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Although the bookish town of Hay-on-Wye is known for its fabulous collection of independent bookshops, it’s also known for its riverside walks.
The Warren Hay-on-Wye is the perfect place to enjoy some of the beauty that can be found on the English-Welsh border.
It’s just a short walk from the town itself and you’ll be immersed in a peaceful oasis beside the River Wye.
This lush green meadow and its river bend are ideal for walks, a picnic, a quiet place to read, and even swimming on those rare warm sunny days.
I loved my visit here with a picnic, soaking up the sun, and enjoying some peace and quiet. I would highly recommend a visit.
Heres’ a complete guide to The Warren Hay-on-Wye and how to visit!
The history of The Warren
This riverside meadow has been known to locals as The Warren for hundreds of years since the medieval era. This is because it was used as a breeding ground for rabbits which were used for food by the town.
However, it is believed that there have been human settlers here since the Iron Age from modern excavations.
For centuries The Warren has been a popular place for locals to enjoy a picnic or recreation. This was further enhanced by the horse-drawn wagons on the Hay Railway that would run through here during the Victorian era.
You can still find what’s left of this old tramway route on the walk down to the river meadow which is now a public footpath.
In the 1970s there was an interest to convert The Warren into a caravan park for holidaymakers. But, there was strong opposition made by local residents of the town.
They were horrified and didn’t want this gorgeous meadow to be overrun. So, they decided to gather funds to protect the area.
The Hay Warren Trust still protect the meadow to this day and rally for it to remain unchanged.
It’s now a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) mainly due to the wildlife that can be found in the area. Kingfishers, otters, and rabbits are a common sight!
Today, this area is still open to the public to enjoy free of charge and it’s extremely popular amongst locals and tourists alike.
You’ll often find dogs on their daily walk, children swimming in the river, kayaks floating downstream and fishermen hoping for a catch!
How to find The Warren Hay-on-Wye
The Warren is just a short walk from the main town of Hay-on-Wye. It’s quite easy to spot as there are signs for the riverside all over the town!
The easiest way to visit Hay-on-Wye would be to drive. This Book Town is located on the English-Welsh Border in Powys, South Wales.
It’s on the fringes of the Brecon Beacons National Park and so it makes a fantastic addition to any road trip.
Parking options: There is a huge car park that’s located on Oxford Road or you could park in the car park located on Church Street.
Parking in the main car parks provided here is the preferred option. There is limited parking by The Warren as it’s a residential area.
There is a dedicated gravel car park but the road down to it is not ideal for many cars! It’s a bridle path and an ‘off-road’ driving experience. So, drive carefully!
If you’re visiting, it’s far easier to park in the town itself and then walk to The Warren from there.
Walking to The Warren from Hay-on-Wye town
So, once you’ve bought all the books you can handle in the town itself, it’s easy enough to head to The Warren on a short walk. It’s around half a mile and it’s fairly flat.
To head out to the river, firstly head over to Church Street. You’ll be walking by the Blue Boar Pub and Hay Cinema Bookshop will be on your left.
Just before you reach The Swan Hotel, take a right on Swan Bank road and walk past the Church of St Mary’s the Virgin Hay-on-Wye on your right.
You’ll eventually continue on Gipsy Castle Lane, keep walking down this road through the residential estates.
Eventually, you will find a small bridle path on your right that will have a sign pointing you towards The Warren Hay-on-Wye.
Keep following this beaten path down towards the kissing gate and then you’ll enter the meadow. From here, you can then access the river bend and the banks!
Things to do at the Warren Hay-on-Wye
Once you’ve made it here, you can spend some time exploring the area or simply enjoy the peace and quiet!
As it’s so far from the roadside, it’s incredibly serene and you can enjoy a few moments away from the hustle and bustle of the town.
If you were looking for some inspiration or ideas, here are all the things to do at The Warren!
Have a picnic in the meadow
If the weather is fine, there is nothing better than grabbing some sandwiches in the town and heading here for a picnic.
You can sit beside the river banks on the pebbled ‘beach’ or choose your spot on the grass! The views will be fantastic wherever you decide to perch a while.
You’ll be surrounded by the countryside with bird song and it’s tranquil. You could even start reading one of your new books purchased from Hay-on-Wye!
Look out for wildlife
The Warren Hay-on-Wye is a Site of Special Scientific Interest due to all the wonderful wildlife that makes a home here.
Living up to its historic name, you’ll find plenty of rabbits running around and poking their heads out from their burrows.
You can also see otters here by the River Wye and some Kingfishers that are flying around. Along with woodpeckers and red kites, the national bird of Wales!
Go Swimming or Skim Stones
The River Wye runs through this meadow and you’ll find that you’re walking along a river bend.
In the summer months, the river here is very shallow and the current is extremely slow – so it’s the perfect spot to go swimming.
If you head towards the river, you’ll see that there is a small pebble beach on the banks. So, you could pull up some towels and then head into the cool waters if it’s warm.
Or, if the weather is not so nice and the water is high, the river is a great place to skim or skip stones!
If you were looking to do a bit of fishing on your visit, The Warren Fishery is the perfect place to do it. It’s located around a mile from Steeple Pool, below Warren Cottage.
Here, you can try coarse fishing for trout and grayling. You’ll need your valid rod license and the daily charge is only £10.
Head out on a Kayak / Canoe
While I was here, I saw so many Kayakers making the most of the sunny weather!
They were sailing over the currents and riding the waves. Although the water was pretty shallow by this river bend making it a struggle.
Many of the kayakers stopped here to relax a while on the beach before heading out again on the River Wye!
Although it’s not a me, it did look like a lot of fun.
If you fancy trying it for yourself, you can contact Wye Valley canoes here.
Choose a hike!
Hay-on-Wye is home to some of the most beautiful walking trails.
This area is where the Wye Valley Walk and Offa’s Dyke Trail part ways, so you’ll have lots of choices on where you want to head.
There are also routes to the Black Mountains in the Brecon Beacons, Cusop Hill or you can circle back to the Hay Bailey!
Just make sure to bring a good pair of walking shoes as it may get a little mucky.
Click here to see some of the wonderful hikes found in this area.
Looking for more things to do in Hay-on-Wye?
Hay-on-Wye was one of my favourite places to visit in the Brecon Beacons. There is so much to see in this quaint town on the English-Welsh border.
It’s famous for its large collection of independent bookshops, Hay Castle, shopping, and bookish culture!
See some of my travel guides for Hay-on-Wye below:
The best bookshops in Hay-on-Wye
The legacy of Richard Booth, the King of Hay
The Hay Castle 24-hour Bookshop
Read more of my posts on the Brecon Beacons and South Wales!
How to visit the ancient Llanthony Priory
The crooked church of St Martin’s in Cwmyoy
Amazing places to visit in Monmouth
How to find King Arthur’s Cave in Wales
A complete guide for Crickhowell Bridge
How to visit Henrhyd Falls – Batman filming location!