Under the Tump

Oliver Balch

A charming examination of the community of Hay-on-Wye from an acclaimed travel writer.

Date Published
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Sheep, hills and inbreds. The typical image of rural Wales is hardly flattering. So why is a little market town in the Welsh Marches attracting waves of newcomers? Hay-on-Wye is hardly ‘typical’. Nestled under the Black Mountains, it’s home to 20 second-hand bookshops and the UK’s largest literary festival. Yet is that the sum of its appeal?

From an old pottery workshop under a castle tump, Oliver Balch embarks on an entertaining expedition of his new home to find out who and what makes it tick. In his signature reportage style, his investigations take him to the weekly market with the Merry Widows and down the pub with the local old boys. He meets with ex-hippies up in the hills and visits a self-appointed King in his palace.

Oliver Balch avoids romanticising the British countryside in favour of an honest and vividly told sketches of real life on the Welsh borders. An unusual portrait of a very unusual place.


Oliver Balch is a UK freelance journalist specialising in business and world affairs. He work has appeared in a wide range of international publications, including The Guardian, The Financial Times, Conde Nast Traveller and The Traveller. His first book, Viva South America! was shortlisted as ‘Book of the Year’ at the UK Travel Press Awards.

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