Welcome to Abergavenny, the loveliest place in Wales… although I’m biased, of course. I’m Jude Rogers, a broadsheet journalist, broadcaster and Welsh girl who has moved back home in recent years, and I frequently find myself staggered by the loveliness of this market town on the stunning Welsh borders. It’s surrounded by gorgeous mountains and hills, and packed with quirky, interesting places to while away an hour, a day or – yes, I’d go there – even longer. So grab your rucksack, good boy, or good girl, and welcome to Aber…

It’s a walker’s paradise

You can’t go anywhere in Abergavenny without noticing you are on the lush edges of Bannau Brycheiniog (the Brecon Beacons).

Very close to the town are three peaks that just beg to be climbed: the brilliantly-named Sugar Loaf, Blorenge and Skirrid. Sugar Loaf is the only actual mountain, and for the hardier walker: Countryfile Magazine's six-mile walk from Llawenarth Car Park takes you to the summit through gorgeous woodlands and moorlands.

Blorenge’s summit is easier access – there’s a long, twisting road to the top – but the beech-tree lined walk to the stunning Punch Bowl lake shouldn’t be missed. The Skirrid is smaller, but jagged and dramatic, and its peaks an easy climb that I’ve done with my young child twice. You can see the Severn and the Malverns from here on a clear day. Prefer to amble gently? Enjoy the Linda Vista Gardens in town, full of rose gardens and rockeries – and next to a free car park.

Man fishing in front of bridge over the River Usk, Abergavenny.

River Usk, Abergavenny, South Wales

It’s a creative hub

Abergavenny is full of arty people (says she) and lovely spaces to go with that. Take local institution The Art Shop, burrowing back from a 16th century townhouse front door into a warren stocked with every art material under the sun, gorgeous cards, and books from Welsh presses. It also has a gallery upstairs, which hosts fantastic small exhibitions, artfully tucked around corners and even into the shop’s tiny kitchen.

Its sister venue in Market Street, The Chapel, sells local pottery, prints and more books around a gorgeous café – the ham hock hash with fried egg for breakfast is a dream. It also has a play corner for kids, a venue upstairs, hosting classical, folk and world music gigs. And don’t miss Frogmore Street Gallery, an artists’ co-operative selling jewellery, woodwork, artwork and more.

Into reading? Don’t miss Broadleaf Books, a gorgeous second-hand shop selling folio editions, Penguin paperbacks, and quirky old guides to the local area, or the town’s writing festival every April – it’s just celebrated its third year.

It’s full of treasures down alleys

Always keep your eyes open in Aber. A tiny alley off Cross Street houses the tiny Annie’s Accessories, selling gorgeous vintage costume jewellery, including 1920s diamante capes. Another off Frogmore Street takes you to Lewis Lane, where you’ll find brand new independent wine merchants, Chester’s (named after the shop’s happy dog), the amazing cakes in Emmeline’s Tea Room, and the small, red-bricked Baker Street Cinema, converted from an old drill hall in 2010. The mews cottages in Nevill Street also houses tiny coffee-and-lunch cafe Fig Tree Expresso. And a top tip: the best way to get to the town’s small but beautiful Abergavenny Castle, with its accompanying lovely museum, is to take the tiny lane just after the lovely Black Mountain Fabrics on Cross Street, and wind your way up through the trees and castle walls. 

looking up at Abergavenny Castle from the bottom of the hill.

Abergavenny Castle and museum, South Wales

I frequently find myself staggered by the loveliness of this market town on the stunning Welsh borders. It’s surrounded by gorgeous mountains and hills, and packed with quirky, interesting places to while away an hour, a day or – yes, I’d go there – even longer."

It’s full of even more food

Yes, Aber has a food festival in September – and it’s huge. Be prepared to jostle with the crowds to hear top TV chefs, food critics, and fill your plate with gourmet goodies. The town’s gorgeous old market is at its busiest every Tuesday – our car parks fill with coaches – but the fourth Thursday of the month is the great Farmers’ Market, full of locally sourced produce. For posh nosh, have afternoon tea at the town’s grand hotel, The Angel, or try their bakery next door for sourdough bread and unusual pastries.

crowd in busy outdoor food festival.
Table with afternoon tea, champagne bottle and fire in background.

Abergavenny Food Festival, and afternoon tea in The Angel, Abergavenny, South Wales

Two miles north out of town, enjoy wine and cheese platters at Sugarloaf Vineyards. I’m also partial to Nevill Street’s many treats: the nettle curries at the Nepalese Gurkha Corner and the swish cookware and aprons at Cooks Galley. If I ever get back to my actual home to cook anything, that is...

View of signs down Abergavenny town centre.
Former red brick church in Abergavenny.
Welsh bunting and hills behind Abergavenny.

Sights around Abergavenny, South Wales

I haven’t even banged on about That’s Lovely That, or beautiful kids’ boutique, Cuddle & Cwtch… in short, Aber’s an endless delight. So come join me, and you’ll know that I’m right.

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