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Bath to North Wales to Dublin

My husband, adult daughter (23) and I are travelling to London June 25, then to Oxford (visiting son) on June 30, then to Bath July 3 - 5; we have this part pretty much figured out. On July 5 we'd like to head up to North Wales. Q1 - if we are using public transit only, which train route is more scenic from Bath to North Wales - heading up through England or through Wales? Q2 - once in North Wales, our interest is Caernarfon castle and hiking, so (a) what's a good home base for a B & B with public transit access for the castle, for hiking trails (Anglesey or Snowdonia) and up to Holyhead to catch the ferry to Dublin? Overall we have 4 days allotted (July 5 - 8) before catching the ferry to Dublin.
I've tried to figure this out via the books and reading through other questions, but it's challenging, so advice is very welcome.

Posted by
16764 posts

It looks like you can connect to a scenic train at Birmingham New Street station without much effort. Direct trains at 11:25, 13:25, 15:25, etc. run via Telford and Chirk. Drill down on schedules to see the interim stations.

Alternate routes via Crewe and Chester are not marked scenic on my map until they cross into Wales, later in the trip, and those schedules are also less tempting, with more connections.

Posted by
1834 posts

If you were to catch a train from a place in north Wales to Holyhead for the ferry to Dublin, you should be able to pre-purchase a combined ticket from this website - but check the costs of doing it separately first.https://www.arrivatrainswales.co.uk/SailRail/RouteMap/

Now look at this map:> http://www.projectmapping.co.uk/Reviews/Resources/ATW%20Route%20Map%20-%20Dec%202013.pdf

When you go from Bath to SE Wales, you will be on a train that goes via Bristol and then through the Severn Tunnel under the estuary.
This train will be going to Cardiff (1 hour from Bath) - the Welsh capital - which in itself is worth a visit. www.visitcardiff.com
www.cardiffcastle.com
https://museum.wales/stfagans
/http://cadw.gov.wales/daysout/caerphilly-castle/?lang=en (which is a 20 minute train ride N of Cardiff).

Anyway, you are heading for north Wales so you must change trains at Newport. From here, direct trains will take you N on a line that more or less follows the Wales/ England border. This route is quite scenic but you will not be able to open the windows on any train as they are air conditioned and tinted - making photography difficult. On this route, Ludlow and Shrewsbury are worth a look but you are not allowed to hop off the train and then catch a later one unless you split the tickets. The Holyhead bound trains call at the English border city of Chester. You may well wish to consider spending 1 night here before proceeding along the north coast the next day.
www.visitchester.com

You may wish to consider staying in Conwy - which has a castle & is near to the seaside town of Llandudno as well as Bodnant Gardens. (You must inform staff on the train that you wish to get off at Conwy - do this after Chester). BTH > CNW would take 4 hours 42 minutes & cost £31 if booked in advance. (Price rises nearer date according to demand). BTH > CTR (Chester) would take 3 hours 45 minutes & cost £27 if booked in advance. However, when you put in for this journey, you must use the VIA drop down menu and insert AGV or most trains will be offered via a more expensive route via Birmingham. See www.nationalrail.co.uk

Now go back to the map. Can you see a line that goes W from Shrewsbury? This is a very scenic route that goes through to the west coast. The seaside town of Aberdovey is attractive. The line then goes N up the coast via Barmouth. Minffordd is the station for the village of Portmeirion whilst nearby Porthmadog is a good centre for getting out and about in this area. You could consider staying in Porthmadog as it has 2 narrow gauge steam railways that would take you on scenic routes - see www.festrail.co.uk
BTH > PTM (Porthmadog would take 6 hours 25 minutes & cost £31 if booked ahead. Turn up & pay on the day would be £53.80).

If you were to stay in Caernarfon, you would need to take the train from Bath to Bangor and then bus for the short hop to Caernarfon.
If you can’t find a suitable B&B in Porthmadog - try the Travelodge. For Caernarfon - try the Premier Inn.

If you were staying in Porthmadog & wanted to get to Holyhead for the ferry, you could take the Welsh Highland Railway 1 way to Caernarfon - then bus to Bangor & train to Holyhead. OR - bus from Porthmadog to Bangor & then train to Holyhead.
http://www.snowdonrailway.co.uk
http://www.little-places.co.uk/home
www.visitwales.com
Google places mentioned for more info.

Posted by
4468 posts

To be clear Sailrail generally requires a through journey, ie no stopovers enroute, travel directly to Ireland, do not pass go etc. This is because it is a dirt cheap fare. This of course doesn't stop you travelling to Wales and taking a Sailrail ticket from there.