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Day trip to Cardiff/Caerphilly

My husband and I would like to spend a few nights in the Llanthony area. We would like to use it as a base for a few days to walk and explore the region. We would also like to go to Caerphilly Castle and to Cardiff. Does it make sense to drive to Abergavenny and park, taking the train to Cardiff and/or Caerphilly? One a map it looks like it would save at least energy to do this. I checked the price of rail tickets and seems to be about 14 pounds each return from Abergavenny.

Thanks

Posted by
16765 posts

I still haven't delved into the transportation details for my own trip to Wales later this year, but I understand that rail fares can rise very, very rapidly as you approach the date of travel. So I'd suggest checking what today's price would be if you bought a ticket to travel late today, just so you know the (approximate) maximum cost of the train trip. That's about what you'll pay if you are not in a position to pin down your exact departure time in advance. If you've already done that and the last-minute price is 14 GBP round-trip, that sounds like a good deal!

Posted by
109 posts

We have always gotten our tickets three months out to take advantage of the lower fares.

Thank you for your reply.

Posted by
1834 posts

You have indeed made a very good choice of where to stay = a quiet valley in the Black Mountains. The road up to Llanthony is quite good but take any bends slowly. When you go beyond Llanthony, the road becomes narrower and sometimes you have to reverse to a passing place. If you venture up this road, you will come to the tiny Chapel at Capel-Y-Fin = well worth going inside and signing the visitors book. Continuing northward, the road climbed out of the valley and over the Gospel Pass from where you get sweeping views northward. Eventually, it descends to Hay-On-Wye. So, this route is well worth driving - providing you can drive backwards if need be to passing places. You could return south to Llanthony via another route.

Now to answer your query. You can indeed take the train to Cardiff and to visit the middle of Cardiff plus Cardiff Castle/ Museum and the Bay area, the train would be more convenient than using a car. You could also buy a ticket from Abergavenny to Caerphilly which is £14.80 (pay on the day return) - Cardiff is £14.30 pay on the day return. If you buy the ticket through to Caerphilly, change at Cardiff Central & your Caerphily train should go from platform 6 - roughly every 20 minutes - less on Sundays. When you return to Cardiff, I would get off at Queen Street Station. Now, because you have a through ticket to Abergavenny, it will not open the barrier - so go to a staff member & say you have a Caerphilly to Abergavenny ticket but wish to now see Cardiff on your way back. They will then open the barrier without using the ticket. You will need to do the same thing when going through the gates at Cardiff Central. However, you may wish to also consider making a separate trip to Cardiff by car from your base. If doing this, you could then cover these places around Cardiff > Caerphilly Castle > Castell Coch (on northern edge of Cardiff) > join M4 at J32 and off at J33 to A4232 for just over 1 mile - left (hard) turn into St.Fagans Castle & Museum (which takes at least 2 hours to see). You might even be able to add Dyffryn Gardens - which is about a 12 minute drive from St.Fagans Museum. If driving to these places, I would take A465 to Abergavenny and then A465 towards Merthyr & then follow signs for Cardiff via A470. At the approaches to Cardiff, you will see the sign for Caerphilly. When you leave to return to Llanthony, head east on the M4 to J24 & follow A449 to Raglan & then A40 to Abergavenny for A465 back to base. (The A4042 route from Newport to Abergavenny is shorter but has many roundabouts).

At Abergavenny rail station, there is a shortage of parking on the town side. Look at this satellite view of the station:> https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@51.8171605,-3.0089734,371m/data=!3m1!1e3!5m1!1e1

You will see the A465 coming down from Llanfihangel Crucorney - which is at the entrance to the Llanthony valley. Can you see cars parked in a lay-by on this road? Most of these people have left their cars here in order to catch the trains, If you wished to use free parking on this road, I would drive down to the roundabout at Abergavenny and loop back northwards and use the lay-by that is on the station side of the main road. (Vehicles are travelling at up to 60mph on this road). You will find a rough track (be careful) leading to a footbridge at Abergavenny station. Go into the station to purchase your tickets. Then back over the bridge to the southbound platform.

I would also consider going the other way on the train - to Ludlow. Pay on the day off peak (10am+ Mon>Fri) return is £19.90. On the way back, consider stopping at Hereford - though it is almost a mile from the station to the centre/cathedral. (Same thing at the ticket barrier as advised earlier). http://www.ludlow.org.uk

Also consider going down a coal mine (free as part of museum service).https://museum.wales/bigpit/
https://museum.wales/stfagans/
http://cadw.gov.wales/daysout/castell-coch/?lang=en
http://www.breconbeacons.org

Posted by
4128 posts

James,
You have been wonderful with your detailed guidance on Wales. We will be in south Wales for five days, with two in Cardiff, two in Tenby and one at Llanddewi Brefi. Prior to Wales we have three nights in Bath and will take in Tintern Abbey in route to Cardiff (we will have a rental car). There are so many castles in Wales, it is hard to choose the ones to visit.

After Tintern Abbey, we will visit either Raglan Castle or Chepstow. The next day we will see Cardiff and its castle and either Caerphilly Castle or St. Fagans National History Museum. Llandaff Cathedral is a good one as well. That might be too much in one day, so if we miss St. Fagans that day, we will visit on our way to Tenby.

While at Tenby we will visit St. David's Castle then proceed to my ancestor's home in 1716 Llanddewi Brefi. After that we proceed to Chipping Campden with more castles and sights to see in route.

