Wales-Ireland: Coasts and Rivers

Amazing scenery and lovely local people on both sides of the Irish Sea

7 days beginning/ending in Dublin

Sometimes called ‘The Celtic Fringe,’ the southeast coast of Ireland and the west coast of Wales have much to offer visitors. The areas share a beautiful, rugged coastline and amazing natural sites where we can explore the remains of the ancient peoples that settled here. There is a rich religious legacy to discover, both Celtic and Christian. Separated by the Irish Sea, each maintains its own unique culture and heritage. We can compare, contrast and enjoy the hospitality of the gracious local people. We’ll see waterfalls, rivers, national parks, glorious gardens, a fairy tale castle, and several lovely towns.

TENTATIVE ITINERARY

Day 1              Sunday

Depart the lovely city of Dublin at approximately 09:00. The Wicklow Mountains are the beautiful ‘backyard’ of Dublin’s fair city. This is an area that has long exercised an attraction on those seeking solitude and contemplation. Monks settled here as early as 545 AD.

Passing through the Wicklow Gap, we’ll enter into the secluded and seductive valley of Glendalough and the beautiful Glendalough National Park. Remains of an 11th century cathedral, several churches and a 110ft (33m) round tower are all that’s left of the monastic settlement that called this area home. Given Ireland’s bounty of natural beauty, Glendalough must surely be one of its loveliest retreats.

Overnight: Wexford area, Eastern Ireland

 

Day 2              Monday

Rosslare – Pembroke FERRY: 08.45/12.46 ferries times subject to change based on current schedules

An early start today as we take to the sea, from the Emerald Isle across to Pembrokeshire, West Wales. Our introduction to Wales will be a scenic drive around the coast of St Brides Bay, from Pembroke Port to Britain’s smallest city of St David’s. Set in a valley below the tiny city, the splendid Cathedral and Bishops Palace have an inspiring atmosphere. Pilgrims have been welcomed here for centuries. We can also see the nearby chapel of St David at St Nons.

Overnight: St David’s area, West Wales

 

Day 3              Tuesday

Through the Preseli Hills, reputedly the source of the stones for Stonehenge, is the famed site of Pentre Ifan burial chamber. This is Pembrokeshire’s flagship ancient site and is deservedly famous. The chamber is set on the side of Carn Ingli and overlooks sweeping Newport Bay.

Nevern is another important sacred destination and we’ll spend some time in the church, with its ‘bleeding’ Yew tree and Celtic cross. We will also see some very important inscribed Ogham stones.

The rest of today will be spent in the lovely wonders of the coastal Pembroke National Park. Our touring options include Neolithic remains, ancient burial chambers, Celtic and Christian heritage sites, a working woolen mill and some lovely towns and villages along rugged coastlines with stunning sea views. A great opportunity to sample the fresh local seafood for lunch! For those that wish, a walk along the coastal path is possible too.

Overnight: St David’s area, West Wales

 

 

Day 4              Wednesday

We’ll be exploring the mystical West Wales coastline, an area full of tales of legendary Welsh heroes, an area alternatively rugged and pretty with its quaint harbours and towns such as the Victorian resort of Aberystwyth, known for its university.

This afternoon, some driving through the amazing scenery of Snowdonia National Park. This is one of dominating peaks, the highest in England and Wales, featuring narrow mountain passes, flowing streams, cascading waterfalls, sheep-covered uplands and verdant, hidden valleys. Certainly, an ancient Welsh culture and language still thrives here, waiting for you to discover!

Subject to availability, we can visit the Colwyn Male Voice Choir rehearsal this evening. Their regular schedule is practice on Wednesdays and Sundays pending any concerts they might have scheduled.

Overnight: Llandudno, North Wales

 

 

Day 5  ND       Thursday

Today, you will have the whole day to relax and explore your surroundings at your leisure. Your guide will be on hand for an optional walking tour and advice for the day’s options but what you do today is totally up to you!

