to spend your hard earned time off can be tricky, but for those of us in the UK with Wales right there, it’s not only an obvious choice, but also a very excellent one.
Following a recent visit, these are, in my humble opinion, 3 of the best activities you should do when visiting Wales. Particularly around the area of Hay-on-Wye, a gorgeous little (world famous!) town of books. It’s located just on the Welsh side of the England/Wales border, very easily accessible via car and super near to the English town of Hereford in fact!
My Instagram reel series ‘Adventures with Mum’ left England for the first time in September in partnership with Visit Wales, and we had a simply wonderful, jam-packed time. Keep reading for our top 3 recommendations if you’re visiting (please note some activities are 18+).
(Check out our full itinerary at the end of the blog)
We started our 48 hour trip by driving straight to Silver Circle Distillery. located on an easy route from where we were driving from on the south coast. The allure of creating our own gin (a spirit we both love) seemed like the obvious choice to get the ball rolling for our lovely trip.
We were welcomed to the distillery located in gorgeous green hills, with a Wye Valley Gin and tonic each. Thanks to the help of Nina (co-owner and gin expert) we created our own gin recipe, with botanicals from the wide array of ingredients on offer, and distilled it all together in a miniature copper still. After some blending, measuring, and bottling, we named our gin “On The Road Again” (which mum wrote expertly on the label).
This is a phrase my mum & dad have both used a lot over the years for our trips and adventures, and it felt particularly poignant as most of the ingredients we chose have meaning and relevance to memories/moments in the family. We opted for a range of things to infuse with the botanicals: Pear, Peach, Mango, Lavender, Dill and Pink Peppercorns! Quite the combination, and absolutely delicious!
After the drive and afternoon hard at work making gin, it was a welcome break arriving at our beautiful accommodation (and a chance for mum to properly sample the gin we had made as she was designated driver for the trip).
Hidden in the trees right beside the River Wye, across the bridge from the town of Hay-on-Wye, sits By The Wye. It is a glamping experience with luxury safari tents elevated in treetop clearings. There are 6 that vary slightly, accommodating between 2 and 6 people. The one we stayed in called ‘River’ is wheelchair accessible, there is another with a glass sided sauna, and some with outdoor bath/shower areas. Each safari tent floats above the woodland floor, with decking looking out over the River Wye which flows beneath your feet, and inside there is a wood burning stove to keep warm. The beds are comfy and softly twinkling fairy lights make it seem absolutely magical. Not only is the place run by a lovely family (really giving it a welcoming atmosphere), it is also all solar powered, and the wooden tent frames and furniture all made using locally sourced sustainable woods.
Something that really hit us was how peaceful it was… Nothing but the sound of the flowing river, and if you look up in the night you can see the expanse of the Bannau Brycheiniog (Brecon Beacons National Park) dark sky reserve glittering overhead.
By the Wye sits amongst 10 acres of mixed ancient native woodland. Part of the wood is a designated site of special scientific interest (SSSI) because of its inhabitants including owls, bats, badgers, newts, dormice and the occasional otter.
Pictures don’t do this place justice, head to my tik tok for a video tour of our gorgeous tent, surrounding area and more info!
This was my first time visiting a vineyard and I absolutely loved it. Sugar Loaf Vineyard sits on green hills and has such a calming feel to it. We had a relaxed self-guided tour through the rows of vines. Thanks to a map we purchased from the shop we knew what was what. We saw lots of bumble bees and butterflies on our wander and enjoyed taking in our surroundings, and basking in the sun and clear blue sky. Following that we sat down in the lovely cafe with views across the vineyard. There we had a wine tasting (we just had to sample the produce of course!), and (vegan) cheese platter: with fresh bread, olives, chutney, crisps & a salad garnish.
All of the wine they make here is vegan-friendly (ie. there are no animal products used in the process). I am v happy to confirm they are all absolutely delicious, too! The rosé wine was the favourite for both of us, so we had to buy a bottle to bring home.
It sounds like a cliché, but I just love the green hills and valleys, the rivers and canals of Wales. Walking in a National Park, driving the country lanes, or gazing at the grandeur of the mountains is a joy. There’s so much history: castles and unexpected chapels, and beautiful ruins like Tintern Abbey. Then the delightful villages and small towns such as Hay-on-Wye, Abergavenny and Talgarth. All with their independent shops, cafes, and restaurants serving delicious local foods and drinks. I’m always so happy visiting Wales.
