Tour Date: TBC June 2025Location: United Kingdom

Many of you have visited the railways and mountains of North Wales with us over the years. Now we would like to introduce you to the Central Wales, Trains, Real Ales and Gardens Tour.

Many of you have visited the railways and mountains of North Wales with us over the years. Now I would like to introduce you to the Central Wales, Trains, Real Ales and Gardens Tour. Here we travel the picturesque Heart of Wales line from Shrewsbury through beautiful countryside. Along the Knucklas viaduct to the summit at Sugar Loaf. Through the Sugar Loaf tunnel and along the Cynghordy viaduct. The train travels onto Swansea. We will stop at Llandeilo, one of Carmarthenshire’s little market towns. From here we travel out to the Teifi Valley railway and the Gwili Valley railway. Visit the gardens of Aberglasney and the National Botanical Gardens of Wales. What more could you ask for? Maybe a cool glass of real ale? Evan Evans Brewery is here in Llandeilo, where better to sample this, than the local pub.

From: Shrewsbury or any UK rail station

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Day 1  Friday (D) 

Meeting in Shrewsbury at the Victoria Quay (10:45) for our tour on the Sabrina boat.

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Sabrina Riverboat on the Severn in Shrewsbury

Our journey will take approximately 1 hour as we travel on the Severn River around the lovely town of Shrewsbury. We will pass the beautiful park and gardens and see how they have evolved since the days of Percy Thrower, whose final career move was to Shrewsbury in 1946, as the Parks Superintendent, where he became the youngest parks superintendent. He had a staff of about 35.  After our journey we will have time for lunch before meeting again in the railway station (13:45) for our journey on the Heart of Wales line to the Market Town of Llandeilo.

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Cynghordy Viaduct, between Llandovery and Llanwrtyd Wells, carrying the Heart of Wales Line

We will have our transfer to the 4-star Cawdor Hotel where we stay for the next five nights.  There will be time to relax before meeting up for dinner in the Cawdor restaurant.  There can be fewer towns in Wales more attractive than Llandeilo in Carmarthenshire, sitting proudly on a hill above the River Towy. And there are fewer valleys lovelier than the Towy, the longest river which flows entirely through Wales. Overnight in Llandeilo.

Day 2  Saturday (B,L) 

Today we transfer to Brecon (09:15) via the town of Llandovery. Situated on the western border of the National Park. Llandovery was described by the early travel writer George Borrow as ‘the pleasantest little town in which I have halted’.

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Llandovery

Our visits today will start with Tretower Court and Castle a medieval fortified manor house set in beautiful countryside between Brecon and Abergavenny.

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Tretower Court

Here we will have a guided tour before moving onto our canal boat for our journey on the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal with a light lunch provided. From here we travel back to Llandeilo to our hotel. Overnight in Llandeilo.

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Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal

Day 3 Sunday (B,L)

Again we will meet up after breakfast for our transfer (09:00) to the Gwilli Steam Railway in Carmarthen (thought to be the oldest Town in Wales). The Gwili Steam Railway operates a standard gauge preserved railway from Bronwydd (near Carmarthen) in South Wales along a short section of the former Carmarthen to Aberystwyth railway that closed for passenger traffic in 1965, the track being lifted in 1975.

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Gwili Railway

The Gwili Railway was formed in 1975 and, by 1978, had purchased and rescued about eight miles of trackbed. Whilst here we are able to see the engine sheds with a local volunteer of the railway before setting off on our journey along the line. During our journey we will be served our Sunday lunch aboard the train. After our steam rail experience, we will visit Aberglasney. A medieval house and gardens set in the Towy Valley.

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Aberglasney Gardens

This beautiful property set in 10 acres of gardens was opened to the public in 1999. Here we will have our stop to visit this spectacular property and gardens. If we have time and the weather is kind to us, we can stop again, on our way back to our hotel, to admire Newton House (a National Trust property) set in Llandeilo.

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Dinefwr Park and Newton House (NT)

Although it will be too late to entre Newton House those of you who still have some energy left, there will be an optional walk around the grounds and to Dinefwr Castle where there are stunning views overlooking the Towy Valley. Overnight in Llandeilo.

Day 4 Monday (B,L) 

This morning we will take the 09:00 train from Llandeilo to Llanelli. This will complete the Heart of Wales Line from Shrewsbury to Llanelli. At Llanelli the line joins the main line to Swansea. We will be met by our coach at Llanelli and taken to the Mynydd Mawr Railway. This is a heritage railway which aims to re-instate as much of the former Llanelli and Mynydd Mawr Railway which closed in 1989. The initial line was a tramway powered by horses transporting coal to the sandy area of Llanelli Docks. Throughout the twentieth century the line continued as a main artery for coal distribution from the Gwendraeth Valley, until the closure of Cynheidre Colliery in 1989. After our visit here we will transfer back to Llanelli Station for our train to Carmarthen. This journey is very picturesque passing the coastal towns of Pembrey & Burry Port, Kidwelly & Ferryside.

