Crickhowell and Brecon Beacons news
CRICKHOWELL HIGH STREET VOTED BEST HIGH STREET IN UK 2018!
After a 3-month campaign, Crickhowell’s wonderful High Street has been named the ‘Best High Street in UK’ in a UK-wide competition which was organised by the UK government and sponsored by VISA. The result was announced at a ceremony in Lancaster House in London.
The judges noted in particular Crickhowell’s community-led initiatives such as Totally Locally, the brainchild of local bookshop and café owner Emma Corfield-Walters, the CRiC Centre, Corn Exchange and the strong presence of independent retail businesses.
Crickhowell High Street was voted ‘Hero category’ in Wales, Champion High Street of Wales and also won the coveted UK title, seeing off some stiff competition from towns in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland to claim prize money of £15,000 prize, which is to be spent in the local community.
The local Corn Exchange company is asking locals for ideas as to where the money should be spent, with local people submitting ideas which engage the community, improve the shopping experience, protect or enhance the town centre environment or use new technology to increase visitor numbers.
CRICKHOWELL WALKING FESTIVAL
We still have availability for some of the 2019 Crickhowell Walking Festival! Why not come and stay in the barn, discover the Black Mountains, Brecon Beacons and surrounding area during the day and then enjoy the hospitality and excellent cafés and restaurants in Crickhowell in the evenings? Walk, Eat, Drink and sleep well – then repeat!
MERRYFIELDS BARN NOW A FOSSIL FUEL-FREE ECO BARN!
We finally took the plunge last month and replaced the oil boiler with an Air Source Heat Pump. When the barn was built in 2009, we considered installing a ground- or air-source heat pump but went with something we were familiar with. Since then, we have installed solar panels and now we’ve turned off the oil supply tap. The heat pump works really well with the under-floor heating throughout downstairs in the barn and the water is heated by both the solar panels, via a Solar boost unit, and the new heat pump.
MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL OUR GUESTS
We would like to wish all our guests a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year during this festive season. We hope to welcome some of you back to the barn in 2018.
GREEN MAN FESTIVAL VOTED ‘BEST SUMMER FESTIVAL’
Green Man Festival, which takes place near Crickhowell in August each year, has been voted the ‘best festival of the summer’ by BBC 6 music listeners. This year the festival celebrated its 15th anniversary when it took place at Glanusk Estate, just outside Crickhowell, in the Brecon Beacons.
The festival attracts around 20,000 each year and is always sold out. There’s a comedy and film area but the main attractions are usually the musicians and bands who often have a folk connection. In recent years they have included Van Morrison, Robert Plant, Laura Marling and Mercury Prize winning PJ Harvey.
Green Man’s managing director and owner Fiona Stewart said: “We feel honoured and excited to be given this accolade from the BBC 6 Music listeners. Green Man is an independent Powys festival run by a small Powys business and we hope that any success we experience is also a celebration of the outstanding beauty of the region, and the warm, welcoming independent spirit of the people who live here.”
NATIONAL EISTEDDFOD COMES TO ABERGAVENNY
The National Eisteddfod takes place in Abergavenny this year, for the first time in over 100 years. The National Eisteddfod is a celebration of the language and culture of Wales and the festival is held in a different location around Wales each year, alternating between north and south Wales. The Abergavenny event, which takes place between 30th July and 6th August 2016, is expected to attract around 200,000 people to the ‘Gateway of Wales’ and has 250 trade stands and stalls.
The Eisteddfod is regarded as the premier cultural event in the Welsh year and will comprise many competitions involving dance, poetry, music and visual arts. The Welsh language will be heard throughout the week and there will be plenty of opportunities for visitors to learn Welsh, which is not usually heard as often in Abergavenny as many other parts of Wales. We wish all competitors and visitors a wonderful festival.
NEW FAST FIBRE BROADBAND AT MERRYFIELDS BARN
We’re very pleased to announce that from the beginning of 2016, fast, wired, fibre broadband is available at Merryfields Barn. We appreciate that, for many of our guests, this is a necessity rather than a luxury, so we have installed a new wired Internet system which currently achieves download speeds around 20 Mb/s and upload speeds around 7 Mb/s. We hope our guests enjoy this new facility.
