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Americans going to Wales in May

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Americans going to Wales in May

Hello all,

My father (78) brother (37) and I (35) are planning to visit Wales in May, primarily to visit Merthyr Tydfil. My Father's Great Grandfather came to America from there and we'd like to see the place. We are planning to arrive in London on Saturday the 13th and travel to Cardiff, rent a car and get to Merthyr Tydfil. We'd then spend Sunday-Thursday in the area, travelling back to London THursday afternoon/evening for Friday & Saturday sightseeing, then coming home on Sunday.

Obviously we really don't have enough time to see all that there is, but we want to make sure we get a good sampling. So far, we think we want to see Castles of Carreg Cennen and Caerphilly and Tintern Abbey; St. Fagan's museum of Welsh life, Brecon Beacons, Cyfarthfa Castle museum. We'd like to attend a church on Sunday and perhaps see the Abbey and or a castle that afternoon. We want to spend some time on the attactions of Merthyr Tydfil

What are the Other things you'd recommend us to see while we are there?

What is a reasonable order in which to take them? IE: if you had the 4.5 days we have and wanted to see these things, how would you arrange that so that you don't spend the whole time driving around?

Any Hotel Recommendations for Merthyr Tydfil?


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1. Re: Americans going to Wales in May

JimKhana: Instead of driving around the entire time, you might think about taking the train to some attractions. I really enjoyed visiting Tenby, a lovely little port town, and I've also visited the castles in Pembroke and Oystermouth. Also, if you're visiting Tintern Abbey, Chepstow Castle is south of that and definitely worth checking out.

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2. Re: Americans going to Wales in May

LeeB: Thanks. I do hope to travel by train as much as possible. We can't walk as much as I would if by myself, because my dad has some difficulty with arthritis when walking.

Are Tintern and Chepstow reachable by train or bus or is those sights we'll need to drive to? Could we see those two in a single day or even add Caerphilly all in one day? What do you think is reasonable?

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3. Re: Americans going to Wales in May

JimKhana: Chepstow and Caerphilly are both reachable by train out of Cardiff and Newport. Chepstow is northeast of Cardiff while Caerphilly is just a tad northwest, so you'd have to take two different trains. If you go to www.nationalrail.co.uk, you can check out timetables and maps.

I'm not sure if a bus goes to Tintern. Hopefully someone else will post with more information.

Salem, Oregon
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4. Re: Americans going to Wales in May

Hi,Jim. You're going to love south Wales, it's so beautiful. That's cool about your family connection. I have some suggestions that might work for you. For starters, get a car!

1) Get an Ordnance Survey map for the Merthyr Tydfil area. You can go online to the OS site and explore. There might very well be something in the immediate vicinity that you'll want to visit, perhaps even something with your family surname (Jones Hill, Davies Farm). Look for the 1:25,000 scale, Explorer maps, for the closest look.

2) Lots of places to visit:

A) A day of Tintern Abbey, Hay-on-Wye (town of bookstores), and Stokesay Castle -- extraordinary 13th century fortified manor house -- and beautiful drive. Stokesay's only 2 hours from MT.

Other places 2 hours away, the other direction:

B) Manorbier Castle (setting of "I Capture the Castle") with short walk for you and brother to King's Quoit prehistoric burial quoit on the coastal cliff

C) Tenby, already mentioned

D) Pembroke Castle, home of the Tudors, birthplace of Henry VII, impressive ruin

E) Carew Celtic Cross -- 1,000 years old, 8 feet tall, magnificent, next to Carew Castle

2.5 hours away:

F) Castell Henllys prehistoric village. This is a truly marvelous site, reconstructed roundhouses, furnished. The best I've seen anywhere. And close by is Carreg Samson prehistoric burial site, a huge tripod topped with a gigantic rock slab. Very impressive.

Sorry I can't give you more suggestions close to Merthyr Tydfil, I'm not familiar with that area. I loved my week in Pembrokeshire.

