FIVE OF THE BEST AT THE HAY BIKE FEST

The Hay Bike Festival kicks off tomorrow!  But don’t worry there are still places available on all kinds of rides for all ages and abilities; whether it’s mountain biking, road rides or leisure rides.

Mobile track

Mobile track

Don’t forget the workshops and events taking place at Drovers Cycles and Hay Castle throughout the weekend. There’s so much going on so grab your helmet and roll on down!

MTB RIDES

1. The Afanc’s Revenge – Sunday 27th April – 10.00-14.00
One of the rides with the most variety – curving roads around Troed mixed in with some twists and turns then a couple of steep climbs overlooking Llangorse Lake, where the mythical Welsh serpent beast the Afanc supposedly resides! The route ends with a rocky descent, then a sudden huge climb past Waun Fach followed by (thankfully) a fun roll down back to the road. (£15.00)

NeilPryde Zephyr put through its paces

NeilPryde Zephyr put through its paces

ROAD RIDES 

2. The Hay Hurtle – Saturday 26th April – 16.00
This 13km race starts at Hay Castle where solo riders will set off at short intervals to make it back to Hay in the fastest time. Everyone is invited to try it even if it’s their first time riding against the clock. (£5.00)


3. Twm Tobacco’s Grave – Saturday 26th April – 11:00-13.00
Participants will traverse this vast terrain along the Llanbedr and Llandeilo hills to the important geological site of Aberedw, passing by the grave of Twm Tobacco. The story goes that Twm was supposedly a trader who fell on the moors, or perhaps a felon hanged for his crimes… (£15.00)

LEISURE RIDES

sunset slalom

sunset slalom

4. A trip into Cider Country – Friday 25th April – 13.30-18.00
This 65km route passes the border to Bredwardine where the River Wye crosses, following gentle country lanes to the black and white village of Weobley. Participants will stop at Dunkertons Cider Mill for a few samples, then through more picturesque villages via Clifford and back to Hay. (£6.00)

5. A taste of the High Life – Sunday 27th April – 08.00
This ‘Sportive’ ( a non-competitive, mass-participation cycling event) will set off from Hay on a signposted route taking riders up to the Radnorshire hills to enjoy panoramic views of the Black Mountains and Brecon Beacons. Then follow the beautiful River Wye to Glasbury and finish back in Hay. (£15.00)

Oh, and if you’re looking to venture further afield, don’t miss the All Aboard the Elan Express which takes on Mid Wales in a day with a fantastic 80km route! (£10.00)

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It’s World Earth Day!

To celebrate our wonderful green paradise that is the Brecon Beacons here’s our guide to going eco in the National Park.

1. To start: leave the car behind
Arrive into Abergavenny train station, ‘the gateway to Wales’, and jump on one of the buses to take you into the heart of the mountains.

Or venture into the National Park on the T4 bus that travels all the way through a wonderfully scenic route from Newtown to Llandrindod Wells, Builth Wells, Talgarth, Brecon, Merthyr and the capital of Cardiff!

Twizzy's in the Beacons © By Brecon Beacons Holiday Cottages

Twizzy’s in the Beacons © By Brecon Beacons Holiday Cottages

2. Travel with Tomos
Brecon Beacons Holiday Cottages rent out Tomos, their little electric car which is part of the Eco Travel Network. The greenest way to explore the greenery with the ultimate low-carbon vehicle!

Read more about the story behind Tomos the Twizy here

3. Sleep eco in Camp Cynrig
Each tipi on this ‘glampsite’ has an indoor fire pit, a small gas stove and are fully equipped, well-lit, ventilated and cosy. The tipi is a great way to enjoy simplicity and experience living closely with nature.

Llys Lodge

Llys Lodge

Llys Lodge
This 5 star house will interest anyone interested in architecture or eco-living. With its swooping curve structure and solar panels, ground source heat and sheep wool insulation, it’s a very special place to stay.

Beech Tree Eco Lodges
These stunning eco lodges are a great choice for a bit of guilt-free luxury with a shared hot tub, but everything is as green as it gets. Located on a 300 acre organic farm, the property boasts a biomass wood fires boiler, solar panels and a heat recovery system.

Talgarth Mill ©

Talgarth Mill ©

4. Shop local, eat local
Although there are supermarkets accessible by car, why bother? With great little high streets in Crickhowell and Brecon you need not burn your fuel to get some great produce.

