Hay Festival search for the 30 best books from the last 30 years

#HAY30BOOKS: 30 recommended books from the last 30 years. 

To celebrate our 30th Hay Festival in Wales (25 May – 4 June), we want to find 30 books from the last 30 years that deserve some more attention.

These #HAY30BOOKS will be discussed and celebrated at Hay Festival Wales, at our festivals around the world – in Mexico, Peru, Spain, Colombia and Denmark – and on our digital channels throughout the year.

It’s a chance to reevaluate, rediscover, and honour the essential reads from the last 30 years across fiction and non-fiction.

It’s a tough ask, so we’ve got it started with our first 15 recommendations. Now, it’s over to you for your suggestions…

How to submit…

Send us your suggestions on Twitter @hayfestival, Facebook /hayfestival, or Instagram @hayfestival tagged #HAY30BOOKS and tell us in 30 words or less why you recommend it. Our favourite submissions will even win some #HAY30 goodies.

Anyone can submit – readers, writers, and publishers from all around the world – we want as many ideas as possible before our final 30 are revealed on the eve of Hay Festival Wales.

#HAY30BOOKS – the list so far:

1. Kid by Simon Armitage (1992)

2. Dr. Tatiana’s Sex Advice to All Creation by Olivia Judson (2002)

3. Chronicles of Ancient Darkness series by Michelle Paver (2004)

4. Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (2006)

5. Finding Violet Park by Jenny Valentine (2007)

6. A Golden Age by Tahmima Anam (2007)

7. The Road Home by Rose Tremain (2007)

8. Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives by David Eagleman (2009)

9. Oblivion: A Memoir by Héctor Abad (2010)

10. How To Train Your Dragon series by Cressida Cowell (2010)

11. The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot by Robert Macfarlane (2012)

12. Far from the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity by Andrew Solomon (2012)

13. Pink Mist by Owen Sheers (2013)

14. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates (2015)

15. Headscarves and Hymens by Mona Eltahawy (2015)

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Spring Walks with Breathtaking Views

The Brecon Beacons come alive during this beautiful season with frolicking lambs, bluebells bursting in the meadows and many reasons to spend the entire day outside. There are so many places to go for a leisurely walk or challenging hike from the notorious Pen y Fan to the stunning Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal…here are some of our top choices…

1.Pen Y Fan

Pen y Fan is 886 metres high – the highest point in southern Britain.  It is a mountain in every sense of the word. Once reaching the summit you will be treated with 360-degree views of the beautiful Brecon Beacons and beyond! Although some people climb it wearing little more than shirts, shorts, and trainers, this is far from ideal as the weather here can change with frightening speed and ferocity. Route here.

2. Castle Woods at Dinefwr Park and Castle, near Llandeilo

The bluebell display at Dinefwr  Park really is a treat for the eyes and nose. Every spring, Castle Woods is carpeted with thousands of beautiful lilac flowers that grow in a race against time before the leaves return to the towering tree canopy, cutting off the sunlight once more.  Learn all about Dinefwr Castle and enjoy some breathtaking views. Click here to find out more.

Image result for dinefwr

Credit: National Trust

3. Aberglasney Gardens

Aberglasney Gardens are fine historical gardens dating from around 1477, renowned for their use or rare and unusual plants the gardens are a favourite of keen plantsmen and plantswomen. Spring sees the Stream Garden and Pigeon House Woods carpeted in Bluebells, Wild Garlic, Early Purple Orchids and Wood Anemones. Click here to find out more.

Aberglasyn woods

 4. Cwm Oergwm Nature Reserve

Cwm Oergwn nature reserve consists of a narrow band of woodland with glades, that extends for almost a mile along the steep eastern bank of the Menasgin stream.  Click here to find out more.Cwm Oergwm bridge cafe

5. Table Mountain

The pinnacle of the Crickhowell to Table Mountain walk features an Iron Age hillfort, alongside panoramic views of the Usk valley and the Black Mountains. Image result for table mountain brecon beacons

 6. Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal

There are so many sights to see walking along the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal. Watch the canal boats glide by, see nature around you and admire the constantly changing landscape.

Related image

Credit: Canal River Trust

7. Llangorse Lake and Bwlch

Bwlch is the home of the now well established Bwlch with Altitude Challenge which takes place every summer and is a 12-mile walk around the lake from Bwlch and Llangorse respectively, contestants enjoy this event seeking out clues and answers to a number of questions set as part of the challenge’s photographic quiz. The communities of Llangorse and Bwlch have developed the new Around Llangorse Lake website to help visitors enjoy this lovely part of the National Park. Check our more awesome walks here.