CRICKHOWELL LITERARY FESTIVAL
Crickhowell has a new literary festival which runs this year from 3rd to 11th October. The official festival website is www.cricklitfest.co.uk, where you can find details of all the speakers and events, including some writing masterclasses, discussions with authors and poets such as local Owen Sheers and Jasper Fforde, Iris Murdoch specialist Anne Rowe talking about Murdoch’s personal letters – and even a curry night with Welsh rugby broadcaster Eddie Butler and a walk which explores the area of Bruce Chatwin’s On the Black Hill and Owen Sheers’ Resistance. Merryfields Barn is booked for the 2015 festival week but we hope you’ll come and stay during next year’s festival.
NEW VIDEO FOR MERRYFIELDS BARN
The video below was commissioned by Greentraveller Ltd. and Powys County Council and, although the weather on the day of filming was not great, we hope it gives potential guests an idea of the accommodation and location of the barn, and of some of the many things there are to do here.
10.3.2015 LLANGATTOCK RECOGNISED FOR BEING GREEN AND WONDERFUL!
We’re thrilled that earlier this year, Llangattock was listed in The Sunday Times as one of the best 50 places to live in UK and one of Britain’s top 10 greenest communities, mainly as a result of the work of local organisation Llangattock Green Valleys (www.llangattockgreenvalleys.org/about-lgv). The articles state that LGV raised £1m through community share offers to build micro hydro schemes on six local streams, with the first set to start generating this spring, and Llangattock is ‘harnessing the power of the dozens of silvery streams that bounce their way down the surrounding hills’.
2.1.2014 HAPPY NEW YEAR 2014!
Steve and Angie would like to wish a very Happy New Year to all our guests. Since building the property and starting the business about 4 years ago, six parties have been back to the barn at least five times, which we’re thrilled about – perhaps it’s the lovely mountain views, the local walks or the peace and quiet, or glorious Crickhowell on the doorstep, with its many shops, pubs, cafés and art galleries – or could it be Angie’s bara brith? We think there’s something here to suit all preferences, and we’re very pleased that so many of you agree. We hope to see you again in 2014.
17.8.2013 FESTIVALS GALORE IN THE BRECON BEACONS!
Hot on the heels of last weekend’s Brecon Jazz Festival, which brought many well-known jazz greats to the streets of Brecon, including Jools Holland, Acker Bilk and Courtney Pine, this weekend sees a more folky crowd gather at nearby Glanusk Estate for the Green Man Festival.
Only 15 minutes walk from Merryfields Barn, this 3-day event has attracted some up-and-coming names as well as mainstream acts including Van Morrison, Laura Marling, Mumford and Sons and even Robert Plant. The 2013 line-up mixes some old rockers such as John Cale, Patti Smith and Roy Harper with young heartthrobs such as Ben Howard, who wasn’t born when the rockers were in their prime. To find out more, check out the Green Man website http://www.greenman.net/, and if you’re in the area and don’t have a festival to go to, the Brecon Beacons blog has some ideas for you: http://breconbeacons.wordpress.com/2013/08/15/top-five-things-to-do-around-the-green-man-festival/.
30.6.2013 TASTE OF CRICKHOWELL OPEN DAY
When visiting Crickhowell, why not call in at the town’s wonderful tourist information office, or CRiC as it’s known locally? As centre manager Jan Morgan explains on the CRiC website, the tourist office “celebrates all things local – unique, hand made, locally produced are all attributes that CRiC looks for in the expanding range of gifts, products and cards that are now sold alongside a variety of carefully selected books, guides and maps.”
The centre is staffed by enthusiastic and knowledgeable local volunteers and is a fine example of how good an independent tourist centre can be. There are excellent exhibitions of local art and craft in the Oriel gallery above the tourist office including hand crafted pewter jewellery, pin badges and trinkets, balms, soaps and scented candles. The centre also has a café and PCs which can be rented hourly, to browse the internet and pick up emails.
If you’re in Crickhowell on 20th July, CRiC is holding a celebratory day of all things local, when a number of suppliers will be on hand to chat, offer tasters and exhibit their products. Read more about the day and what’s on offer at http://www.visitcrickhowell.co.uk/a-taste-of-crickhowell/.