Take water-powered Talgarth Mill for four, Black Mountain Smokery for sustainable salmon or the Welsh Venison Centre for some fantastic local meat…

But don’t take our word for it – watch the shopping guide to ‘Totally Locally Crickhowell’ here for more ideas.

5. Two wheels instead of four
Of course the best way to enjoy the National Park is by bike! With stunning scenery all around, it seems a shame to just zip past pumping out pollution as you go.

Hay Bike Fest Logo

Hay Bike Fest Logo

The Brecon Beacons is one of the safest and most scenic places to cycle, here are some ideas from the local experts if you fancy leaving the car behind completely. Go on, we dare you, you’ll never know what you’re missing!

Did we mention the Hay Bike Festival takes place this weekend?

Oh, and don’t forget to stick to our paths and pick up your litter! You could even join Good Day Out to ‘Spring Clean the Countryside’ in aid of Keep Wales Tidy.

Let’s keep our greenery green!

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 Bike Route of the Week: Talgarth Mill

Here’s a bike ride guide for a nice route through the Black Mountains in the eastern part of the Brecon Beacons written by cycling expert Rob Eveleigh from Drover Holidays.  

This a perfect ride to warm up for the Hay Bike Festival.

Family bike rides in the Brecon Beacons

Family bike rides in the Brecon Beacons

A RIDE TO TALGARTH MILL
Today’s ride is a simple 14-miles round-trip, along gentle, undulating country lanes from Hay-on-Wye to Talgarth and it’s restored 18th Century flour mill.

DISTANCE – 22km (14 miles)
START POINT – Drover Cycles bike shop
GRID REFERENCE – SO 229 419
MAPS – OS Explorer OL13.

DESCRIPTION:
This is a great out-and-back ride for families, without too much left and right to confuse the little ones and nothing serious in the way of climbs.

The start point is world famous Hay-on-Wye on the edge of the Brecon Beacons National Park – and the route takes in quiet country lanes through villages in the foothills of the Black Mountains.

If you do need to chivvy the kids along, there’s the promise of something to satisfy sweet teeth and the chance to see Talgarth’s wonderful restored flour mill in action at the mid-point.

Hay-on- Wye by Visit Wales ©

Hay-on- Wye by Visit Wales ©

PARKING:
There is limited free parking at the Drover Cycles, otherwise Hay’s main, pay-and-display car park is located on Oxford Road.

THE ROUTE:
1. Turn right out of the shop gates and left at the end of Forest Road.
2. Follow the B4350 Brecon road out of town, passing the Hay’s fire station, play park and then fields on your left.
3. At the obvious layby, turn left – signposted to Llanigon – on National Cycle Network (NCN) route 42.
4. Head straight on  for 2.5miles, through Llanigon and Fforddlas, to crossroads where NCN routes 42 and 8 meet, and continue straight on again, now on NCN route 8 towards Talgarth.
5. Turn left at the junction with the A4078 on to the adjoining cyclepath and follow it to Talgarth where you’ll find the town’s restored 18th Century mill, powered by the River Ellywe.

Hay-on-Wye the perfect place to start. Visit Wales ©

Hay-on-Wye the perfect place to start. Visit Wales ©

Stop here for refreshments at the bakery and cafe, take a guided tour of the mill’s inner workings or have a stroll in its gardens before reversing the route for the home-bound leg.

Drover Cycles have a huge fleet of hire bikes covering road, leisure and  mountain biking, and their sister company Drover Holidays has a range of cycling breaks from 2-day getaways to 10-day tours.

Visit Drover Cycles’ website at www.drovercycles.co.uk for info on bike hire, including some special family rates, or check out their cycle tours at www.droverholidays.co.uk.

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National Pet Month: Perfect Places for your Pooch

Polly the springer from www.breconcottages.com ©

Polly the springer from Brecon Beacons Holiday Cottages http://www.breconcottages.com ©

Brecon Beacons HolidAy cottages

This month is National Pet Month so it’s time to celebrate the Brecon Beacons which is heaven for our four-legged friends to run around in. For this reason we will be publishing a series of blogs giving tips for dog owners in the National Park; the best walks, activities and pet-friendly places to eat and stay!

