Chepstow, Tintern Abbey, Raglan Castle, Brecon Beacons National Park, Big Pit Coal Mine, Cardiff, St Fagans Museum of Welsh Life
4 days/3 nights from London
This superb, short tour will introduce you to the very best of South Wales. Focusing on one area of this wonderful country, you’re sure to have a personal, in-depth experience. It’s the ideal tour for those who really want to get off the beaten track on the discovery trail.
“I never realized that Wales was such a beautiful country…tour of Wales was a revelation. Traveling with the small group of us in our trusty mini-van was definitely the way to see it! Thanks… ” Jessie Strom (2004)
“I’m so pleased that I’ve finally discovered Wales. It’s my 51st country and few of the 50 preceding ones can beat it for such variety. My only regret is that I didn’t take the longer tour!” Martha Coffey (2006)
We will depart from our South Kensington London meeting point at approximately 9:00 and make our way across the border into Wales, speeding our way with a rare bit of motorway driving. Our first destination is Chepstow, a scenic town on the River Wye. The town’s castle was the first Norman stone castle in the country, set on a cliff top overlooking the valley. This is the area where Harry Potter author JK Rowling grew up.
Nearby is Tintern Abbey, one of the most beautifully situated ruins in the country and inspiration for one of William Wordsworth’s loveliest poems.
Also today visit Caerleon, former base of the Roman legion. Here are the remains of some of the barracks and amphitheatre, the only one completely excavated in Britain.
Overnight: Usk area
Today will be spent exploring the highlights of Brecon Beacons National Park. There’ll be a welcome in these hillsides as the traditional song goes. This is an area of amazing scenery dotted with lovely market towns, a heritage cathedral and a whisky distillery. There’s the option of a book lovers paradise, all as time and interest permits. We will surely visit Big Pit Coal Mine Museum – plunge down into the earth in the company of a former miner! The industrial heritage of the region is memorably captured in the great novel How Green Was My Valley and in Alexander Cordell’s historical novels.
Overnight: Usk area, as above
See the highlights of Cardiff, the cosmopolitan capital city. Discover this city of Roald Dahl and Dr Who fame on a walking tour of the Docklands area with your guide. Also enjoy some free time to visit as you choose. Dr Who fans may choose the interactive museum Dr Who Experience. Those with more traditional tastes may choose to see Cardiff Castle. The foundations of the castle date back to 50AD, and the imposing building walled with elaborate gargoyles is a 19th century gothic fantasy. We recommend lunch in one of Cardiff’s markets, two great farmers’ markets offers a range of organic, local and fair-trade products as well as favorite local treats.
Also see the open-air Museum of Welsh Life in the village of St Fagans. This fascinating mirror of hundreds of years of Welsh life embraces dozens of authentic buildings, removed from all corners of the country and painstakingly and faithfully rebuilt and refurbished here. Houses, churches and chapels, a mill, bakery, pubs and even a school, have been wonderfully preserved.
If we manage spare time this afternoon, we could meander via the Vale of Glamorgan. Here are a variety of religious sites, rugged coastline where smugglers lured ships to the rocks, a vineyard for a wine sample or perhaps cross 13th century stepping stones. Spoilt for choice!
Overnight: Usk area, as above
Explore Raglan Castle ruins, stroll this place of inspiration for poets and musicians and seen in the Led Zeppelin film Song Remains the Same. Built in the 1430s and featuring great multi-angular towers and Tudor-styling, Raglan is unlike any other castle in Wales.
This afternoon, even more lovely scenery in this ‘undiscovered’ region of Wales, the Black Mountains, where we may find time for some hidden Border castles and the oldest pub in the country. We will make our way back to London via Gloucester and the lower Cotswolds villages. We return to London this evening.
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.