10.6.2013 CRICKHOWELL ART WEEK
Crickhowell holds regular art events and last week the town had some wonderful art displays on view in local shop windows. The event was an initiative of the Crickhowell Resource and Information Centre and coordinator Suzette Pratten said “It has been wonderful that the town has once again been willing to support us and work with artists to promote their art and the event which stretches from Crickhowell across the Brecon Beacons and Black Mountains to 43 studios, workshops and galleries. Visitors came from far and wide to interact with and buy directly from artists. Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Both the intimacy of the smaller home studios as well as the beautiful shared venues delighted visitors with the quality of art that was abundantly available.”
Artist Lee Wright from Llangattock who is a regular participant in the Crickhowell Open Studios, said that the best comment that he had had all weekend came from a visitor from Cardiff who, when asked what brought him to Crickhowell for the art trail commented, “Well, Crickhowell is known as the St Ives of Wales”.
The Open Studios and Galleries weekend takes place during the Spring Bank Holiday weekend and champions and celebrates local artists and their work. Visitors and locals can explore and enjoy the beautiful Brecon Beacons whilst visiting the studios of some of the area’s exceptional artists.
For more about the event, view http://www.visitcrickhowell.co.uk/crickhowell-st-ives-of-wales/.
1.5.2013 CRICKHOWELL – BRECON BEACONS BUS SERVICE
This year, the Brecon Beacon Bus service will start on Sunday 26th May and will run on Sundays and Bank Holidays through the summer, until 22nd September. The B4 Abergavenny to Brecon route will also call at Tretower Court this year, and there’s a new Brecon town service, which will take passengers to the cathedral, promenade and the canal basin / Brecon theatre.
8.4.2013 CRICKHOWELL – SMALL BUT PERFECTLY FORMED!
In the Herefordshire Life magazine the other day, I came across an article by Martin Woollacott which highlighted the many delights of Crickhowell (http://www.herefordshirelife.co.uk/out-about/places/the_unchanging_quiet_charms_of_crickhowell_powys_1_1632996). “Crickhowell is small but perfectly formed”, it goes. “It has all the elements of an ideal townscape, the kind that a child might spill out of a box. Everything is there, but all on a rather moderate scale…. A scrap of ruined castle at the side of a sports field, the Clarence Assembly Hall with its aspirational red roofed tower, a miniature market building with stone colonnades, an old coaching inn, The Bear, three or four other hostelries, a 14th century church.” Why not come and see for yourself?
25.3.2013 MONMOUTHSHIRE & BRECON CANAL REOPENS
The Monmouthshire & Brecon canal at Llangattock, just down the hill from Merryfields Barn, has been closed throughout the winter months as part of a maintenance programme. However, Glandwr Cymru, the Canal & River Trust in Wales, has now finished these works and we’re pleased to report to guests that this section of canal is now re-open. The footpaths have been resurfaced and the banks strengthened, and from Ffawyddog bridge it seems that the canal is about 25% wider.
The maintenance project, which cost £1.2m, has seen 470 metres of the canal above Llangattock relined, adding to the 180 metres of relining work above the Dardy in 2008. This equates to 6,600m2 in total and the area impounds 5,000m3 of water, equivalent to two Olympic-sized swimming pools!
21.3.2013 CRICKHOWELL AND ABERGAVENNY AMONG TOP 100 PLACES TO LIVE IN UK
Towns were rated by The Sunday Times based on a wide range of criteria including transport links, cultural life, property prices and access to beautiful countryside. Abergavenny clearly benefitted from its annual Food Festival, whereas Crickhowell is described as ‘the Kathmandu of the Brecon Beacons’ – the last supply depot before you set off through the National Park – (well, it’s better than ‘Knightsbrige-on-Usk’!) and has just hosted another very successful Crickhowell Walking Festival.
18.3.2013: CONGRATULATIONS WALES!
Just a quick update to the article below – Wales thrashed England 30-3 to win the Six Nations title, deny England the Grand Slam and send all of Wales into a weekend of partying and celebrations.
