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Southern Wales in One Day

On Thursday, 18 June, we'll be leaving Bath to make a one-day adventure of south Wales. Castles, culture, history are our primary interests. We'll have a car. Here's what I've laid out, using RS, RS Forum, and Trip Advisor, along with Google Maps. I know it is jammed packed. Are the driving times about right? Is it doable? Way too rushed?

Depart Bath 8:30.
Arrive St. Fagans Natural History Museum 10:00. Spend 2 hours (10:00-12:00)
Arrive Cardiff Castle 12:30. Spend 1.5 hours (12:30-2:00)
Arrive Caerphilly Castle 2:30. Spend 1 hour (2:30-3:30)
Arrive Tintern Abbey 4:30. Spend 1 hour (4:30-5:30)
Arrive Parva Farmhouse B&B 5:45. Whew.

Edit: After reading Pam's remarks, I need to say that we'll have a full breakfast in Bath and a big dinner in the evening. We won't be stopping for lunch (maybe a bite to eat while driving). Also need to say that often we just hit the day and go, go, go. This will be one of those . . . no breaks needed.

Posted by
8429 posts

It has been a long time since I visited St Fagans but I would want more time there. I would suggest you pick 2 from your list and allow yourselves time to eat and have a comfort stop or 2 along the way.

Posted by
234 posts

I got the driving times from Google Maps.

Bath to St. Fagans 1.15 hr
St. Fagans to Cardiff Castle 15 min
Cardiff Castle to Caerphilly Castle 25 min
Caerphilly Castle to Tintern Abbey 50 min

Are they too short?

Posted by
1838 posts

I know the roads - and the timings are about right. It is quite a packed day & as Parva Farmouse is only a few minutes drive from the ruins of Tintern Abbey, you perhaps could see Tintern the following morning - when the sun will be in a different place. Having said that, I have never paid to go into Tintern Abbey as it is best seen from outside - and does not take long to view - but, it is impressive.

You leave the M4 at Junction 33 for St.Fagans and take the A4232 expressway. Not long after you pass under electricity pylons, you will see the brown signs for St.Fagans - SLOW DOWN in the slip lane as the turning is very sharp (10mph advised). St.Fagans is undergoing a big new project but the Castle & grounds are as good as ever.

Now, when you leave St.Fagans for Cardiff Castle, you need to exit via the left fork from the car park and turn left at first junction to go up the hill - bearing right at top of hill. (DO NOT cross the level crossing - even if the satnav tells you to).Then just carry straight on through every junction for about 3 miles. Eventually you see parkland on your left & go down Cathedral Road - which has large Victorian Houses. Look out for signs saying 'Sophia Gardens'. (It will be the first left after 'The Cricketers' pub). At mini roundabout turn right to enter car park. (You must decide how long you are going to stay & pay in advance at a machine & put ticket in windscreen - I would allow 3 hours). Then, it is a 10 minute walk over the footbridge across the river & through a park exiting by the Pettigrew Tea Rooms.

An alternative to the above route is to leave St.Fagans the same way which which you entered and turn left when you reach the A4232 expressway. It is then a 13 minute drive to Cardiff Bay.
So, you could see this area before driving up to the city center & Cardiff Castle. (Coming up from the Bay, the car park under John Lewis is probably your best bet - with a 10 minute walk through modern shopping malls and /or/ Victorian Arcades to reach Cardiff Castle). Ferries also operate from Mermaid Quay almost to the Castle but these take 30 minutes each way.

On the way to Caerphilly, you may wish to visit Castell Coch - which is just N of M4 J32.

A short cut from Castell Coch to Caerphilly takes some narrow back roads. If you are confident to use these - turn hard left when coming down the drive from Castell Coch. At the 'Black Cock' Inn - bear right. Turn left at next junction for Caerphilly. The town is not up to much but the castle is a massive medieval fortress surrounded by a moat.

Try and find the routes on Google Earth.

Posted by
234 posts

Pam and Emma, thanks for the suggestions to allow more time and to be mindful of how quickly all the little things we do when traveling eat up time. We're going to see how it plays out, and skip Caerphilly Castle if need be.

James, I appreciate all the details on how to get around. Castel Coch sound like a possible stop if everything is working out time wise. Since we'll be staying 5 minutes from Tintern Abbey, we may just go to that the next morning before heading out to the Cotswolds.


Posted by
1838 posts

If you intend to skip Caerphilly Castle, I would be inclined to see Castell Coch first - just leave the M4 at junction 32 & the Castle is just north of the motorway. (Look at the road configuration on Google Earth as it is a bit complicated - you have to enter the village of Tongwynlais - which has some horrible humps). It is also best to see Castell Coch early morning as that is when the sun is in the best position for photos). Having done CC, just return to the M4 and head west to the next junction (33) for the A4232 and the turn off for St.Fagans.

Don't forget, that Chepstow (south of Tintern), also has a Castle. A good view of this can be had from the bridge over the river Wye.
Between Chepstow & Tintern is the village of St.Arvans (on A466). The first turn-off after St.Arvans (on the Tintern side) is a minor road that leads in a short distance to a free parking area. (It should be signposted 'Wyncliff'). A 15 minute walk up the track from the car park leads to the 'Eagles Nest' = a viewpoint high above the Wye Valley.

Posted by
234 posts

Very helpful info, James. I love taking photos with great lighting . . .it's the getting up early that's rough.