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Day One – Set Off from Manchester To Llandudno
Head out of bustling Manchester towards Chester and in the blink of a dragon’s eye you’re crossing the border in to Wales, travelling through Flintshire and along the Irish Sea coast via Prestatyn and Rhyl, to the classic Edwardian seaside town of Llandudno. From the station here it’s a short taxi-ride to your accommodation, where we suggest dropping your luggage and heading on to the impressive Great Orme peninsula via the UK’s only surviving cable-drawn tramway.
Your accommodation in Llandudno
Centrally located, just a block or two from the sea, your accommodation in Llandudno is the very friendliest of traditional guest houses, whose owners have a gift for putting guests immediately at ease. Unfussy, comfortable rooms ensure a restful night, while the breakfast of local produce and homemade bread and preserves sets you up for a full day’s exploration.
Day Two – Conwy Castle and the Medieval Town
Take the 20-minute bus-ride from Llandudno to Conwy this morning, where you’ll be met by our friendly and enthusiastic local guide and taken on a fascinating and fun private guided tour of Conwy Castle, the threatening medieval fortress that dominates the skyline here. Stepping down from the battlements, you’ll make your way to the impressive city walls – some of the most complete in Europe – to see the town from their elevated perspective. Later, you might like to drop in to Conwy’s famous 1920s ale house for a private ale-tasting session, before a stop at Plas Mawr, the beautifully preserved Elizabethan townhouse at Conwy’s centre.
Day Three – A First Taste of Steam
Wave goodbye to Llandudno this morning and take the short train-ride to the centre of Wales’s ancient slate-mining industry, Blaenau Ffestiniog. Here, pick up the first of your steam experiences on the Ffestiniog line service to Porthmadog. Travel in first-class style in original Pullman carriages, attended to by bright Welsh-speaking staff serving a full lunch menu with drinks as you chuff through some of the country’s most evocative vistas.
Upon arrival at Porthmadog Harbour station, you’ll be met by a driver from your Portmeirion hotel and transferred there in comfort by road.
Your Hotel in Portmeirion
Little can prepare you for your first sight of Portmeirion, the eye-popping ‘idea village’ created by maverick architect and philanthropist Clough Williams-Ellis in the early-to-mid 20th century, and on which he continued to work until his death in 1978 at the age of 94. Modelled on the precipitous ancient towns of Italy’s Amalfi coast, Portmeirion is a riot of colour, seemingly spread across the cliffs overlooking the gaping Afon Dwyryd estuary. Not only the village, but also the extensive Gwyllt (Welsh for ‘wildwood’) featuring a superb collection of exotic trees, plants and flowers, Japanese and oriental gardens, secret temples and pagodas and even a dog cemetery.
Hotel guests are invited to join complimentary guided walks around the village (closed to all but residents and hotel guests in the evening; a magical experience at twilight) and ‘land train’ trips in the Gwyllt. Or maybe you’d prefer to make your own way through the 16 miles of private footpaths, heading to the coast for some of the best views in Wales.
The hotel features comfortable, unpretentious accommodation, coupled with opulent lounging and a striking art-deco restaurant (redesigned by Sir Terence Conran in 2005) where a fine menu of Welsh classics is served by friendly, Welsh-speaking staff.
Day Four – Steam from Porthmadog to Caernarfon, Edward’s Seat of Brutal Power
Enjoy breakfast this morning – weather permitting on the terrace – before you’re transferred to Porthmadog Harbour station to catch your second steam service, this time to Caernarfon. Travelling via stations at Bedgellert, Rhyd Ddu and Plas y Nant, once you reach Caernarfon, you’ll have time for a brief stretch of the legs before making your way back to Porthmadog. Enjoy a glass of something special from the bar on the return journey, taking time to experience the view from the beautifully restored, glass-sided observation car. Arriving at Porthmadog, you’ll be met by a driver and transferred back to your hotel.
Day Five – Behold the Brecon Beacons
You’ll be transferred back to Porthmadog after breakfast, to catch the train to Abergavenny. Travelling on the scenic Cambrian Line, the train makes its way down the gorgeous coast of Cardigan Bay before skirting the Cambrian mountains on the way to Shrewsbury, where you change for the short hop to Abergavenny. Here, catch a taxi from the station for the 15-minute ride to your hotel.
