The Old Black Lion
“Historic inn on English-Welsh border”
Near Lion Gate, one of the original entrances to this old walled town, parts of this charming, mainly 17th-century inn could well date from the 1300s. During the English Civil Wars, Oliver Cromwell may have stayed here when his Roundheads laid siege to Hay Castle. The timbered main bar is furnished with scrubbed pine tables, and dining tables and easy chairs are in the Den, overlooking the garden; both these inviting areas have log-burners, making meals outside a real pleasure. The inn has a long-standing reputation for its locally sourced, freshly cooked food, prepared for daily menus by award-winning chef Mark Turton, among whose delights are pan-seared salmon; 21-day-matured local rib-eye steak; roast lamb rack; and crispy belly pork. Vegetarian options include spinach and roasted squash hash. Sunday alternatives to roasts include grey mullet; and goat's cheese and vegetable parcel. Every Friday evening there's live jazz in the bar. En suite guest rooms are spread between the main building, the Coach House and the Cottage. Hay is famous as the official National Book Town of Wales, and is home to a renowned annual literary festival; it also holds a Dark Skies Festival each October.
Facilities – at a glance
- Children welcome
- Children's portions
- Free Wifi
- Parking available
- Credit Cards Accepted
- Open all year
Also in the area
About the area
The largest unitary authority in Wales, Powys covers an area of approximately 2,000 square miles. Much of that is mountainous because it actually has the lowest population density of all the Welsh counties.
This much wild, empty space is perhaps best typified by the International Dark Sky Reserve in the Brecon Beacons National Park, one of only eleven in the world. The absence of light pollution creates an exceptional spot for star gazing. You won’t find any cities in Powys, just villages and smaller-sized towns, but that’s the way its inhabitants like it.
Newtown, the largest settlement, is perhaps most famous for being the birthplace of Robert Owen, the founder of the Co-operative movement. Brecon is a market town set on the edge of the Brecon Beacons National Park, while the pretty Victorian spa town of Llandrindod Wells boasts the National Cycle Collection. Elsewhere, Hay-on-Wye hosts a major literary festival every year.
Powys is liberally scattered with castles, burial mounds, hill forts, and other historic markers; Powis Castle, near Welshpool is probably one of the most impressive. And for walking enthusiasts, it’s not just the Brecon Beacons on offer – the Elan Valley describes itself as the ‘Welsh Lake District’.
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