Ten reasons to visit Monmouthshire-the foodie Capital of Wales

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1. Enjoy the ultimate foodie weekend at theAbergavenny Food Festival

We think the Guardian put it best when they said “Abergavenny is to food as Cannes is to film – an annual festival for spotting rising stars in Britain’s artisan food firmament”. Now in its 18th year, this is one of the leading food events in the UK, with over 200 stalls, 50 ticketed events and 30,000 visitors. Yotam Ottolenghi, Rick Stein, Anthony Bourdain and Thomasina Miers have all made appearances, and so far this year’s line-up includes Jose Pizarro, Monica Galetti and Chris Harrod from Michelin-starred The Whitebrook. Get organising an epic weekend in Wales now. 17th & 18th September 2016.

2. Go for a gourmet escape at The Whitebrook

This Michelin starred restaurant and rooms in the stunning Wye Valley is run by former Le Manoir Chef Chris Harrod. There’s a big focus on local produce, foraged ingredients and organic wines – a meal here is an experience to remember. The Whitebrook’s rooms are luxuriously decked out and oh so tranquil. Foodie paradise. Three course dinner, bed and breakfast based on two sharing from £214

‘Michelin-starred Chris Harrod produces masterful dishes using British ingredients, many sourced or foraged locally’. 3 of the best Restaurants with Rooms, BBC Good Food Magazine, February 2016

‘Chef-owner Chris Harrod did not bag that Michelin star without being fastidious. Harrod’s food is driven by the seasons and rooted in its locality, highly technical but natural-looking on the plate’. The Guardian Weekend, February 2016

3. Go shopping in the beautiful market town of Monmouth

Technically in Wales, Monmouth feels as quaint an English town as Winchester or Oxford. Its riverside setting and compact town centre make it the perfect spot to spend a day trawling the shops, and if you visit on Friday or Saturday you can stock up on the best Welsh produce from the town’s two markets. Take a break for lunch in one of the Monmouth’s lovely courtyards and watch the world go by.

4. Visit a Welsh vineyard

Yes you did hear that right. Wales has vineyards. We’re not saying they’re going to rival Bordeaux any time soon but there’s certainly some drinkable stuff to be found. Take a tour of the vineyards at award winning Ancre Hill (opened by the Duchess of Cornwall), whose wines are organic and biodynamic, or visit the Sugar Loaf vineyards for a self-guided tour followed by cream tea. We can think of worse ways to spend an afternoon.

5. Get cultural at the Monmouth Music Festival

Taking place over nine days in July, The Monmouth Festival has been going for an incredible 34 years. With a line-up of iconic music legends, local artists and up and coming talent, and with music ranging from dance to classical and jazz to folk, you won’t be long finding your groove. 22nd – 30th July 2016.

6. Kayak the river Wye

Whether you want to run rapids or lazily cruise down the river, there aren’t many better ways to explore the stunning Wye Valley than taking to the water. If you don’t like the repetition of return trips some of the companies will even collect you at an end point and bring you back to the start by mini bus – that’s after you’ve had a delicious lunch in one of the riverside pubs.

7. Visit a working farm and learn some rural skills

Ever felt that you missed your calling to be a sheep-shearer, pig-rearer or animal midwife? Now’s your chance to see what you’ve been missing. Monmouthshire has some great working farms that you can stay on and learn some new skills.Humble by Nature has almost 40 different courses to choose from and some properly lux accommodation. The welcome hamper and fire pits for outdoor cooking are the icing on the cake.

8. Fall in love with apples at the Welsh Perry and Cider festival

Now in its 15th year with over 3,000 visitors expected, the Welsh Perry and Cider Festival takes places at the gorgeous Caldicot Castle. Expect well over 100 ciders and perrys to choose from (good luck getting through them), live music and some very good festival food. A cider lovers’ dream. 27th – 30th May 2016.

9. Get your walking boots on

The Wye Valley is packed full of stunning walks, through wooded glades, ancient ruins and river meadows. Choose from a multitude of trails of varying routes and distances, or go all out and attempt THE Wye Valley Walk – 136 miles from Chepstow in Monmouthshire to the slopes of Plynlimon in Powys, criss-crossing the border between England and Wales. Serious walkers only need apply.

10. Indulge your sweet tooth with some Welsh treats

After all that walking you’ll need to get your energy back. Search out some Wye Valley ice cream from Brooke’s, made with milk and cream from their pedigree Jersey cows, in flavours like Welsh Gold (Honeycomb), Cointreau and Orange, and Almond Praline. Too cold for ice-cream? Visit Ben’s Bakes for some Bara Brith (fruit cake) or Welsh Tea Cakes. Or both.