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Day trip to South Wales from Bath? No car - possible?

Hi All,

My brother and I will be staying for 4 nights in Bath and have scheduled a day trip to the Cotswolds already. We would like to also spend a day touring some castles and enjoying the natural beauty (Brecon Beacons most likely) in South Wales. Does anyone know if this is possible without a car? Ideally, we would like to take a mini-bus day tour. I know of Celtic Horizons already and their itinerary looks perfect. However, it seems that they do not offer mini-bus trips and frankly, my brother and I can't afford to hire them for just the two of us. Does anyone know of any other companies that may do 1-day tours from Bath (or even Bristol) that would be affordable?

We have considered renting a car for a long day trip, but neither my brother nor I have ever driven anywhere in Great Britain. The logistics of finding a car rental shop with good opening/closing hours has been difficult thus far (we would have to go on Saturday, July 1.) but we could make it work if necessary. If you recommend renting a car, what is your suggestion for the best travel route for seeing some good castles and natural beauty?

Thanks in advance.
Enjoy your weekend!
Gretchen

Posted by
1834 posts

You can easily take a day trip from Bath to Cardiff by train - trains are hourly and it takes about 1 hour. Pay on the day fare is £20.50 return. Some mini bus tours do go from Cardiff but these usually leave around 9am so it would be difficult for you to get over from Bath & do such a tour. Although you could drive from Bath to the Brecon Beacons in around 1 hour 50 minutes, it would be well nigh impossible to go to this area as a day trip from Bath using public transport. If you were to do it, your best bet would be to take the train to Abergavenny (change at Newport) and then local bus to Brecon. However, this would not really allow you to get out and take photos and you would be mainly travelling through the Usk valley rather than on mountain roads. Brecon in itself, does not warrant a visit - you would probably want to take the first bus out! You can find out the bus times here:> https://www.traveline.cymru
Note that the bus stop is not by Abergavenny station, but just a short walk away on the main road (A40). (Zoom on the map to see where it is if choosing this option).

So, lets assume that you go by train to Cardiff: I would consider buying a through ticket to Caerphilly - so arrive at Cardiff Central, go to Platform 6 (probably) and take (frequent except Sundays) local train to Caerphilly (it will probably have a final destination of Bargoed or Rhymney on the front). Caerphilly has a fine medieval castle but the town is a bit of a dump as it is in the former coal mining area. Anyway, then back to Cardiff - I would consider getting off at Queen Street. Your through return ticket to Bath won’t open the barrier - see member of staff & say you are having a break of journey. Then walk to Cardiff Castle - though you might wish to go via the museum. Cardiff Castle has a Norman Keep but much of the rest of it is Victorian.

(Checking the times/ fares for the Caerphilly line this weekend is impossible because it is closed for engineering work. Trains are usually every 20 minutes or so, less on Sundays).

Here is one company that does day tours from Cardiff in a minibus:> http://www.seewales.com/day-tours.asp

Please my response to this earlier query:>https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/wales/doctor-who-experience-c87e77a4-2879-434e-9dad-e9400c4ccdfb

Posted by
396 posts

I'd take the train to Cardiff and then the T4 bus to Brecon from the JP bus stop, close to the rail station. They even call it "the route with a view" - see the YouTube promotional video. You will want the summer timetable, found here. Be sure to select the correct day of the week in the top panel; on Sunday the buses go only on the farther end of the route, and not from Cardiff. Brecon is interesting to walk around rather than pretty: you can walk a good distance beside the canal (call in at the Theatre for a snack and art exhibition) or uphill to the interesting Cathedral with its own tearoom/restaurant.

Posted by
1834 posts

If you do take the T4 bus, Storey Arms is the place to get off if you wish to climb to the top of the Brecon Beacons - which are on the east side of the A470 but not actually visible from Storey Arms. (Be sure to tell the driver that you wish to get off at Storey Arms and for him/her to let you know).

It will take around 2 hours 30 minutes to get to the top of the Brecon Beacons and back to the bus stop again - so would have to allow ideally 3 hours for the hike. DO NOT try this in bad weather. If the sun is shining, be sure to have protection from burning as there is no cover.