Image result for bwlch with altitude

Credit: Discover Llangorse and Bwlch

 8. Skirrid 

A gentle stroll around the Holy Mountain during the end of April early May where the westerly slopes are carpeted with bluebells. – Find our more here. 

© Black Mountain Photography

Where to Stay for your visit 

The Brecon Beacons offers a wide range of accommodation to suit all your requirements to make the most of your visit to the National Park! Whether you want to bring your dog along so need pet-friendly accommodation, are bringing your family along or fancied coming with a group of friends there will be somewhere for you!  Plan where you’ll stay here.

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Brecon Women’s Festival is back for it’s sixth year this March!

Brecon Women’s Festival is back for it’s sixth year this March. The Festival is now a hugely popular Spring highlight celebrating the creativity, talents and achievements of women in and around Brecon. Created in 2012 to mark International Women’s Day on Wednesday March 8th the Festival boasts ten days of events starting on Thursday March 2nd 7pm with ‘Small & Sundry’ an exhibition of small works by Sculptor Antonia Spowers at The Hours Cafe & Bookshop on Ship Street. The exhibition runs all month.

Art remains a focus throughout the Festival with the official festival launch taking plDisplaying logo for theatre brochure.jpgace at the Andrew Lamont Gallery at Theatr Brycheiniog on Friday March 3rd at 6pm with the opening of this year’s Women’s Festival Art show curated by Artists Karin Mear and Hilda Benham. The exhibition has become a favourite in the Arts calendar and will this year feature new works by over 30 Brecon-based Women Artists; among them Tessa Waite, Pip Woolf, Velvet Cole, Sue Hiley-Harris and Sophie Cooper as well as Karin and Hilda themselves. The exhibition will be at TB until March 29th.

There will be ‘Knit & Natter’ at the Library on Ship Street, Mask-making at The Muse on Glamorgan Street and participants can also look forward to talks, workshops, music, film and of course the annual Women’s Festival Artisan Craft Market  on Saturday March 4th with a whole array of stalls selling Art, handmade crafts and goods, recipes, plants and much more along with pop-up music and storytelling.

The Hours are especially thrilled to welcome back Poet Ruth Bidgood for a special event at 3pm on Friday March 10th where she will be reading from her latest collection ‘Land Music’.

Brecon Women’s Festival is free and open to everyone (including men!). We do look forward to seeing you this Spring in Brecon..

For further information contact The Hours on thehours@btinternet.com or 01874 622800. The listings are available here and programmes are available at venues now! 


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Things to do this St David’s Day

Visit any where in Wales on March 1st; St David’s  Day and you’ll see children wearing traditional Welsh National costumes or Welsh rugby shirts, wearing bright green leeks and yellow daffodils turned into colourful accessories.

St David’s Day or Dydd Gwŷl Dewi (Sant) Hapus in Welsh is always a special time in Wales, when local communities come together to celebrate the culture and qualities of Wales.    If you live or are visiting the Brecon Beacons today expect to see hear lots of wonderful Welsh choirs and taste lots of delicious locally made foods.


1. David’s Day concert on 1 March. It is event no. 5 in the Crickhowell Walking Festival.

Details are: A Welcome in the Hillside!Clarence Hall, Crickhowell, 7.00pm 1st. March

With folk duo Taith. A Feast of Welsh Songs

Tickets £8.00. Students/U18 free

from www.crickhowellfestival.com; CRiC; Webbs Crickhowell; Abergavenny Music


2. St David’s Day themed Waterfall Walk With Hawk Adventures
Did you know that St David was a vegetarian who ate only bread, herbs and vegetables and who drank only water, and is also known as Aquaticus or Dewi Ddyfrwr (the water drinker) in Welsh. Sometimes, as a self-imposed penance, he would stand up to his neck in a lake of cold water, reciting Scripture. It is also said that milestones during his life were marked by the appearance of springs of water.

We promise not to submerge you in cold water but we are running a St David’s day waterfall walk on the 4 th March where you can take in the wonderful scenery and waterfalls of the Brecon Beacons and learn more about St David and other Welsh legends.

**Hawk Adventures were voted the Best Activity Provider at the Brecon Beacons Tourism Awards in 2016**

Here’s how to contact us:
01558 668878 or info@hawkadevntures.co.uk


3. Come and celebrate with the National Botanic Gardens of Wales on the day of our patron saint. dydd-gwyl-dewi-2017-v2-2-861x1024

It’s FREE entry for all at the National Botanic Garden of Wales on Wednesday March 1st in honour of our patron saint.

