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Need help with itinerary by train

Canada
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Need help with itinerary by train

I've found Wales the hardest portion of my Europe trip to plan, simply because I don't recognize any of the city names like I would for places in France or Germany and they're all rather strange names that I can't pronounce!

I'm pretty flexible with the duration, somewhere between 10-14 days. Will be backpacking solo and taking public transport the whole way. Cardiff is the only city on my "must see list" so far. I will be travelling in the first part of July and would prefer to base myself in a place for a number of days and take day trips to see things, rather than move hostels every couple days. Would like to see both north and south, castles and some out of the way spots with less crowds which still have good train/bus access.

Any suggestions for cities to hit? Easy train routes to take?

Scunthorpe, United...
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1. Re: Need help with itinerary by train

I'll throw in some suggestions to get you started.

Cardiff is a good choice for a base for South Wales. If you like castles there is Cardiff Castle which is splendid.

http://www.cardiffcastle.com/

A short bus ride away is Castell Coch which is a Victorian reconstruction and very much everyone's image of a fairytale castle.

http://www.castlewales.com/coch.html

Caerphilly Castle can be reached by train.

http://www.castlewales.com/caerphil.html

For North Wales your best bet is a base in either Conwy (ancient walled town) or Llandudno (Victorian seaside town) which is a few miles away. Both of these can be reached by train from Cardiff.

This is a very good website which will give you plenty of ideas.

http://www.greatorme.org.uk/

Take the tramway up the Great Orme and come down on the cable car.

Visit Conwy Castle

http://www.castlewales.com/conwy.html

and also Plas Mawr which is a beautifully restored townhouse in Conwy.

http://www.conwy.com/plasmawr.html

(You should be able to get a joint ticket for these).

www.cadw.wales.gov.uk/default.asp…

Walk along the walls, walk across the old suspension bridge...

Catch a bus to Caernarfon, another mediaeval walled city and visit the castle.

http://www.castlewales.com/caernarf.html

From Caernarfon you can also have a ride on the newly opened Welsh Highland Railway. The station is just below the castle and it is a superb run through Snowdonia along the flanks of Snowden to Beddgelert. The line now extends beyond Beddgelert through the Pass of Aberglaslyn, but you can not get off here.

http://www.welshhighlandrailway.net/

Get a bus to Beaumaris for the castle.

http://www.castlewales.com/beaumar.html

Each of these castles is very different.

From Llandudno Junction you can catch a train to Blaenau Ffestiniog and visit Llechwedd slate caverns. If you have time do both the Miner's tramway and the deep mine tours.

http://www.llechwedd-slate-caverns.co.uk/

Eleanor

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2. Re: Need help with itinerary by train

Thank you very much for all the info, it's a great help in planning! It seems like there is more to see in the north? Is there any nice beach areas in either of those that might not be too crowded in the beginning of July?

Scunthorpe, United...
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3. Re: Need help with itinerary by train

"It seems like there is more to see in the north?"

No the rest of Wales is just as nice - It's just that I know the north bit best (and am biased!)

One of the problems with nice beaches (particularly quiet ones in July) is getting to them by public transport. July is likely to be fairly busy anyway.

Accessible beaches in North Wales...

I think you may need to get from Conwy to further down the peninsula. Make you base either Portmadoc or Cricieth.

Near Porthamdaoc is Borth y Gest and Black Rock Sands beach. Cricieth is a delightful old fashioned seaside town with 2 beaches and a ruined castle. It also has Cadwaladers Ice cream parlour and an excellent fish and chip shop across the road from it.

Get a bus to Nefyn and walk along the cliffs to Morfa Nefyn. Then drop down to the beach. At low tide you can walk across the beach to Porth Dinllaen, a few houses built just above high tide mark with Ty Coch Inn (does meals) and then to the lifeboat station and lookout point at the tip of the headland. This makes a lovely day.

Further down the peninsula (accessible by bus) is Aberdaron. This is a delightful small village on the edge of the beach. There are good cliff walks from it

I was hoping some of the South Wales experts would fill in on the south...

From Cardiff you could go to Swansea which gives access to the Gower Peninsula and its beaches - BUT I am not sure how easy it is to get round this area by bus.

Another suggestion is to head to the end of the peninsula and go to St David's, a tiny settlement (it is in fact a city) tucked into a hollow behind the cliffs with a beautiful cathedral and ruined Bishop's Palace. This is the kind of place to drop out for several days. Again I'm not sure what buses are like around here.