Sometimes finding somewhere suitable for all members of the family to settle down for the night can be a problem. So here are the most pet-friendly properties in our national park so your furry companions don’t have to miss out on the holiday fun…

– Dog sitting at Basel Cottage, Llandovery –
This farmhouse is surrounded by 17 acres of wonderful views and woods to explore. Feel free to bring along two dogs in case one would get lonely and owners are more than happy to “dog sit” too!

– A ‘Quizzer’ haven, Abergavenny–
Seeing as the cottage itself actually sounds like a dog name, it’s no surprise that this property is great for pups. Hidden down a quiet lane guests have the luxury of being close to town without worrying about the traffic.

QUIZZER

A perfect spot for a dog from http://www.breconcottages.com

— Man’s best friend at Craig Y Nos Castle –
This B&B is just made for dogs! The whole place is dedicated to the happiness of the owner’s pet and reviews seem to have even been written by a pooch… There’s a river and lake to swim in, gardens and 11 acres of land to run around in and even a dog swimming poolThey are even happy to host dog weddings… Barking mad!

– Pup play at Maes-y-Berllan, Brecon –
This cottage is perfect for those who won’t have to worry about their dogs escaping to chase sheep. With a south facing walled garden, family and friends can enjoy a BBQ whilst the dog(s) can roam free.

Massey at the Felin Fach Griffin Inn!

Massey at the Felin Fach Griffin Inn!

– No dog gets left behind at Felin Fach Griffin –
Here dogs are invited to stay in bedrooms and stroll around the bar. They can even join guests under the table in the tack room if they so wish to wait patiently for a doggy bag or two. We’re sure Max, the resident dog, would love a playmate…

Remember to watch this space for more doggy blogs… Sign up on our homepage to make sure you don’t miss any!

Click here for suggestions on the best dog walks in the Brecon Beacons, or a wonderful walking route.

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Organisers Urges Riders to take Advantage of Special Web Deals!

Organisers of the High Above Hay sportive are urging riders to take advantage of special web prices for the High Above Hay sportive before online booking closes three days ahead of the event.

Hay Bike Fest Logo

Hay Bike Fest Logo

The ride is a gloriously scenic sportive from Hay-on-Wye into South Wales’ Black Mountains and beyond. Meandering through the Welsh borderlands, the route visits the three counties of Powys, Monmouthshire and Herefordshire and takes on the iconic Gospel Pass – the highest paved road in Wales – for a thrilling plummet to the finish line in Hay.

Online booking through British Cycling costs £28 for a challenging 160km figure-of-eight, or £24 for a 105km loop. But web entry closes at midnight on Wednesday April 23rd and booking online is the only way to avoid price hikes for on-the-day entry, when fees will rise to £35 and £30 respectively.

Organiser Anna Heywood said: ‘Pre-booking through British Cycling guarantees you not only the lower entry prices, but also a timing chip. Of course, we’ll still be taking entries on the day, but on a first come, first served basis.’

gospel passBesides the sportive, Hay Bike Fest will feature guided mountain bike and leisure rides, skills sessions and mountain bike orienteering as well as bike maintenance, craft and yoga workshops and a 13km Time Trial – the Hay Hurtle. A fun race – the Sunset Slalom – kicks off the weekend on the Friday evening, with local ales on tap and fresh, stone-baked pizzas. Children are well-catered for with Bikeability instructors, a free-to-ride mountain bike track at the festival hub in the grounds of Hay Castle, and a free kids orienteering event.

The hub expo will also host a massive fleet of demo bikes – courtesy of Hay-based Drover Cycles – including the full range from Neil Pryde, as well as road bikes and tourers from Genesis, and mountain bikes from Pyga and Commencal. Anna added: ‘It doesn’t matter if big distance sportives aren’t your thing, we’ve catered for everyone at Bike Fest. Maybe come and have a go at our ‘taster’ sportive – A Taste of the High Life – or let the kids have a blast on the hub’s mountain bike track while you check out the expo or have drink at the bar.’

Enter High Above Hay here,  but remember online entry ends at midnight, Wednesday April 23rd. The full Bike Fest programme is at www.haycycling.org.

If you found this blog interesting why not check out our Hay to Timbuktu blog that also features events at the Hay Bike Fest.

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Easter Escapades!

With Easter weekend quickly approaching, it’s time to get planning for those 4 days of family fun and surrounding weeks! The Brecon Beacons have some unmissable opportunities to celebrate the holiday and to make the most of the height of Spring.

