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Hay-on-Wye River and Rail Trail

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Hay-on-Wye River and Rail Trail
Author: clairesharpuk, Published: 09 Aug 2014 Walk rating : Rating:star1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK
Powys, Brecon Beacons
Walk Type: River or lakeside
Hay-on-Wye River and Rail Trail
Length: 2 miles,  Difficulty: boot iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK
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A 2 mile circular walk from the town of Hay-on-Wye in Powys. The route leaves the town to follow a pretty path alongside the River Wye, before returning along a stretch of the former mid-Wales railway. There is lots of wildlife to enjoy along the way, chance for a paddle in the River Wye and a great opportunity to explore the narrow streets of the town which are dotted with bookshops, cafes and antique shops.

The route is relatively flat, with just one steady climb up into the town towards the end. The walk follows a mixture of tarmac pavements, a stone old rail track and a grass riverside path which can get muddy after periods of rain. You will need to negotiate 3 kissing gates along the way. Sheep are sometimes grazed on The Warren so take care with dogs. Approximate time 1 hour.

Hay-on-Wye is located at the north-eastern most tip of the Brecon Beacons National Park, very close to the Welsh-English border in the county of Powys. The walk starts and finishes from the large pay and display car park on Oxford Road alongside the Tourist Information Centre and Craft Centre. Parking is £2 for 4 hours (correct August 2014). Approximate post code HR3 5DG.

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Walk Sections

Start to St Mary's Church
Start to St Mary's Church

Start point: 52.0726 lat, -3.1261 long
End point: 52.0721 lat, -3.1305 long

Walk up the car park back towards the road, passing the craft centre to the left. Turn left along the pavement, passing in front of the craft centre, and then use the zebra crossing to cross the road. Turn left to continue downhill now on the right-hand pavement. You will reach a T-junction with Castle Street/Church Street.

Cross over the road ahead (taking care at this junction) and then turn left along the pavement. Follow the pavement downhill and, immediately before reaching the Swan Hotel, turn right down the side road signed for St Mary’s Church.

You will pass the entrance for the cattle market on the right. Immediately afterwards glance over the stone wall on the right to see the earthwork remains of an old motte and bailey castle, thought to have been built in the 1100s shortly after the Norman invasion. The pavement leads you to the entrance gates of St Mary’s Church.

St Mary's Church to Wye Beach
St Mary's Church to Wye Beach

Start point: 52.0721 lat, -3.1305 long
End point: 52.0758 lat, -3.1371 long

You can visit the church if you wish but, for the walk itself, turn right immediately before the church gates to join the stone path with the church on the left. On the right through the railings you will see a gorge and small stream known as the Loggin Brook. Where the path forks, keep left to pass under the old railway tunnel to reach the riverside path.

Turn left along the riverside path. Follow the stone path passing a pretty cottage on the left and enjoying the views down to the river on the right. Pass through the large kissing gate to enter The Warren meadow. At the fork keep right, following the track downhill, staying on the path closest to the river.

Continue ahead and to join the grass path between hedgerows. In summer this area is ablaze with the pink colour and heady scent of Himalayan Balsam, an invasive weed but quite a spectacle nonetheless. You will emerge out into a large open grass clearing. Keep ahead for a few more paces and then turn right down a small slope to reach a large stone beach area alongside the River Wye – the perfect spot for a paddle.

Wye Beach to Concrete Bridge
Wye Beach to Concrete Bridge

Start point: 52.0758 lat, -3.1371 long
End point: 52.0761 lat, -3.127 long

When you’ve finished enjoying the beach area, walk back up the short slope and then take the obvious track at about 10 o’clock across the clearing which leads you to a parking area. Pass through the kissing gate and walk ahead through the small parking area to join the quiet stone lane ahead.

A little way along follow the track as it bends left and then right to pass between the stone embankments of an old railway bridge. Immediately after this turn left through the gate to join the stone cycle path, formerly part of the mid-Wales railway. The whole of this rail line, including Hay Railway Station, was closed in 1961.

Follow the path for some distance and eventually you will pass a couple of stone benches on the right, the point at which you passed under this old rail line earlier in the walk. Simply keep ahead along the old rail track. Further along the path will lead you under the concrete bridge which carries the main Hay to Clyro road across the river. The railings on the left here give an excellent view point for the river.

Concrete Bridge to End
Concrete Bridge to End

Start point: 52.0761 lat, -3.127 long
End point: 52.073 lat, -3.1261 long

Immediately after the bridge, take the left-hand fork (the one closest to the river). Follow this path past a canoe landing platform on the left and ahead into a gravel parking area. Immediately before the first house on the right, turn right along Wye Ford Road. At the T-junction turn right again, onto Newport Street.

Follow the road ahead which becomes Broad Street and continue until you reach the town’s clock tower on the left. Turn left here and then fork right up the small pedestrian paved street passing between a number of small antiques shops. Hay-on-Wye is known as the town of books and is home to more than 30 bookshops with more than one million books on sale. Turn right at the top and follow the pavement ahead passing the remains of Hay Castle on the left.

The Norman castle here was largely destroyed by Owain Glyndwr in 1402. In the 1660s, a Jacobean mansion was built into the north side of the castle remains. Today the mansion is used as a second-hand bookshop.

Continue past a handful of shops on the left and then turn left up the small alley which is marked with a brown sign for the car park and tourist information. The passageway will lead you back to the zebra crossing directly opposite the car park where the walk began.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2014 by the author clairesharpuk and may not be reproduced without permission.


The information in this guide has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a guide, not a statement of fact. You are advised to check the accuracy of the information provided and should not use this guide for navigational directions nor should you rely on the accuracy of the weather forecast. You are advised to take appropriate clothing, footwear, equipment and navigational materials with you according to the current and possible weather and nature of the terrain. Always follow the country code and follow any additional warnings or instructions that may be available. Some walks may be very strenuous and you are advised to seek medical advice if you have any doubts as to your capability to complete the walk.

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