Whitesands Bay is a couple of miles walk from St Davids. There is an excellent coastal footpath and you can walk for miles.

There are also boat trips you can do to the tiny offshore islands.

thousandislands.co.uk/…20davids.htm

There's lots more work to do. I'm afraid!

Eleanor

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4. Re: Need help with itinerary by train

I've been a bit hesitant to answer your post, as it's been a number of years since I've visited Wales. On the other hand, I always travel by train, with a few buses thrown in.

So - here goes.

One scenic journey starts at Shrewsbury, goes via train through the middle of Wales to the coast at Barmouth, then up the coast (past Harlech castle) on up to Pwllheli. (last stop before Pwllhelli is Criccieth, I think). Very scenic.

Stay at (maybe?) Porthmadoc. I'm pretty sure that there are buses to Port Meirion. There is a narrow guage steam train that runs from Porthmadoc to Blaenau Ffestiniog. Then a regular train from Blaenau Ffestiniog through Betws-y-Coed on up to LLandudno. (You can get off at Llandudno Jct and walk from there to Conwy.) There used to be a bus that ran from Pwllheli across the Lleyn penisusula to Caernafon also.

In SW Wales, there were frequent buses from Haverfordwest (which is on the RR) to St. Davids (which I would highly recommend for the same reasons as given in your last reply).

You can also get to Pembroke on the train. Marvelous castle there. (Note: NOT Pembroke Dock.)

Is this of any use?

Liz

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5. Re: Need help with itinerary by train

Being biased to the South, would suggest newport to start then,Cardiff with the bay is a wonderful city with loads to do, Swansea and the gower is well worth a visit, carmarthenshire,a holiday in itself,with carmarthen and llanelli, llandeilo and llandovery,national botanical gardens, aberglasney etc etc , and the jewel of course is Pembrokeshire, a wonderful holiday county with many beaches , castles small towns etc, all over the south , the trains and buses are good for travelling

Abergavenny South...
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6. Re: Need help with itinerary by train

Why not Abergavenny? Good bus and train links, and The BreconBeacons National Park to explore

Scunthorpe, United...
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7. Re: Need help with itinerary by train

We are all throwing out more and more ideas - and they all sound so exciting. The danger is that you try and do everything.

Pick out the best and those you really want to do and are easily achievable, otherwise your itinerary is going to become impossible! Public transport can be slow so check out routes and how long it will take you to travel between bases. This may need a whole day depending on the journey.

Eleanor

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8. Re: Need help with itinerary by train

agree with EESW, whatever you choose, do not overstretch yourself and try and do everything.Have a plan with a little rest time and I think you will enjoy more than rushing round trying to do everything

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9. Re: Need help with itinerary by train

You're right, a person asks for ideas and soon there are so many, you don't know what to do with them!

I think I do have an idea of what might work. I'm thinking of spending 4 days in Cardiff and exploring the sights in and around there. I did some searching about the scenic journey from oddone123 and came up with the Cambrian Line http://www.thecambrianline.co.uk/

It sounds like gorgeous scenery and I'm sure I'll want to stop along the way because I see there are some beaches! Are there any recommendations for somewhere to stop along this rail journey for a night?

I think I will allow 2 days to meander my way up to Portmadog. And from there make my way to Conwy and use that as a base for 5 days and explore LLandudno and Caernafon. And then use a day to get to Hollyhead and on the ferry across to Dublin.

Sound feasible?

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10. Re: Need help with itinerary by train

Hi snakeytail

Yes that does sound very feasible, and I'm going to throw in a small suggestion for the bit between Cardiff and the Cambrian line. Go west on the train from Cardiff to Swansea and switch trains to the Heart of Wales Line. It takes you diagonally through mid Wales in a north east direction all the way to Shrewsbury where you connect with the Cambrian line.

I recommend a stop overnight in Llandeilo which has lovely little Georgian lanes and stone cottages, good small independent shops, a National Trust stately home, and the ancient castle of Lord Rhys (Dinefwr) who founded the Eisteddfod in the 12th century. Then get back on the line and head for Llanwrtyd Wells for another night's stop. It is the capital of wild wackiness in Wales, a wonderful town (Britain's smallest town) and the life of the town seems to centre round the Neuadd Arms hotel, where locals and travellers alike gather round the bar in the evening (the pub has its own micro brewery and it is really good beer).

That way you can get from Cardiff to north Wales and see the beauty of Wales, inland and coast, all the way.

www.llandeilo.gov.uk/english/welcome.html

http://www.llanwrtyd.com/page002.html