10.3.2013: WALES .V. ENGLAND – THE WORLD WILL STOP!
For those visitors to Wales who are not from these parts, Saturday 16th March will see a sporting contest to rival all others – Wales v England, the title-deciding clash of the 2013 Six Nations rugby union championship. Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium will be packed with daffodil-wearing Welsh folk, cheering on their red-shirted heros against the might of the white-shirted invaders. Don’t think about a quiet pint in a Cardiff pub or a gentle shopping trip before or after the game – whatever the result, there will be much drinking, singing and good-natured banter. As an Englishman who married a Welsh woman, has lived in Wales for 20 years and has one child born in each country, I can’t wait for the 5pm kick-off! Wales need to win by at least 8 points to take the title from England.
1.3.2013: HAPPY ST. DAVID’S DAY!
We would like to wish a very Happy St. David’s Day to all our guests. Saint David’s Day is the feast day of Saint David, the patron saint of Wales, and falls on the 1st of March each year. It marks the death of the Welsh bishop of Menevia during the 6th century (he is meant to have died in 589). Welsh school children put on traditional dress (long dresses for the girls, often flat caps and, these days, red rugby shirts for the boys) on the day and wear daffodils or leeks in their lapels.
21.2.2013: RHOSSILI BAY IN GOWER, SOUTH WALES, VOTED 3RD BEST IN EUROPE
Rhossili Bay on the Gower peninsula has been voted third best European beach in a survey of TripAdvisor tourists worldwide (it was beaten by Rabbit Beach in Sicily and Playa de las Catedrales in Galicia).
Rhossili Bay is a fabulous 3-mile stretch of white sand in an area designated as the first Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in the UK. Two small islands Worm’s Head and Burry Holms are at the ends of the beach and there’s an 1850s house, the Old Rectory (now owned by the National Trust)and a ship wreck, which can be seen on the sand at low tide.
The beach is about 90-minutes’ drive from Merryfields Barn, but a great option for guests who have small children and fancy some sea and sand for a day.
19.2.2013: BRECON BEACONS AWARDED DARK SKIES RESERVE STATUS
The Brecon Beacons National Park has just become only the fifth area in the world to be granted the prestigious International Dark Sky Reserve status.
The park is Wales’ first International Dark Sky Reserve and the Brecon Beacons could benefit from a boost in tourism as star gazers come to the region. The accreditation is awarded by the USA-based International Dark Sky Association which recognises areas with exceptional or distinguished quality of starry nights and nocturnal environment specifically protected for scientific, natural, educational, cultural, heritage or public enjoyment.
Light pollution is increasing and eroding the view of the night sky, and fewer people are able to see the Milky Way from their back gardens. Light at night is also bad for animals and human health, as well as a waste of energy. The associaition noted that the best views of the night sky come from places such as the Brecon Beacons, “who have dedicated themselves to protecting and restoring the night sky for all to enjoy”.
15.2.2013: DOG-FRIENDLY ACCOMMODATION IN BRECON BEACONS
Merryfields Barn provides dog-friendly accommodation near Crickhowell, in the Brecon Beacons, and we’re pleased that many of our guests bring their pets with them (we don’t generally accept cats but don’t charge extra for dogs). Indeed, with a limestone floor throughout downstairs and no carpets, Merrfyields Barn is ideally suited as a dog-friendly cottage. We realise that some potential guests may be put off booking the barn if they think dogs have been inside, so we don’t allow dogs to go upstairs and we ensure the barn is spotlessly clean before guests arrive. As owners, we hope this suits everyone.
3.2.2013: ABERGAVENNY PRIORY WINS AWARD
The UK Church Monuments Society has announced that St Mary’s Priory in Abergavenny, which is only a 12-minute drive from Merryfields Barn, has won an award for the best guidebook covering its wonderful monuments. St Mary’s in Abergavenny, a former Benedictine priory and the burial place of Marcher Lords, houses the finest collection of medieval funerary sculpture in Wales, as well as several fine post-medieval monuments and a unique Tree of Jesse, carved of wood.