Llandudno, our overnight location, is an elegant Victorian seaside resort. The pier is a lovely place for a walk, dotted with cafes and a nice place to watch the boats go by. Then there’s a pier-side theatre, the wide, flower-filled promenade, the imposing Victorian buildings that face the sea and the covered shopping streets are all reminiscent of a bygone age. The town also boasts a funicular railway that you may choose to ride to the top of the Great Orme, where you’ll get splendid views of the Snowdonia countryside.

It’s just a short distance to the charming town of Conwy via the hop-on/hop-off bus or local public transport. Conwy’s wall was erected in the 12th century by Norman conquerors and with the massive castle dominating one corner, it makes this harbour town one of the most interesting in the UK.

Alternatively, you can hop on a train and spend time in the English town of Chester, another walled city, founded by the Romans along the River Dee. There’s plenty to enjoy here such as a fine cathedral, Roman remains including part of an amphitheatre and shopping opportunities in the unique mediaeval ‘rows.’

Dinner is not included tonight for flexibility’s sake.

Overnight: Llandudno, North Wales, as above

 

Day 6              Friday

Garden lovers are in for a treat visiting Bodnant Gardens. Quoting from their own website, it’s “one of the most beautiful gardens in the UK”, spanning some 80 acres and situated above the River Conwy. The upper garden around Bodnant Hall consists of the terraced gardens and informal lawns shaded by trees. The lower portion, known as the “The Dell,” is formed by the valley of the River Hiraethlyn and contains ‘the wild garden.’

Later, visit Bodnant Farm to sample the best of local Welsh food specialties. Dedicated to showcasing the very best of Welsh food and drink, Bodnant Welsh Food features both in-house and carefully selected local producers. Within the centre, our group can visit the award winning farm shop and sample Bodnant’s own produce, local cheeses and treats such as Welsh cakes.

The remains of our day can be spent around Snowdonia National Park. There are a variety of natural wonders to explore and several heritage attractions available to ‘Meet the Locals’ as time permits. In our small vehicle, it is easy to get off the beaten track, down paths that will have you gasping! We might choose to visit one of the local craftspeople – a local Welsh winery, a cheese farm, a woolen mill or a Lovespoon wood carver.

Overnight: Llandudno, North Wales, as above

 

Day 7              Saturday

The iconic castle of Caernarfon, a fairy tale like structure built as part of Edward I domination programme of the 13th Century, is our first port of call today. Caernarfon is possibly the most famous of Wales’s 641 castles. Its sheer scale and commanding presence easily set it apart from the rest, and to this day, still trumpet in no uncertain terms the intention of its builder. The castle’s majestic persona is no architectural accident, it was designed as the dream castle, ‘the fairest that ever man saw’ of Welsh myth and legend.

This ancient and mystic island of Angelsey offers an astounding wealth of attractions including prehistoric burial chambers and monuments, Celtic and Viking settlements, fabulous flora and forna, and the village with the World’s longest name – Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerchwyrndrobwllllandysilliogogogoch. The island’s geography is a natural haven for birds, with its wildly contrasting variety of sheer cliffs, sheltered coves, estuaries, dunes, heaths, wetlands, lakes and woodlands. We have most of the day to explore before setting sail on the Swift ferry back to Ireland.

Holyhead – Dublin FERRY: 17.15/19.05 ferries times subject to change based on current schedules

This evening is free for you to enjoy your final night as you wish back in Dublin. Your guide will be on hand for a Literary Pub Crawl for those that wish it!

 

Oft imitated, never duplicated! This  is an original SGT itinerary, property of Special Group Tours and to be used only with express permission/in conjunction with SGT.

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Your tour package includes: services of a driver/guide/companion for 7 touring days, accommodation for 6 nights in 3 – 4 star properties with breakfast daily, 4 dinners, roundtrip ferry transport between Ireland and Wales, entrance fees to listed attractions while with your guide, tax, tolls and tips except those you may choose to offer your tour guide.