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Hay on Wye,  a world of books

The little town of Hay (from the Norman French Haie - hedge or enclosure) on the banks of the River Wye is worth a visit even if you are not looking for old books. This is one of the few places in Britain comparatively untouched by the 20th century. Motor traffic is low since most visitors park on the outskirts and enjoy walking the narrow streets and exploring the ancient architecture. Practically every shop is devoted to books and I've found the proprietors to be friendly and helpful. You don't have to be looking for rare first editions, there are plenty of shops where you can pick up reasonably priced modern books. The slightly ruinous Hay Castle dominates the town and has a large old book department of its own. The town also boasts some interesting antique and print shops. 

Hay has a Literature Festival each summer, where the big hitters of British Letters (and sundry entertainers and musicians) come to talk to their admirers and to do their own book shopping. Hay on Wye is in South East Wales, not too far from Abergavenny and is an easy drive from Hereford, across the border in England. The nearest rail station is in Hereford (0)1452 529501 and there is an irregular bus service to Hay from the Hereford Bus Station (0)1432 356204. 

The Hay Tourist Office is on (0)1497 820144. This office is open from 11:00 to 4:00 between November and April, and in the summer from 10:00 to 5:00. 

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