Your Hotel in the Brecon Beacons
Set just a short distance from the cute town of Crickhowell, your hotel in the Brecon Beacons is a family owned country house hotel, where guests’ comfort is right at the very top of the list. Long-established, with an enviable reputation for fine service, this imposing structure protects a haven of tranquillity within. Log fires crackle in every guest lounge (there are several) and friendly, attentive staff do all they can to make your stay as comfortable as possible, while the charming owners ‘do the rounds’ each evening, making sure each guest is as comfortable as possible, perhaps enjoying a cocktail before dinner in the relaxed and inviting restaurant.
Fabulous, mature grounds feature an abundance of rare trees, plants and wildlife and it’s easy to get lost here, perhaps with a picnic prepared for you before you set off.
Day Six – A day to explore Crickhowell and surroundings
A day to explore at your leisure, perhaps the extensive grounds of your hotel or slightly further afield in Crickhowell.
Day Seven – Heading South to Capital Cardiff
This morning, take a taxi back to Abergavenny, where you’ll catch your train to Cardiff, proud seat of the Welsh Assembly and capital of the kingdom of Wales. Once here, it’s a short taxi-ride to your accommodation in the smart Pontcanna district, just a 15-minute walk from the city centre and Cardiff Castle.
Your Accommodation in Cardiff
In one of Cardiff’s leafiest locales, overlooking Caeau Pontcanna Fields, the huge grassy space that really has no place this close to a busy city, your accommodation here is a small, family owned hotel, whose owners have done much to singlehandedly lift the level of service expected of local establishments. Spotless and supremely comfortable, each of the rooms feature all you need to relax after a long day’s discovery, while the cosy bar is the perfect place to take refreshment ahead of an evening out.
Day Eight – A day to discover the Welsh capital
Compact and easily navigable on foot, Wales’s capital city features striking modern architecture alongside fine historic buildings (including its terrific eponymous castle) glorious parks and gardens, several world-class museums and galleries, and an ever-growing number of innovative dining options. We’ll provide our hand-selected recommendations to help you make the most of your time in this fun and fascinating city.
Day Nine – Along the South Coast to Gorgeous Gower
Take a taxi this morning, back to Cardiff Central to catch your train to Swansea. Here, you’ll be met by the very friendliest of local driver-guides, and taken on a private guided tour of this most captivating corner of Wales, whose hidden beaches, soaring cliffs and secret coves could easily come from some faraway land. Your guide, a lifelong native of the Gower, will help you uncover some of its best-kept secrets, stopping at an out-of-the-way inn for lunch as you go.
Your Accommodation on the Gower Peninsula
Set just off the main thoroughfare in the town of Mumbles, your accommodation here is a family owned guest house whose modest exterior hides the very essence of Welsh charm within. Just five cosily appointed bedrooms feature, while the enthusiastic owners are only too keen to share their knowledge and love of Mumbles.
Day 10 – A day to explore Mumbles
Spend today at leisure uncovering the delights of charming Mumbles at your own pace. The seafront and marina are a few short steps away from your accommodation, where you’ll find quirky shopping, friendly bars and inviting cafés and restaurants that are sure to tempt you inside.
Day 11 – Further Along the Coast to Penally for Tenby
After breakfast this morning, you’ll be met by your driver-guide again and transferred back to Swansea for your train to Penally, a unique ‘request-stop’ on this line, built to serve your hotel here. When you arrive, friendly staff from the hotel will meet you off the train and transfer you up the hill to your accommodation.
Your Hotel in Penally
Recently saved by the current owners from near-dereliction, your accommodation in Penally is a remarkable property, where Georgian and Victorian features blend seamlessly with more modern elements to create a very relaxing place to stay. As well as the beautifully appointed bedrooms – many with vast picture windows looking out across the gardens to the coast – the in-house restaurant has quickly risen in acclaim to become one of the best in the region, serving a tempting menu of reliable Welsh classics given a Pembrokeshire twist.
Day 12 – A Private Guided Walk in Tenby
Staff at your hotel will arrange a taxi to take you the short ride to Tenby, one of the most historic and picturesque places in south Wales. You’ll be met here by our specially chosen local guide and taken on a unique ‘chronological’ history tour, telling the story of the town’s pre-history, inception, medieval growth and Victorian heyday via its streets, houses, churches and monuments.
