It’s not clear whether it would be quicker to walk or to canoe to Hay-on-Wye. Both are possible from Racquety Farm and, just a few hundred metres from the edge of town, it takes a matter of minutes until you’re perched on a chair outside a tea shop, cuppa in hand, watching the world go by. As campsites go, few can manage such a supreme combination of tourist-town proximity and remote, countryside feel. Pitch your tent beside the bushy hedgerows and you seem hidden in the verdant Welsh wilderness. Walk across the meadows into town, however, and you’re suddenly in the bustling hive that is Hay-on-Wye in summertime.
Racquety Farm is quite an enterprise. A mix of woodland, orchards, organic crops and grazed pastures, the farm is situated directly on the banks of the River Wye – its banks are a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest. The result is a conscientious campsite, with plenty of recycling, composting toilets and no caravans or large motorhomes allowed. The farm is all organic and one acre is even used for the Hayfield Community Garden, a local food-growing and gardening scheme set up by the people of Hay-on-Wye.
The camping, though basic, is idyllic, in the form of roughly 60 undesignated pitches spread around the orchard or in a slightly sloping meadow, along with five geo-domes for glamping. Each of these is a different size, ranging from a four-metre dome for a couple to a ginormous six and a half metre dome that can sleep up to eight people. Each was homemade by Geoff the owner and are furnished simply but practically to create warmth and comfort for most weather conditions. Carpets, beds and bedding, wooden furnishings and electric lighting are all included. Most importantly, there’s also a cosy wood-burning stove. There are relatively simple hot-water shacks where you can do your washing up, brush teeth or take a shower and braziers are available to rent for that essential evening campfire. And just in case glamping isn't your bag, they also have a self-catering property with its own facilities and a generally higher level of comfort..
The real appeal of Racquety Farm, though, is the river. Kingfishers and herons can be spotted and otters are known to frequent the area, along with badgers, hedgehogs, red kites, woodpeckers, dormice, bats and owls also. Ros’s son runs a well-known canoe hire company from the campsite – 'Want to Canoe?' – and you can launch your own canoes directly from the farm. Multi-day outings are highly recommended, partly for the full experience of the river and partly to give you more time in the canoe. The River Wye has popular wild swimming sites just a short walk from Racquety Farm or stick to terra ferma and wander into Hay-on-Wye. The town is just moments away and that café cuppa awaits.
The Owner Says
** Now taking bookings for the Hay Festival of Literature and the Arts (24 May–3 June 2018). **
The views from Racquety Farm are excellent and although you will be in the countryside, the campsite is only a short walk from the charming town centre of Hay. The site boasts private access to the nearby River Wye with exclusive rights for game and coarse fishing and a canoe launch/landing point. There's a canoe hire company sited a short walk from the site, whilst fresh, seasonal fruit and veg is often available to buy as well as basic supplies like tea, coffee, sugar, milk, bacon and eggs. This 60-pitch campsite is a 'Soil Association' certificated organic farm comprised of arable pasture, orchards and woodland and the sites tranquil river bank is an SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest).
Our favourite spot
Tents, glampers small campervans, dogs (on a lead) – yes. Motorhomes and caravans – no. Large groups by prior arrangement. During the Hay Festival Season (24 May-3 June 2018) dogs are not allowed onsite.
The local area
Directly adjacent to the campsite there is Aubrey's canoe hire company (01497 820604) – you can slip straight out onto the water and paddle into town or further afield. They can pick you up again further downstream or start in Glasbury-on-Wye for a longer spell on the water. Sailing (01874 658596) is also available at nearby Llangorse Lake and there's horse riding in Bryngwyn (01497 851669), while heading out on foot along Offa's Dyke Path or The Wye Valley Walk is also hugely popular. For most, however, it's the 5–10-minute walk to Hay town centre that's the real attraction. Aside from the collection of good pubs and restaurants, the place is awash with quirky, independent shops. It is particularly renowned for its antique and vintage shops and book shops.
Best local places to eat and drink
A breakfast bar onsite is available on busy weekends and for whole group bookings (contact the site to discuss). Local produce is available from the Hayfield Community Garden during summer months or in Hay Town at the Deli and Greengrocer (01497 820708). There's also an excellent local butchers (01497 820636). Racquety Farm has raspberries for sale (end of June–September) with a 'pick-your-own' that is particular popular with families. Homemade apple juice is also for sale while stocks last!
Why stay with us?
There are 6 compost loos, 5 hot gas-powered showers and good re-cycling facilities. Braziers available for campfires (fires not permitted on the ground) and firewood is available to buy. Geodesic domes are fully carpeted and feature beds and bedding, wood-burning stove and fuel, electric lighting and socket. Direct access to the river for canoeing or fishing. Licences and permission can be obtained for fishing via the campsite or The Wye and Usk Foundation. The river bank is an SSSI, so the owners are careful to manage the numbers of people accessing the river bank at one time. The Wye is a popular river for 'wild swimmers'.
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