St David’s Day is a great time to reacquaint yourself with the Garden after the long, wet winter and enjoy a taste of Welsh culture.  Enjoy a leisurely stroll across the Garden’s acres or take advantage of this excellent opportunity to see the stunning display of daffodils as well as a fantastic array of spring flowers from around the world in the Great Glasshouse.

The Garden is open from 10am until 4.30pm, with last entry at 3.30pm.


4. Indulge in some locally produced food

Buy some great local Welsh foods, with hampers from Black Mountains Smokery  and  Authentically Welsh. Their Crickhowell Cracking Hamper will introduce you to some of Crickhowell’ delicious local artisan foods. Or why not treat yourself on this special day and visit a Welsh pub or restaurant here in the Brecon Beacons that have made the 2016 Michelin Star Guide. Click here to find out who made it!

If you’re looking for somewhere to stay in the Brecon Beacons this March then check out our website for accommodation to suit everyone here!

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A dramatic journey into Fforest Fawr Geopark.


This tough but illuminating route, which takes you to the plateau of Fforest Fawr, involves some walking off marked footpaths. At the end, you’ll know how ice shaped these landscapes and why the Brecon Beacons National Park is home to Wales’s first European Geopark.

Need to know

Length: 6¼ miles (10km)
Time: Around 3–4 hours
Start and finish: Storey Arms, on A470 between Brecon and Merthyr Tydfil
OS map ref: SO 982203
OS map: OL12 Explorer (1: 25 000 series)
Facilities: Car park at Storey Arms. Toilets are located at the next car park, a few hundred metres to the south.

Along the way

Storey Arms
It’s a good starting point, not just for the walk but as an introduction to how glaciation during the last Ice Age – which ended around 10,000 to 12,000 years ago – shaped the Brecon Beacons we see before us today.  You’re at the centre of the last great ice sheet that covered the region. The ice initially melted away around 15,000 years ago, though the high cwms were reoccupied by glaciers for a short-lived cold period around 10,600 years ago. Storey Arms stands in a critical spot at the saddle (or col) between the Tarell valley to the north and Taf valley to the south. Both valleys are glacial troughs with a classic and characteristic U-shape, scoured out by ice around 25,000 years ago, the col representing a former ‘ice-divide’ at the centre of the last glacier.
Fan Fawr
On the northern side of 734m-high Fan Fawr, in a shallow hollow at around 560m, you’ll see a collection of hummocks and ridges. These may reflect the existence of a small glacier or rockfalls that occurred over snow or ice on the flanks of Fan Fawr around 10,600 years ago. Look at the boulders or stones making up these ridges – you may find striations, scratch marks created by the scouring of ice.
Fforest  Fawr
This walk takes you into the area known as Fforest Fawr (The Great Forest), so called not because of its tree cover but to signify its ancient status as a hunting ground. It’s high, wild moorland gives its name to Fforest Fawr Geopark, created in 2005.
Here’s one of the National Park’s most compelling, fascinating features. Although just a stone’s throw from the busy A470, this atmospheric amphitheatre of soaring, craggy cliffs seems a world apart, solitary and self-contained. It’s a National Nature Reserve (NNR) thanks to its fascinating range of arctic-alpine plants. Craig Cerrig-Gleisiad’s dramatic, steep-sided crags and lumpy, bumpy lower slopes were created during the Ice Age when snow that collected in the north-facing slopes eventually turned into a glacier. The scooping and grinding action of the ice carved the 150m-high cliffs, and when the glacier eventually retreated it deposited the debris within it to create what are known as moraines – the mounds and hillocks that are clearly visible in the bowl beneath Craig Cerrig-Gleisiad’s dark crags. Given its genesis and shady, brooding character it’s somehow appropriate that the NNR is famous for its rare arctic-alpine plants such as purple saxifrage and serrated wintergreen. They survive here at or near their southern limit in Britain (and do not reappear again until the Alps), clinging to Craig Cerrig-Gleisiad’s ledges, gullies and crags. Their inaccessibility has also contributed to their survival, so you are asked not to climb the steep crags or screes for a closer view – please bring binoculars.

For a full route description, please click here.

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Walking in the East of the Brecon Beacons National Park-Abergavenny Riverside

The Usk up close.
A gentle and easy-to-access walk along the scenic banks of the river Usk. Along the way, you’ll pass verdant meadows and clear running water, see lots of wildlife – and also get an insight into the history of the gateway town of Abergavenny.