Hopefully this has inspired you to take a trip to the wonderful country of Wales. If you want to see what else we got up to, take a look at my wrap video on my tik tok, instagram reel, + carousel post of some pics from the trip.
Below is our itinerary of dreams, which was expertly crafted by the Visit Wales team!
Silver Circle Distillery: a working distillery, where you can make your own bottle of gin.
Address: Silver Circle Distillery, Pleasant View Barn, Catbrook NP16 6UL
By the Wye (accommodation): luxury treetop safari tent glamping situated next to the river.
Address: By the Wye Glamping, Riverside Accommodation, Bridge St, Hay-on-Wye, HR3 5RS
Dinner – Tomatitos Tapas: home-cooked food with Spanish inspired flavours. The dishes here were rich and flavoursome, and the staff warm and welcoming.
Address: 38 Lion St, Hay-on-Wye, Hereford HR3 5AA
Breakfast: in the safari tent at By The Wye using items from the breakfast hamper.
Talgarth Mill (morning tour) the only working watermill in the Bannau Brycheiniog (Brecon Beacons) National Park. Learn about the unique grain, the mill, and its surrounding grounds.
Address: The Mill House, The Square, Talgarth, Talgarth Powys LD3 0BW
Lunch – Sugar Loaf Vineyards: a working vineyard where you can have a wine tasting board, and cheese platter.
Address: Dummar Farm, Pentre Ln, Abergavenny NP7 7LA
Drive around Hay Bluff: a drive through country roads, via Capel-y-Ffin on the way. Enjoy exquisite views from Hay Bluff, and make friends with the local inhabitants (horses!) from a safe distance.
Massages at By The Wye by The Soul Shack: wind down with a massage at the hands of the very talented Soul Shack. Available for mobile intuitive massages.
Dinner at Chapters: this restaurant is a fine dining experience that people travel from all over to visit, dedicated to supporting small scale producers & other independent businesses from Hay-on-Wye and the surrounding areas. Creating a sustainable restaurant is at the heart of all of their decision making. And all the dishes are unique, and creative.
Address: Lion St, Hay-on-Wye, Hereford HR3 5AA
Breakfast: in the tent at By The Wye using items from the breakfast hamper.
Explore Hay-on-Wye: spend a few hours exploring the local town: admiring the old buildings, and visiting independent bookshops such as Booth’s Books (named after Richard Booth) , Rose’s Books (specialising in rare children’s books), Murder and Mayhem (for the crime and horror fans), Gay on Wye for books by/for/featuring LGBTQ+ people… Or if you’re more into music, why not check out Haystacks for a huge selection of second hand vinyl.
Hay Castle: a beautiful old castle, part of the Hay Valley landscape for a thousand years, with part Norman, part Jacobean, and part Victorian architecture. It’s been a home to invaders, a patriots’ citadel, a county manor, and even a world-famous bookshop.
Address: Oxford Rd, Hay-on-Wye, Hereford HR3 5DG
Lunch – The Old Electric Shop: a vegetarian cafe with quirky corners full of bric a brac, nik naks, homeware, and of course books. This place made me think of a cave of wonders, with so much to browse. Lovely vibe too!
Address: Y Gelli Chambers, Broad St, Hay-on-Wye, Hay on Wye HR3 5DB
Tintern Abbey: a national icon, standing in roofless splendour on the banks of the River Wye nearly 500 years since its tragic fall from grace. One of the Cadw’s (Tintern Abbey | Cadw (gov.wales) most photographed sites, it’s a gothic masterpiece, and absolutely breathtaking, particularly on a clear day with a blue sky backdrop.
Address: Tintern Abbey, Tintern NP16 6SE
What do you think of these things to do in Wales? Let me know if you visit any of them!
your queer, plus size, vegan pal 💜
a lifestyle blog, with a colourful & alternative edge... Covering: vegan & cruelty-free food / drinks / products, live music / festivals / travel (inc. adventures with mum), and self love & body confidence... to name a few.
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