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Monmouthshire town named ‘best place to live’ in Wales by the Sunday Times

15 Mar 2024 5 minute read
Abergavenny. Image: Bannau Brycheiniog National Park

Stephen Price

A popular Monmouthshire market town surrounded by epic mountains has been named the ‘best place to live in Wales’ in the annual Sunday Times Best Places to Live guide.

The Sunday Times’ expert judges visited locations across the UK, assessing factors from schools to transport, broadband speeds to culture, as well as access to green spaces and the health of the high street – with the Welsh winner announced as Abergavenny.

Y Fenni

Seven Welsh locations feature in the coveted list, but the judges only had eyes for Abergavenny as their number one.

Judges said: “Few locations in the UK are as friendly, practical and picturesque as this friendly market town on the edge of the Bannau Brycheiniog National Park.

“There has been a market here since the 13th century and food remains a strong point, with the Abergavenny Food Festival celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.

“Community spirit is off the charts and there’s a strong and varied sporting scene.”

“Best Places”

Six other locations in Wales are featured in The Sunday Times’ guide which was released today (15 March), which details 72 locations across the UK.

An abridged version is set to be published as a magazine supplement on Sunday, but a dedicated feature on Abergavenny has appeared online.

The other Welsh inclusions are Conwy, Cardigan, Mumbles, Narberth, Presteigne and the Vale of Glamorgan.

Narberth. Image: Gareth Davies Photography

Presteigne in Powys had a special mention, with judges impressed by the inspirational community which has a knack for getting things done.

Presteigne has recently been declared the first official “dark skies” community in mainland England and Wales, after a six-year project.

Of all the Welsh entries, however, Abergavenny seemed an easy choice for judges.

“Foodie Mecca”

Called Gobannium by the Romans and Y Fenni by natives (after one of the rivers running through the town), the market town in Monmouthshire is the perfect base for exploring Bannau Brycheiniog National Park and the Blaenavon World Heritage Site.

The town is surrounded by seven mountains in total, the most famous being Pen y Fal (the Sugarloaf), The Blorenge and Ysgyryd Fawr.

Abergavenny towards Ysgyryd Fawr. Image: Visit Monmouthshire

Abergavenny’s status as a foodie Mecca is well established, with the annual Abergavenny Food Festival – a staple on the culinary calendar.

It is also famed for its regular food & craft markets featuring some of the best artisan producers from across the region.

Tim Palmer from the Sunday Times said: “What really stands out, though, is the powerful community spirit that everyone buys into.

“The Abergavenny Voice Facebook group has almost three times as many members as the town’s population of about 13,000, while another online collective, the Abergavenny women’s network, has 600-plus members with an impressive capacity to get things done, from organising litter picks to finding a home for unwanted goods.”

Celebration

Helen Davies, editorial projects director and Best Places to Live editor, says: “This guide is a celebration of towns, cities and villages that are each a fantastic place to live in 2024, from Dunkeld to Knutsford, Falmouth to Leeds. Wherever you are on the property ladder, there will be somewhere to suit you.

“These are all places where you can feel grounded as well as upwardly mobile: they have a mature sense of community, lively, supportive high streets and an eye to the future, whether that is eco-friendly measures, transport and regeneration, or imaginative inclusion of new housing.”

The chosen locations come in all shapes and sizes, from the tiny Scottish island of Kerrera to big, lively cities such as Belfast, Leeds and Liverpool.

There are more new entries than ever before in this year’s guide and no place for previous winners such as York and Bristol – the judges looked for improving locations with a strong sense of community rather than famous names with high house prices.

Helen Davies, the guide’s editor said: “What makes our guide unique is that we actually visit all the places we choose and talk to locals to find out what life is really like there.”

“That means we can see what people really love about the places they live. That might be fast commutes and high-achieving schools but also clean water to swim in, lively town centres with useful shops, the possibility of earning a living and being part of a friendly community.

“We do consider affordability, though high house prices are no barrier to inclusion – as long as they provide value for money.

“Different people may be looking for different things, but what all our best places have in common is that people love living in them and are proud to call them home.”


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Chris Jones
Chris Jones
25 days ago

Thank God my town didn’t make the list!

Iago Traferth
Iago Traferth
25 days ago

Tory stronghold that’s why.

Mike Hodges
Mike Hodges
25 days ago
Reply to  Iago Traferth

Abergavenny has a Labour Town Council and Labour County Cllrs. You’re factually incorrect old darling.

Iago Traferth
Iago Traferth
25 days ago
Reply to  Mike Hodges

Tory MP pretty good majority.

Mike Hodges
Mike Hodges
25 days ago
Reply to  Iago Traferth

Do have some faith. He’ll be voted out later this year.

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
25 days ago

Am I surprised? Not really. That’s where corrupt Conservative WS David TC Davies sends most of our once EU structural funding to.

anon
anon
25 days ago

Both sets of grandparents lived in Abergavenny and we know it well, even though it has changed. It is nice to see it voted top despite the political comments below

Lynne fletcher ( Burrows)
Lynne fletcher ( Burrows)
25 days ago
Reply to  anon

I’m Abergavenny born and bred, still go up about once a month. Moved away almost 40 yrs ago. Love Aber and have loads of friends there

Richard Thomas
Richard Thomas
24 days ago

Abergavenny is indeed a lovely place, it feels a million miles away from Brynmawr where my girlfriend is from despite the close proximity of the two towns.
I’m always mystified as to why it’s not Abergafenni (one name sufficient) as the English name is obviously a transliteration of a now disused Welsh name.

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