Be sure to let us know how your visit goes.

Abergavenny South...
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5. Re: Americans going to Wales in May

The Nant ddu lodge just outside Merthyr is good www.nant-ddu-lodge.co.uk

Take a look at Cyfartha Castle in Merthyr(not exactly a castle but a house built by Crawshay Bailey the ironmaster in the castle style) it has got a good museum about Merthyr

Try and it in a visit to Big Pit mining museum in Blaenavon, with a full underground tour.

Chepstow is doable by train, and you can take a bus that goes from Chepstow through the Wye Valley to Monmouth via Tintern, but with limited time it is probably best to use a car!

Contact the Tourist Information in Merthyr for any information you need e-mail tic@merthyr.gov.uk www.merthyr.gov.uk

Cardiff, United...
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6. Re: Americans going to Wales in May

You may want to look at www.southwalestours.com. They can arrange an itinerary for you - but even if you don't book anything, the website has a good list of ideas....many of which you mentioned.

I think the ideas you have are good & all in a fairly accesible area. My view is that Tenby / Pembroke are too far, for the short time ytou are here.

The A470 road from links M4 motorway / Caerphilly & Methyr nicely. From Merthyr you can take the A470 south & call into Caerphilly< and I would also say visit Castell Coch which is just south of Caerphilly. Follow the signs for Tongwynlais & follow signs thru the small village. This Castle is high up the hilside but you casn park outside. It is very romnatic looking, and has splended views ojn clear day.

You can then continue A470 & join M4 motorway westwards - signposted Bridgend, Swansea, etc. After a few miles take juntion the next junction (33)signposted Barry. Museum of Welsh Life (St Fagans) is mile or so on left. You can do these in 3 in a day if wish. Quite busy day. I would expect half day at St Fagans, few hoiurs at Caerphilly, including Castle & an hour or so at Castel Coch. Just a word of advise - avoid the A470 south of Caerphilly in early morning as gets packed 0700 - 1000 weekdays with comuter traffic.

You can also visit Chepstow & Tintern Abbey in day as you get onto M4 again but go eastwards Newport/Bristol/London direction. Go past Newport & Take junction 24 for Chepstow. I am not sure full directions to Tintern Abbey but it is accessible quite easily from Chepstow area.

Lastly, Brecon Beacons are very easy to get to from Merthyr area. Once again A470m road but north bouns, oppoiste way from cardiff. Roads are much quieter & scenery is fabulous. Road will eventually lead you into Brecopn. 30 mins or so drive from Methyr.

If I were you I would also visit Cardiff Castle. I would suggest taking train from Methyr for a day to Cardiff & exploring centre with good shops / restuarants, & also Cardiff Bay. Castle is 10 mins or so walk from Cardiff Central rail station. Bute Park or Cathays Park are close & worth a stroll

You could visit Cardiff when picking up / dropping off car, but I am not aware of any luggage storage places in the city centre for security reasons. Maybe the car hire company can allow you to leave luggage with them.

The above ideas should keep you busy & see the places you wanted at a steady pace.

One importnat point I must note is the FA Cup football Final is due to take place on your arrival date 13th May. At present it is expected as Wembley London, but it may, just may be re arranged for Cardiff, if Wembley Stadium is not ready (as it hasnt been completed yet). If it is rearranged to Cardiff then I woudl definately change your arrival dates. Do not attempt to get anyway near Cardiff on Friday 12th or Sat 13th May as it the bussiest day of year & all forms of transport are jammed packed - no fun.

If it is not o be in Cardiff - I apologise for mis leading you, & enjoy your stay.

Some useful websites for you are:


www.firstgreatwestern.co.uk (for rail info & bookings).


www.thefa.com - to check on FA Cup Final details. Check Feb / march time for latest info.