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Local train at Burry Port

You may be lucky enough to see the Welsh cockle pickers at Ferryside. Our coach will again meet us at Carmarthen to transfer us to The White Heart pub and brewery for lunch and our brewery visit.

After our visit we will return to Llandeilo where you will have free time, perhaps, if you are National Trust members you may wish to visit Newton House set on the Dinefwr Estate. Shop in our local shops or take a walk to the band stand where there are spectacular views of Llandeilo and surrounding countryside. Overnight in Llandeilo.

Day 5 Tuesday (B,L)

Today we retrace our journey to Brecon for our visit to the Brecon Mountain Railway.

60C5EB52 8843 47CE 9CAF AD9E3A9398E1This will be followed by a journey through the Brecon Beacons to Swansea where will see where the Swansea and Mumbles Railway use to run. The Swansea and Mumbles Railway was the world’s first horse car railway in the world, originally built to move limestone from Mumbles to Swansea. The museum may be closed but we are able to see a reconstructed model of the double decker tram through the window. At 16:00 we have a boat trip on the Copper Jack to explore the history of the Tawe River. There is an option after this visit to travel back to Llandeilo on our coach or to take the train from Swansea to Llandeilo to complete the Heart of Wales Line from Swansea (at own expense).  Overnight in Llandeilo.

This is the end of the first section of the tour and you may, if you wish, leave today or stay on for the add-on the Aberystwyth. 

Day 6 Wednesday (B,L)

This morning we say goodbye to Llandeilo and transfer to Aberystwyth. We leave the hotel at 09:30 with our luggage.  Our first visit today will be the National Botanical Gardens of Wales. The gardens are set in the beautiful countryside of Carmarthenshire.

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The Walled Garden at the National Botanical Garden of Wales

Here you’ll find an inspiring range of themed gardens, the world’s largest single-span glasshouse, the British Bird of Prey Centre, a tropical butterfly house, a walled garden and a nature reserve all set in a Regency landscape. After our visit we travel onto Cenarth for lunch in a local pub set beside the River Cenarth. The river is well known for its falls and salmon fishing on coracle boats. These are small, rounded, lightweight boats that are traditionally used in Wales. After lunch we travel onto Henllan to the Teifi Valley narrow gauge railway.

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Teifi Valley Railway

The Teifi Valley Railway was created from a branch line of the Great Western Railway which served the West Wales rural area. The railway is situated near the market town of Newcastle Emlyn between Carmarthen and Cardigan. Overnight in Aberystwyth.

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Aberystwyth

Day 7 Thursday (B, D)

Our first visit today will be the Vale of Rheidol Railway a narrow gauge heritage railway in Ceredigion between Aberystwyth and Devil’s Bridge, a journey of 11 ¾ miles.

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Vale of Rheidol Railway

The original primary purpose of the line was to carry timber (for pit props in the South Wales valleys) and lead ore from the Rheidol Valley to the sea and the main railway at Aberystwyth. We will have an hour break at Devil’s Bridge before our return journey to Aberystwyth. On our return we will break for lunch and join up again for our short journey on the Aberystwyth Cliff Railway.

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Aberystwyth Cliff Railway

The railway is a 778ft long funicular railway, the second longest in the British Isles and opened on 1st August 1896. The funicular was originally a water balance system but was electrified in 1921. It’s now run by Constitution Hill Ltd., a registered charity. There is a café and a camera obscura, the biggest in the world, on the top of the hill and of course some wonderful views across the bay and surrounding countryside. We finish our tour here so if you wish to stay longer you may travel back to the hotel when you wish. Overnight in Aberystwyth. Farewell dinner.

Day 8. Friday (B)

After breakfast we take the train from Aberystwyth back to Shrewsbury where we started our tour. Option to stay on for longer in Aberystwyth should you wish.

Prices (per person)

  • From Shrewsbury: £965 in a twin/double, £1,085 in a single use room
  • From any UK rail station: POA
  • Three night add-on to Aberystwyth: £440 in double/twin, £550 in a single use room

Price Includes

  • 4 nights at the Cawdor hotel in Llandeilo with breakfast (5 nights with add-on)
  • 2 nights in Starling Cloud, Aberystwyth
  • all excursions listed in the itinerary
  • services of our tour manager. Holiday is fully escorted from Shrewsbury

Hotel

The Cawdor, Llandeilo (4-star)

TBC, Aber

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