©Good Day Out

©Good Day Out

Easter Crafts, National Park Visitor Centre – 15th April
Get the creative juices flowing with the kids by decorating Easter eggs and making your own Easter bonnets! The National Park Visitor Centre will be welcoming adults and children for £5 p/p for some Easter weekend preparation on Tuesday 15th April. To guarantee yourself a space call 01874623366

Lambing Experience, Organic Farm – 19th & 26th April
Be an organic farmer for the day at the peak of lambing season! This four hour experience will have you feeding orphaned lambs, collecting your own free range eggs to take home, marking and moving ewes and lambs and hopefully, witness a real live lambing! The £40 for package for adults and £20 for children will include all this and a freshly cooked lunch by your friendly hosts and mentors, Paul and Liz. Book you place here and the Farming Community Network will receive a donation.

Spring Forage & Wild Garlic Bake, Towy Valley – 22nd April

Foraging with Good Day Out ©Will Lewis

Foraging with Good Day Out ©Will Lewis

Wild garlic plants are in their prime during the Spring months so why not learn how to make the most out of them! The 5 hour experience will first lead you for a forage through the local woodlands by award-winning Welsh chef, Margaret Rees. Once you’ve filled your baskets with wild garlic and flowers, it’s back to the kitchen where you will be shown how to make your own soups, sauces and pestos! For £55 p/p you the day will also include a ‘wild garlic tapas’ taster lunch.

Easter Egg Hunt, Cantref Adventure Farm – 18th – 21st April
For an Easter egg hunt with a challenge, the Cantref Adventure Farm will be encouraging kids to gather clues and unlock passwords to retrieve their prize! The hunt will be included in the price of the entry fee into the park, £8.50 p/p so there will be plenty for the whole family to enjoy before and after. Have lunch at the farmhouse cafe, watch the animal shows and get involved with any number of the adventures going on throughout the day.

Outdoors@Hay Easter Camping Festival, Hay-on-Wye – 18th-21st April
Take a camping trip for the entire Easter weekend or just one night, either way you won’t be stuck for things to do during your stay! The festival will include a wide programme of events, walks and other activities including gorge walking and a discovery hunt to complete around the Hay-on-Wye. A nights camping is only £6 p/p but the organisers will be giving one lucky booking the prize of going for free!

©Outdoor@Hay 2014

©Outdoor@Hay 2014

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Brecon Jazz Strolls Back Into Brecon Jazz Programme

Brecon Jazz Festival

Brecon Jazz Festival

With Brecon Jazz 2014 celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, one of the outdoor venues that is synonymous with the festival, the Captain’s Walk is making a comeback with a programme of big band and party music on the Saturday August 9 and Sunday and a special day ticket that allows fans to stroll in an out of the venue throughout the day for just £25. 

This year’s Brecon Jazz features headliners Burt Bacharach, Gregory Porter, Laura Mvula and Loose Tubes and a whole lot more. The Captain’s Walk stage line-up includes Mike Harries Root Doctors who played at the very first Brecon Jazz in 1984, British trombonist Dennis Rollins with his fine Velocity Trio, the Ollie Howell Quintet, European Young Artists’ Jazz Award winner Beats & Pieces Big Band, the 19-strong James Clark’s Lonely Hearts Rugby Clwb, the sounds of South African Jazz from the Township Comets Featuring Pinise Saul, Imperial Kikiristan, the world acclaimed group from the impossible nation of Kikiristan, and Rhythms of the City, the UK’s premier samba percussion group (August 7-10 tickets from breconjazz.com).

Brecon Jazz Festival

Brecon Jazz Festival

Pablo Janczur, director of Brecon Jazz operator Orchard said: “Since we took over in 2012, we’ve been looking for an opportunity to bring back the iconic venue of the Captain’s Walk in the middle of town, where fans and locals can expect a real party atmosphere with some high tempo, high quality music at what we believe is a very reasonable cost. The Captain’s Walk is a venue that particularly local people have always really appreciated, and we want to see them turn out in big numbers to enjoy themselves this year.”

The Captain’s Walk identity dates back to the Napoleonic Wars, when French prisoners incarcerated in the town took their exercise there. By day it is now a car park, but on one weekend in August it will be the liveliest place in town.

Brecon Jazz 2014 tickets are available on breconjazz.com

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