For car hire check www.enterprise.com. They have an office within 5 mins walk to rear of Cardiff Central Station - Penarth Road Office. A large car eg Honda Acord Size would cost approx £35 per day. Bear in mind petrol is expensive at 90p per litre. This is why I suggested South Wales Tours as they are good value & take you all these places you want.

I trust this helps & I have not overloaded you with info. Anything else you need - just ask.

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7. Re: Americans going to Wales in May

Thanks for the detailed responses and suggestions! Especially the warning about possible congestion on our arrival day! I will look at the websites you have mentioned.

We are getting closer to the trip and it makes me nervous that we still haven't finalized our plans, but that's okay. I just want to make sure we don't leave saying, "I wish we'd have planned to do 'X' so we'd have left time for it."

Any suggestion on hotels you recommend in Merthyr Tydfil? I have seen a website for Chaplins and one for Baverstock. Are there others you'd recommend or are these both good?

Once again thanks for all of the help!

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8. Re: Americans going to Wales in May

JimKhana: Have you read the reviews on this website? There are nine for Baverstock and one for Chaplins.

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9. Re: Americans going to Wales in May

Re. hotel in Merthyr, Nant Ddu Lodge is highly rated I gather (but double-check that elsewhere on TripAdvisor) - it's 5 or 6 miles north out of town on the A470 road in the middle of the beautiful Brecon Beacons. Baverstocks is a bit nearer the centre of Merthyr, but it's on a very busy road almost in the middle of nowhere.

However, Merthyr is only 25 minutes drive from north Cardiff, so if you hire a car, staying at least your first night in Cardiff would not be the end of the world.

The Village Inn and the Quality Inn are the nearest on the main Merthyr road going out of north Cardiff, but on a Sunday, it's only another 15 minutes drive from here to practically all the city centre hotels in Cardiff. Merthyr is therefore about 40 minutes drive from the centre of Cardiff.

If you spent Sunday and Monday in Merthyr (and I'm sure even Merthyr fans will acknowledge that there's not much to do in Merthyr on a Sunday...) that might be enough.

Incidentally, there's a big Mormon church in Merthyr, so if you want to do any family history research on site, why not get in touch with them in advance to see when their Library will be open on the Sunday.

The Brecon Beacons are practically on your northern doorstep in Merthyr - the town of Brecon is 25 minutes drive north of Merthyr through beautiful countryside.

The book town of Hay on Wye is about 40 minutes drive north east - more bookshops than you can imagine.

You could do Caerphilly (30 minutes drive from Merthyr) and Tintern Abbey (50 minutes drive from Caerphilly) in one day, but you'll never get Carreg Cennen in the same day as it's 1 hr 20/30 minutes in the opposite direction from Merthyr.

So you could do Caerphilly and Tintern on Tuesday, Carreg Cennen on Wednesday, and then pop into St. Fagan's Museum of Welsh Life (40 minutes drive from Merthyr) on the Thursday before returning to London. You'll want a half-day (at least) at St. Fagan's.

So hotel-wise, you might consider a Cardiff hotel for your first and last nights, and the Nant Ddu or another Merthyr hotel for the middle two nights.

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10. Re: Americans going to Wales in May

Hi Jim

I'm actually a native of Merthyr Tydfil but living in Swansea at present.(Love both places !!) Merthyr is a wonderful centre for visiting the area - if you can get to Pant(northern edge of Merthyr-wonderful scenery)you can take the Brecon Mountain railway - not a long journey but wonderful views. Be sure to visit Cyfarthfa Park and Castle (museum).You are within 1 hour of Gower peninsula (area of outstanding natural beauty)which you reach via Swansea and Mumbles (well worth a visit).Rhondda Heritage Park in Trehafod is worth visiting for a look at the history of coal mining (can be reached by train via Pontypridd)St Fagans-museum of Welsh life also worth a visit butcan involve a lot of walking. Recommend the Nantddu Lodge hotel but out of Merthyr town on road to Brecon. Enjoy your trip.