27.1.2013: MOUNTAIN BIKING ENDURANCE EVENT COMES TO CRICKHOWELL
On Saturday 3rd August this year, a major mountain biking event (part of the MTB marathon series with 3 distances – 30Km, 50Km and 78Km) will be taking place in the Black Mountains in the Brecon Beacons National Park, starting at Crickhowell. The event offers significant challenges and a chance to ride in this highly esteemed mountain biking region. For more information, view the mtb-marathon.co.uk website.
24.1.2013: GQT COMING TO CRICKHOWELL!
On 18th February, BBC radio 4 will be recording ‘Gardeners’ Question Time’ in Clarence Hall in Crickhowell. Local gardening enthusiasts will be putting their questions to the GQT panel in the event, which is being hosted by Crickhowell & District Horticultural Society.
21.1.2013: CRICKHOWELL WALKING FESTIVAL UPDATE
This year’s Crickhowell Walking Festival (http://www.crickhowellfestival.com/) will take place during the first 10 days of March and there are still places left on walks at all grades, with the second weekend usually quieter than the first. From 5pm every evening during the Festival you can meet up with fellow walkers at The Hub, in the Britannia Inn in Crickhowell’s High Street. Here you’ll find free WiFi and information about the next day’s walks and you will get a chance to meet some of the walk leaders. There will also be a Car Share forum, so that we can reduce car miles during the Walking Festival. Merryfields Barn still has availability from Friday 8th March – why not come and explore the area by taking part in some of the fabulous local walks?
18.1.2013: BRECON BEACONS VISITOR SURVEY
If you’ve visited the Brecon Beacons recently, the tourist agencies in the region would love to hear what you thought and what can be done to improve the area – and there are prizes to be won! If you take part in the Brecon Beacons visitor survey (www.breconbeaconssurvey.co.uk), you could win a short break including dinner, bed and breakfast for two at the Manor Hotel in Crickhowell.
14.1.2013: CRICKHOWELL AND THE HOBBITS!
Crickhowell is thought to have been the inspiration for Crickhollow, the hobbit village in Tolkein’s books about Middle-earth, and the local tourist office is gearing up for a flood of Tolkein fans visiting the area to find out more. Just down from Merryfields Barn is the Brecon and Monmouthshire Canal, and just off the tow path is a spectacular giant American redwood, which for Tolkein fans has a very Ent-like nose (the Ents, for those not in the know, are characters out of Tolkien’s fantasy world Middle-earth). Tolkein certainly visited Wales, and there are also similarities between the Welsh language and the Elvish language of his books.
13.1.2013: CANAL REFURBISHMENT WORKS
There is an amazing amount of work going on down the road from the barn, to strengthen the banks of Monmouthshire and Brecon canal. The had been rumours of whirlpools, down which water was leaking from the canal, and a couple of years ago there was a major breach a mile or so away from Ffawyddog bridge, near Gilwern. Work has been going on for many weeks and, having drained and dredged the canal in the area, a liner and some wooden formwork has now been laid – we’ll try and include some photos soon, both taken since the start of the new year.
7.1.2013: MILD WEATHER AND MOLE HILLS
It’s been exceptionally mild here in Crickhowell this last week, and the Welsh daffodils have already started poking their bulbed heads through the grass. Mind you, the barn’s resident moles have done their nest to munch their way through anything underground over the Winter, and we’ve been busy moving the piles of good soil they’ve unearthed onto the vegetable patches. One of the apple trees in front of the barn seemed to have its roots gnawed, but I’m not sure if moles eat roots, or just worms. If there are any mole experts out there, please let us know!
27.12.2012: CRICKHOWELL WALKING FESTIVAL
Dates have been confirmed for the 2013 Crickhowell Walking Festival, which is now due to take place from 1st – 10th March. There will be an amzing 88 walks of various grades, all led by local experienced guides. There is something for every level of walker, whether you are happy trekking all day across the tops of the Black Mountains and Brecon Beacons or would rather keep to paths and the lower slopes. Other events include a talk by Captain John Blashford-Snell on his adventurous life, choral, folk and dancing evenings and a range of courses in Map Reading and Navigation – theory and practical.
Ffawyddog, Llangattock, Crickhowell, Powys NP8 1PY
Tel: +44 (0)1873 810013
Contact us by email