Day 13 – Pembrokeshire Safari to St David’s
After breakfast this morning, you’ll be collected by another of our terrific local guides and taken on a private Land Rover safari around the most arresting locations in Pembrokeshire. Your tour will take you through the spectacular Preseli Mountains and along the north Pembrokeshire coast towards Britain’s smallest city, St David’s. Highlights of the trip include Pentre Ifan Burial Chamber, the Gwaun Valley and Porthgain Harbour. Cameras essential!
At tour’s end you’ll be dropped at your accommodation in St David’s.
Your hotel in St David’s
Just a few minutes’ walk from the city centre, your hotel in St David’s is a recently created hotel, whose unfussy exterior gives no indication of what awaits inside. Owned by an acclaimed local architect, every possible detail has been carefully considered, from the extensive collection of locally sourced art, to the very finest fixtures and fittings that feature throughout, this is an indulgent treat of a place at which to spend the last two evenings of your holiday.
St David’s centre is just a stroll away, and what a surprise this place is. The UK’s smallest city, with a population of just 1800 or so, on the face of it St David’s seems little more than a hamlet. However, the city holds more quality dining options per head than anywhere else in the UK, and its community of artists and artisans help fashion a unique atmosphere, where innovation in creativity lives side-by-side with tradition. Moreover, within a stone’s throw you’ll find the fabulous beach at Whitesands, a surfers’ paradise where you might be lucky to see a classic Welsh midsummer sunset.
Day 14 – Off the Coast of Pembrokeshire for Birdlife on the Briney
Set off from St David’s this morning with our specially chosen and hugely experienced local guide, for an evocative boat-trip off the Pembrokeshire coast. Weather permitting, you’ll head for one of the offshore islands where, at specific times of year, puffins, gannets and Manx shearwater gather in astounding numbers. Along the way you’ll enjoy views of the coastline as good as any in Europe.
Day 15 – Heading Home
Enjoy a final Welsh breakfast this morning before your hosts transfer you to Haverfordwest in time for boarding your train to Cardiff – we’ll be happy to facilitate onward travel to anywhere in the UK.
This holiday is part of our ever-growing collection of public transport based holidays, enabling you to reach destinations around Wales without the need to drive. We feel strongly that true sustainability also means promoting and helping to maintain a way of life in areas where the economic benefit of tourism can make a genuine difference to the local community, which is why we have used locally-owned small accommodation and local guides on this holiday.
This comprehensive 14-night rail tour begins in Llandudno then includes stays in Portmeirion, Brecon Beacons, Cardiff, the Gower Peninsula, Penally and St. David’s.
£2295 per person in March & November, £2395 per person in April & October, £2465 per person for May, £2495 per person for June & September and £2520 per person for July & August.
Price is based on two people sharing a double or twin room for 14 nights on a B&B basis. Train travel from Manchester to Llandudno and all train travel within Wales ending in Cardiff – both on regular scheduled service and special steam services – is also included. Private tour/transfers from Swansea to the Gower Peninsula and Penally to St David’s are included, as well as station transfers to and from your accommodations in Portmeirion, Penally and St David’s. Private walking tours in Conwy and Tenby are also included, as is a boat tour from St David’s as part of a small group.
Before your departure, you will receive personalised holiday information including full directions, recommended routes, and suggestions on places to visit depending on your interests and our local knowledge to help you get the most from your holiday.
All itineraries and room types are presented subject to availability at specific hotels.
All our holiday prices include a service charge of £9 per person per night towards the costs we incur in researching, planning and designing your holiday.
We guarantee to refund this service charge if you believe that arranging your holiday through McKinlay Kidd has not met your expectations for value. All we ask is that you write to us within 7 days of your return and explain your reason for claiming the refund. This will ensure that we can improve the experience for all our future guests.
“You’ll either love it or hate it.” That was the advice of a relative when I told him we were heading to Portmeirion for an overnight stay and a...
This holiday can be arranged from March until the end of November.
To check the latest availability for this holiday complete the form below or call us. We will respond to your availability check within one working day if at all possible. Please bear with us on this - we work with a hand-picked selection of smaller hotels, guest houses, and other independent businesses, ensuring that you have the chance to explore off the beaten track and really get under the skin of the destination.
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