Posted by
109 posts

James, thank you very much. I was hoping you would answer because you are always so clear and concise
I used the map and do see the layby. Makes sense.
My husband and I do the pit tour in June of 2000 when we took our then teenage son over. My grandfather was a coal miner, my grandmother was born in Gifach Goch. We wanted to show him his heritage. The tour was very interesting and although I know it must have changed since we did it in 2000 I would highly recommend it. Thank you for the suggestion.

While we have used the train on virtually every/;...l trip we have taken we have not done the day trip thing much....and then it was just one destination. I want to be sure I understand what you are saying....please forgive my lack of confidence in myself, but we are still neophytes.

If we purchase a round trip ticket from Abergavenny to Caerphilly we will go via Cardiff. We can travel straight through to Caerphilly and tour the castle. On the way back when we change trains in Cardiff we can interrupt the trip back to Abergavenny and do our touring...arriving back at the station to catch the train back to Abergavenny. We would be paying the round trip of about 14 pounds each for this. When we get these tickets are they a flexible time or a time certain on the returns?

Posted by
1834 posts

geovagriffith & Ann - many thanks for your kind words. I know that usually Americans answer the questions but that sometimes they get it wrong - so it helps when the Brits chip in.

Regarding the train tickets:> the Anytime return ticket can be bought on the day at the prices given. (If going north to Ludlow, you will not be able to get the lower price until the 10.01 departure from Abergavenny). No such restriction appears for the trains going the other way to Cardiff & beyond. You can break your journey in Cardiff as it is cheaper to buy a through ticket to Caerphilly than have split tickets with Cardiff being the split point. However, as stated, ticket barriers exist at Cardiff Central and Queen Street stations - so do not put ticket in the slot but see a staff member and say you are breaking your journey. Don’t forget, you get the schedules at www.nationalrail.co.uk and if you click DETAILS, it will tell you about switching trains in Cardiff. If you are going to Caerphilly first, on your return to Cardiff, my advice is to get off at Queen Street* and walk to the Castle but maybe see the museum first. Then explore the main shopping area where you will find old arcades plus modern shopping malls before return to the Central Station for train back to Abergavenny. (The area by the Central station is currently undergoing a massive reconstruction). Make sure you know the departure times of trains to Abergavenny from Cardiff Central. They will probably depart from platform 2 and are usually heading to Manchester or Holyhead.

  • Should you wish to visit Cardiff Bay (not a beach), a shuttle train operates between Queen Street (Platform 1) and Cardiff Bay station and it takes 4 minutes. You could purchase a return ticket from the ticket office at Caerphilly for £2.60 - make sure they know it is for Cardiff Queen Street to Cardiff Bay & not Caerphilly as you are already covered for that leg. However, doing Caerphilly plus central Cardiff & Castle along with the Bay is starting to push it. No train runs from Cardiff Bay to Cardiff Central - only Queen Street. Bus number 6 does connect the city centre / Central Station with the Bay - they don’t give change! Ferries also go from Bute Park (west side of Castle) to the Bay every 30 minutes and take about 26 minutes. http://www.visitcardiff.com/seedo/mermaid-quay/

On the train routes mentioned, there are no cheap advance singles offered. Such tickets generally only show up for longer journeys of over 1 hour. Here are the terms of the Anytime Return:>http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/times_fares/ticket_types/46550.aspx

At Caerphilly, just leave the station and walk down the main street to the Castle - traffic signs might point another way!

Posted by
1834 posts

‘geovagritth’ If going from Bath to Tintern, it would be more logical to probably see Chepstow Castle first - at least from the outside. I would also walk onto the Wye bridge to see the Castle - the middle in the marks the border between Wales & England. However, be careful when trying to leave the Castle car park in Chepstow as the one way system around the old town is not well signp[osted back to the A466 for Tintern. This map of Chepstow may help - the Castle car park will show up if you click Satellite view. However, first note the directions of the arrows in the one way streets. https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@51.6426764,-2.678022,17z/data=!5m1!1e1

It takes about 1 hour 30 minutes driving time from Cardiff to Tenby (100 miles). On the way, just before Carmarthen, you might like to detour (only about 6 minutes off expressway) to this place:>https://botanicgarden.wales

When in Tenby, a visit to Caldy Island is recommended (if sea is calm). For some odd reason - Google have only put the Welsh name on their maps. Also, W of Tenby are many wonderful beaches & cliffs. I would head for Bosherston, park by the church and walk past the lily pools to the coast - then turn east & go to Barafundle Bay. See this map:> https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@51.6479055,-4.832605,14029m/data=!3m1!1e3!5m1!1e1
https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/stackpole

Posted by
109 posts

James, thank you.
You are a gentleman and a scholar.

Posted by
1834 posts

Ann - click this link & you should see a street view of the lay-by and track down to Abergavenny station from the A465. The view is looking north and if you drag to the R you will see that the lay-by is very full of cars. (When I checked it out, it had only half that number).https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@51.8167208,-3.0083882,3a,75y,347.12h,65.68t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sxkANIpSA23xChqO7Sk0wlQ!2e0!7i13312!8i6656!5m1!1e1

If you drag the street view the other way, you can see the steps to the footbridge at Abergavenny station. Now, if you click forward, you eventually reach the lay-by on the other side of the main road. The track from here is less pronounced & I think it is by the white stick. Anyway, the whole provision for parking at Abergavenny rail station is ridiculous. The station car park on the town side appears to be usually full - though you could leave your car in some back streets outside houses - as long as not on yellow lines/causing an obstruction.

Posted by
351 posts

I was at Tintern and Chepstow Castle a couple of weeks ago and second James' suggestion to stop at the Castle if you have time. It's a very nice example of a Norman castle with later (13th c?) expansion that was surprisingly and delightfully untouched by Victorian "restorers" and 20th C tourist "improvements"