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Southern Wales by Train

My husband and I are heading to the UK for 10 days in October. While most our stay will be London based, we are planning two days in the Cotswolds, and are hoping to then take a train from Bath and spend 1 or 2 days/nights in Wales. My husband isn't so much interested in Cardiff as he is in the Welsh countryside. Since we're traveling by train, are there any suggestions as to where we might stay? I was originally thinking one night in Cardiff (to see the castle) and then one night in Chepstow (to view more castles and Tintern Abbey) Does this sound reasonable or should we head in a different direction. I'm not interested in heading North as that will eat up most of a day heading back to London and our time is limited.

Thanks for any tips.

Posted by
9110 posts

Does it have to be just rail?

There's not a rail line up the Wye, so Tintern is out. I'm not sure you can get to Chepstow except from Cardiff or maybe Newport.

There is a line from Cardiff to Caerphilly . I'd pick that castle over Cardiff in a heartbeat. It's way smaller than Chepstow, but almost as good.

Posted by
5 posts

Not tied to a train so much as not wanting to rent a car. Originally I was going to stay in Cardiff for both nights and take a tour into the country. Would this be the best idea?

Posted by
5 posts

Not tied to a train so much as not wanting to rent a car. Originally I was going to stay in Cardiff for both nights and take a tour into the country. Would this be the best idea?

Posted by
9110 posts

I don't use public transportation much, so I can't work out a schedule but:

Chepstow and Caerphilly are two good castles and they're reachable from Cardiff by rail.

Chepstow castle is located right on the Wye A guess it that the train to get out there from Cardiff would take less than an hour. The village is okay, but not worth a whole day. From where I think the station is, it's about a ten-minute walk up to the castle.

Caerphilly castle is also about a ten-minute walk from the station and I'd imagine it's a fifteen or twenty minute shot on the train. Both the castle and the town are larger than Chepstow.

I don't get too excited about Cardiff except for the area around the harbor and the National Museum which is small, but excellent. I put off walking out to the castle for years -- and probably should have put if off for eternity. Still, if I were going to spend two nights in the same place without a car, it'd get the nod. On the other hand, I've spent months in the Principality over the years and don't plan to stop going back.

Posted by
1834 posts

You can go by train from Bath to Chepstow but it involves a change and can take 2 hours. You can also go by bus from Chepstow to Tintern to see the ruins of the Abbey in the beautiful Wye Valley. Train schedules here:> www.nationalrail.co.uk
To find buses:> www.transportdirect.info

However, I reckon you will see far more with less travelling by going direct to Cardiff form Bath > trains every hour & takes 1 hour. Yes, Wales does have some stunning countryside but not really around Cardiff although it is nice enough. About 35 miles N of Cardiff is the Brecon Beacons National Park but that is best reached by car - in about 40 minutes via the A470 expressway. But, I would suggest that by being based in Cardiff, that you would have plenty to occupy 2 days. (try & avoid Sundays as less buses).

Day 1 = Bus 32/320 to St.Fagans = the first village W of Cardiff. Visit (free) - www.museumwales.ac.uk/stfagans
(Be sure you know times of return buses & note that if using the village stop - use the one on Cardiff Road rather than outside the Church. Electronic signs in the car park bus stop tell you when they go). Anyway, to see St.Fagans Castle & grounds will half a day including journey from city (about 18 minutes). On return to city, get off at first stop after river and go to Cardiff Castle = www.cardiffcastle.com
Having done the Castle, wander around the city centre = modern malls & old arcades or go to www.museumwales.ac.uk/cardiff (closed Mondays).

Day 2 = take train (17 minutes) from either Central or Queen Street to Caerphilly. Caerphilly is not particularly attractive but the medieval castle certainly is worth seeing.http://cadw.wales.gov.uk/daysout/caerphilly-castle/?lang=en
Now, you could return on the train to Cardiff - and if so, you could go straight to Cardiff Bay with 1 change at Queen Street. However, you may wish to see Castell Coch which is just above the village of Tongwynlais in north Cardiff. Frequent buses (Stagecoach 26) go from Caerphilly to Tongwynlais from which it is about a 15 minute walk up to the Castle.http://cadw.wales.gov.uk/daysout/castell-coch/?lang=en Having done Castell Coch, back to Cardiff by bus.

From Cardiff Centre, bus 6 (every 10 minutes) does a loop that includes Cardiff Bay. http://www.cardiffharbour.com

If you want to go on guided tours further afield, consider > www.seewales.com

If going back to London /Heathrow from Cardiff, train fares are cheaper by advance booking. The train company is > www.firstgreatwestern.co.uk

www.visitcardiff.com

Posted by
5 posts

Thank you for all the suggestions. We've definitely decided to do Caerphilly instead of Chepstow Castle. After talking with some colleagues who lived in Wales, we decided to take a day trip to Abergavenny. We'll use Cardiff as our home base for both days.

I'm printing out all the info you have shared - this is invaluable. Especially the train and bus info. Thank you!

Posted by
1834 posts

If going to Abergavenny from/to Cardiff, I would use the trains as they are much faster = about 40 minutes with at least 1 per hour. The station in Abergavenny is about 1Km from the town centre.

You might like to consider doing a roughly triangular route: Cardiff > Abergavenny by train. Walk to Abergavenny centre & have a look around. Then bus to Brecon = Stagecoach X43. This will take you into the scenic Brecon Beacons National Park. Then, having looked around Brecon, Stagecoach bus T4 back to Cardiff via the A470 - which crosses the Brecon Beacons. Do route in reverse if timings more suitable.
http://www.breconbeacons.org/about
http://planner.traveline-cymru.info/pdfs/timetables/PWBT004.PDF

Posted by
5 posts

That sounds like a wonderful suggestion! I think we will try that. I'm getting so eager to go now. Jammed packed itinerary I fear, but we're looking forward to being pleasantly exhausted.

Posted by
11677 posts

We spent three nights near Abergavenny last month and it was lovely. there is a Michelin-star restaurant just out of town (the Walnut Tree) if you are interested (we did not go ourselves).

I think it was an Arriva train in Wales that we almost didn't get off in time---train came to a stop and we were right there with our luggage but couldn't figure out how to open the door. There was no button. Then I looked up and above the door was a sign explaining that we had to lower the window, reach out, and open the door with the latch on the outside.