Need to know

Length: Just under 4½ miles (7km)
Time: 1½–2 hours
Start: Pyscodlyn Farm bus stop by Pyscodlyn Farm and Campsite on A40 between Abergavenny and Crickhowell (OS map ref: SO 268156)
Finish: Abergavenny bus station (OS map ref: SO 302140)
There are regular buses from Abergavenny to the starting point on routes X43 and 43
OS map: Explorer OL13 (1:25 000 series)
Facilities: Visitor centre and toilets at Abergavenny bus station, cafés, pubs, shops and railway station in Abergavenny

Along the Way

Castle Meadows
Twitchers will be pleased to learn that this stretch of the river Usk is particularly abundant with birdlife. Colonies of sand martins nest in the river’s sandy banks, providing a dazzling display of high-speed aerobatics as they snap up insects on the wing. Kingfishers can also be spotted regularly, while the winter months give a good chance of seeing goosanders – the males particularly resplendent in their dazzling white plumage with black and green heads.

River Usk
Its headwaters are in the Usk reservoir at the foot of the remote Black Mountain in the west of the Brecon Beacons National Park. It flows for 63 miles (102km) reaching the sea at Newport. For much of its length – especially in its central stretch around Abergavenny – it flows through a beautiful, broad vale framed by the central Brecon Beacons to the west and borderland Black Mountains to the east. Noted for its flora and fauna (and prized by anglers for its salmon and trout fishing), the river is a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

Abergavenny Castle
The town’s ruined castle was founded in the 11th century, growing into an impressive stone-built fortress by the 1300s before being demolished by Charles I in 1645. What remains of the castle is now home to Abergavenny Museum. It’s a centuries-spanning exploration of local history, featuring everything from Roman artefacts to a recreated World War II air raid shelter, a late 19th-century Welsh kitchen to posters advertising The Beatles’ 1963 show at Abergavenny Town Hall. Find out more here.

Llanfoist Bridge
Linking Abergavenny and nearby Llanfoist, this has been an important river crossing since the times of King Henry VI – hence its former name of Tudor Bridge. The seven-arched span has seen significant alterations over the years, notably in the early 19th-century when it was widened to accommodate a tramroad. Stop for some refreshments in the garden of the adjacent Bridge End Inn for a lovely view of the bridge and the gently flowing waters of the Usk.

For a full route description, please click here or view our town guide on Abergavenny here.


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Experience Lambing Live in the Brecon Beacons!

It’s nearly Springtime in the Brecon Beacons! One of the busiest times of the year, farms across Wales will soon be welcoming 100,000’s of new lambs into the world! Join in the excitement and get involved with one of these lambing live events.


Join in the Lambing Festival at Cantref Adventure FarmFebruary Half Term - Lambing Festival

..Springtime is a very busy time of the year for Farmer Ken with fluffy new arrivals being born every day.

Join Farmer Ken in the Lambing Barn and you may be lucky enough to see our cute baby lambs being born?

With so many family favourites; bottle feeding, pony rides and pet handling, make sure Cantref Adventure Farm is on your “To Do” list this February Half Term. Book your tickets here.

Have A Good Day Out-Lambing on an Organic Farm
easter holiday outing wales, lambing day out, lambing experience, feed a pet lamb, lamb brecon beacons

A ‘no holds barred’ day in the life of an organic sheep farmer in the beautiful Brecon Beacons at lambing time. We cannot promise you will witness a lambing but you will be able to help with a range of daily tasks: feeding lambs, bedding down, marking, moving and collecting eggs. You will be free to ask as many questions as you wish and Paul & Liz will be happy to talk about organic farming and their alternative energy initiatives. A tasty homemade lunch is included and then you will be free to walk around the farm to enjoy the stunning views.

Undated vouchers can be bought and then redeemed by the recipients, or please book one of the dates here for 2017.


Watch the Spring Lambs over a slice of cake at Beacons Farm Shop

Spring is a lovely time of year for customers at Beacons Farm Shop to see the spring lambs skipping around the field just opposite.With 400 ewes to lamb in a short few weeks, the farm is a busy place to be. The smells, sights and sounds are unique to this wonderful time of year. You will notice the baby lambs in the field as you drive up towards the shop, be sure to come and see them. Park your car in their large car park and enjoy a lovely spring walk, there are plenty to choose from in the ‘Awesome walks around Llangorse & Bwlch’ booklet.

Also, enjoy a cuppa with a lovely slice of cake in the sunshine or why not try their all-day breakfast! Open all over the bank holiday weekend. Good Friday 9am-5pm, Saturday 9am-5pm, bank holiday Monday 10.30am-5pm. Be sure to call in and find some great Easter specials. Have a lovely Easter from all the Welsh venison centre and Beacons farm shop.

….If you’re visiting the Brecon Beacons by car, make sure you keep your eyes peeled to spot all the lamb-filled fields!lambing experience, brecon, brecon beacons, welsh farming, hill farming, sheep, cheviots, farming, easter gift, easter egg, brecon beacons national park, crai,

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