March 2, 2016 | Ffestiniog Travel
With Welsh men and women around the world celebrating their national day – St. David’s Day – on 1 March, and dazzling displays of the Welsh national flower (the daffodil) starting to pop up across the UK in a clear sign that Spring is on its way, what better time than now to start planning a visit to Wales?
As renowned for the warmth of its welcome as it is for its spectacular scenery, strong sense of cultural identity and rich history, Wales offers something for everyone – whether visiting for a few days or taking a little longer to explore. And for train enthusiasts in particular, there can be few more fascinating countries through which to travel, using some of Wales’ impressive heritage railways that include the world’s oldest narrow gauge railway, the Ffestiniog Railway, and the UK’s longest and newest narrow gauge railway, the Welsh Highland Railway.
Based in Penrhyndeudraeth in the Welsh county of Gwynedd since 1974, rail holiday expert Ffestiniog Travel arranges tailor-made itineraries and escorted tours across the UK, Europe and worldwide, including a tempting selection of short breaks and longer trips in Wales. Owned by a Charitable Trust, Ffestiniog Travel is also proud of its connections to two of the country’s most famous heritage railways, its profits going to support its sister company, the famous Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways. This association gives Ffestiniog Travel the opportunity to provide its customers with unequalled access to areas of these railways not usually open to members of the public.
Journey through Wales with the experts on a tailor-made holiday or escorted tour with Ffestiniog Travel, choosing from itineraries that include:
‘Behind the Scenes in North Wales’: DEPARTS 15 MARCH – PLACES STILL AVAILABLE!
Last-minute bookings are still being accepted on this 14-night escorted tour – departing 15 March – that offers the opportunity to see sights not normally experienced by the average passenger, as well as enjoying ‘access all areas’ privileges, footplate rides and the chance to learn more about the history of many of North Wales’ railways, from miniature to standard gauge.
Highlights include footplate rides on the Ffestiniog, Rhyl Miniature, Llanberis Lake, Welsh Highland Heritage, Fairbourne, Talyllyn, Vale of Rheidol and Corris Railways; visits to Arriva Trains Wales’ maintenance facilities and the National Rail signal box in Machynlleth; a scenic journey along the Cambrian Coast; tours of the remnants of former railways around Porthmadog and the North Wales coast; a slate shunting experience; and guided tours and insights from railway staff and volunteers.
Departing 15 March, the price is from £1,910 pp (two sharing) including B&B in Llangollen (two nights), Machynlleth (three nights), Porthmadog (five nights), Caernarfon (two nights) and Llandudno (two nights), four lunches, seven dinners, rail travel, excursions, transfers, private charter trains and footplate rides as per the itinerary, and the services of a tour leader throughout.
‘Behind the Scenes in North Wales’ can also be repeated throughout the year, on request, for private groups.
Ffestiniog Travel is now taking bookings for its 2017 ‘Behind the Scenes’ tours including a four-night ‘Ffestiniog Railway Behind the Scenes’ escorted holiday. For more details and/or to register your interest, please call Ffestiniog Travel on 01766 772 030 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wales – Steam, Castles & Mountains: DEPARTS 5 SEPTEMBER
Beginning in the historic capital city of Cardiff, this 12-night escorted tour travels north to scenic Snowdonia National Park, enjoying ample helpings of Welsh history and culture along the way, as well as rides on many of the ‘Great Little Trains of Wales’ and to experience heritage steam on the Snowdon Mountain Railway.
Further highlights include visits to Cardiff, Caerphilly, Powis and Caernarfon Castles, visits to the St Fagans National History Museum and the National Slate Museum in Llanberis, a relaxing canal cruise over the Pontcysyllte Acqueduct, a visit to the famous Portmeirion Village (famous for its decorative pottery and starring role in the 1960s cult TV series, ‘The Prisoner’) and an after-dinner talk by the Ffestiniog Railway & Welsh Highland Railway’s General Manager, Mr Paul Lewin.
Departing 5 September, the price is from £1,630 pp (two sharing) including B&B in Cardiff (three nights), Machynlleth (three nights), Llangollen (two nights), Caernafon (two nights) and Porthmadog (two nights), seven lunches, four evening meals, all railway excursions as per the itinerary, entrance to all castles, museums and Portmeirion Village, canal boat cruise and the services of a tour leader throughout.
With its roots firmly planted in North Wales, and as sister company to the world-famous Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways, Ffestiniog Travel is perfectly placed to arrange short breaks to this delightful country, creating itineraries that offer the opportunity to experience its many steam railway gems. Whether travelling solo, as a couple, family, as part of a group of friends or with fellow train enthusiasts on a special interest holiday, there is a wide range of options available, including:
Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways Mini Break: this three-night break costs from £320 pp (two sharing) including B&B in Porthmadog and return journeys on the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways. Alternatively, choose a deluxe version of this mini break, adding three dinners in the hotel’s 2AA Rosette restaurant and an upgrade to reserved first class seats on the return journeys of the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways – from £455 pp (two sharing).
Welsh Highland Heritage Railway Special Event Package: this two-night break, based in the harbour town of Porthmadog, focuses entirely on the Welsh Highland Heritage Railway. It can also be timed to coincide with one of the many special events run by the railway such as ‘Steam in the Sheds’ (July) and spooky Halloween fun in October. The price is from £170 for a family of four (two adults, two children) including room-only accommodation and a family ticket for the Welsh Highland Railway. Footplate passes are also available for an additional £10 pp, enabling adults to ride up front with the driver for the whole journey.
Llangollen: this two-night break introduces visitors to the delights of the area around the vibrant town of Llangollen.
Enjoy a relaxing horse-drawn boat trip on the beautiful Llangollen canal, a return journey on the 7.5 mile Llangollen Railway and a two-hour cruise across the famous Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The price is from £210 pp (two sharing) including B&B and the excursions mentioned. The Gwili Steam Railway & Heart of Wales Line: based in historic Camarthen, this three-night break blends beautiful mid-Wales scenery with a journey on the Heart of the Wales railway line and the nostalgic charms of the Gwili Steam Railway, the first standard gauge preserved railway to operate in South West Wales. The price is from £240 pp (two sharing) including B&B and return rail journeys on both lines.
The Talyllyn and Welshpool & Llanfair Railways: the market town of Machynlleth is your base for this three-night mini break that samples Welsh culture in the heart of the country, whilst also featuring journeys on two heritage railway lines in the area, both passing through wonderful Welsh countryside with the chance to spot deer, hawks and otters in their natural habitat. The price is from £280 pp (two sharing) including B&B and return rail journeys as per the itinerary.
For further information on Ffestiniog Travel’s Welsh itineraries as well as its worldwide range of escorted tours, tailor-made holidays, ticket-only arrangements and Special Interest Tour planning service, or to request a copy of the Rail Holidays of the World 2016 brochure, call 01766 772 030 or visit www.ffestiniogtravel.com. The brochure can also be viewed here.