Railroads and Waterways of Wales

Tour Highlights

Many consider Wales to be the most beautiful region in Great Britain. It is a land of rugged unspoiled coastlines, stunning towering mountains, dramatic sheer cliffs, luscious green valleys, cascading waterfalls, vast stretches of untouched countryside and beautiful ancient fairy tale castles. 
Wales is criss-crossed with incredible canals and waterways that meander through stunning countryside and quiet villages, passing by old traditional pubs and historic sites. We will discover both the ancient and modern Waterways of South Wales and the English Marches, which were at the heart of the Industrial Revolution. 

Likewise, the Great Little Trains of Wales are a very special way to see some of the best scenery in the British Isles. While each of these narrow gauge steam railways are unique in their own way, all of them have a history spanning well over 100 years, and so they have  the charm of old-time steam trains with plenty of  polished paintwork and brass. The special attraction of narrow gauge railways lies in their modest size compared with mainline trains, and their leisurely speed gives time to take in some of the splendid scenery. 

Tour Highlights:

   • Boat trip on the Brecon Canal
   • Mediaeval ship reconstruction 
   • Swansea docks
   • Ride on the Talyllyn Railway - the world’s first preserved railway, and enjoy its vintage locomotives 
   • Ride on the Vale of Rheidol and Ffestiniog Railways, featuring dramatic scenery
   • A journey on the Welsh Highland Railway (stunning!)  
   • The immaculate seafront town of Llandudno
   • Chester - one of Britain’s Historic Walled Cities

* Those joining any of our tours to Europe must be able to walk fairly long distances and climb stairs easily.

Tentative Itinerary

We depart for London.
We arrive and head to our country house hotel in Brecon Beacons National Park - a designated Area of Outstanding Beauty due to its rolling countryside, green valleys and wildly beautiful forests and lakes.
Today we explore The Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal (known as the “Mon and Brec”). On our barge ride we’ll discover its locks, an aqueduct, a lifting bridge, canal wharves and its links with small tramways. There will be opportunities for strolls by the canal.
We head down the valley to the Crumlin Arm and the reclaimed wetlands of the Gwent Levels. We’ll visit the Newport transporter bridge over the River Usk, as well as a lighthouse and a protected nature reserve. We’ll finish with a visit of an amazing reconstruction of a medieval ship.
We head to the southwest coast, and discover how water power was harnessed at Aberdulais Falls tin works and explore restored sections of the canal. Later we’ll learn about the historic Swansea Docks at the National Waterfront Museum, as we ride the Swansea Community Boat “Copper Jack”.
Abbey-Cwm hir Hall is a Victorian Gothic historic house built in 1834. Its restorations have been featured on many TV documentaries. Each of the 52 rooms contain their original features, including 23 fire places, Rococo and stained glass ceilings, a unique Victorian tiled floor and original slate surfaces. The house bursts with innovative interior design complimented by thousands of collectable items. We’ll enjoy a house tour guided by a family member, as well as a traditional Cream Tea!
We go to Aberystwyth to ride on the Cliff Railway which should provide excellent views if the weather is favourable. Then to the Vale of Rheidol Railway which opened in 1902, for a trip through beautiful scenery to Devil’s Bridge and return.
We’ll ride on three narrow-gauge lines today. First, the section of the Corris Railway that has recently re-opened. Then on to the Talyllyn Railway which has been running since 1865. Finally we go to the Fairbourne Railway for a journey to the Barmouth estuary.
You may want to visit the nearby historic market town of Dolgellau, or venture further to Portmeirion - a quaint Italianate village well-known as the setting for the cult 1960’s TV series “The Prisoner”.
Today, weather permitting, we will ascend Snowdon by the unique rack Snowdon Mountain Railway which dates from 1896. Then we take the narrow-gauge Llanberis Lake Railway along the shores of Llyn Padarn, with the opportunity to visit the National Slate Museum
We head over to the charming Welshpool and Llanfair Railway, and travel through delightful pastoral scenery. Then it’s on to ride the Bala Lake Railway - a narrow-gauge line re-opened on the former Great Western main line from Ruabon to Barmouth.
We take a journey on the two lines centred on Porthmadog. First, the Ffestiniog from Blaenau Ffestiniog to Porthmadog, which includes dramatic scenery and a spiral curve at Dduallt. Then on to the Welsh Highland Railway, which passes through picturesque country with views of Snowdon (hopefully!) on its way to Caernarfon.
We head to the seaside town of Llandudno for some free time, then proceed to Chester. The striking beauty and unique atmosphere make Chester one of Britain's most popular destinations.
On our walking tour of the city we see Britain’s most complete city walls, its oldest racecourse, its largest Roman Amphitheatre and a 1000-year-old Cathedral with Europe's finest example of medieval carvings. The afternoon is free to explore the attractions, cafés, pubs or the 700-year-old Rows galleries - a shopping delight! This evening is our Farewell Dinner.
We fly home from Manchester (direct to Toronto).

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