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Mid Wales Scenic Rail & Steam Tour - Day 1

Welcome aboard our four day/three night Tour of narrow gauge steam railways in Mid Wales travelling from Shrewsbury on the Cambrian and Cambrian Coast Lines to take in the Welshpool & Llanfair, Vale of Rheidol, Fairbourne and Talyllyn Railways. 170 miles on a scenic rural and coastal railway and 30 miles on narrow gauge steam railways. We will be staying in Welshpool, Aberystwyth and Barmouth. Suggestions for overnight accommodation are in or very close to the towns (and their railway stations) that we will be visiting so that you can drop off your luggage when you arrive and not have to carry it around with you!

For each stage of the journey, there are notes available with points of interest along the line including old lines and stations that are now closed and, for the return journey, some details of services on our route from 50 or 60 years ago in the age of steam.

The itinerary is from Monday to Friday based on National Rail timetables from 15 December 2019 to 16 May 2020. Subsequent train times until December will probably be similar but will not be confirmed until nearer the time.

Welshpool & Llanfair Railway trains on the Tuesday run on 7 & 14 April and from 12 May to 29 September 2020. Vale of Rheidol Railway trains on the Wednesday run from 25 March to 28 October 2020. Fairbourne Railway Thursday trains run from 9 April to 29 October 2020 (“diesel train on demand” 8 - 22 October). The Friday trains on the Talyllyn Railway operate from 29 October 2020.

How to join the tour:-
From London Euston - Take the 08.43 to Birmingham International which arrives at 09.53 (or alternatively the 08.23 arriving at 09.33); the 10.09 train for Aberystwyth will be waiting for you on Platform 5.
From Birmingham & the West Midlands - Take the Aberystwyth train from Birmingham International at 10.09, New Street at 10.25, Wolverhampton at 10.43 or Telford at 11.00.
From Manchester Piccadilly - Take the 09.31 Carmarthen train to Shrewsbury (or from Crewe at 10.08) which arrives at 10.38.
From Cardiff Central - Leave on the 09.22 Holyhead train (09.36 Newport, 10.02 Abergavenny, 10.29 Hereford) which will arrive at Shrewsbury at 11.22; there is an earlier train from Cardiff at 08.50 arriving Shrewsbury 10.51.
From Shrewsbury - The Aberystwyth train leaves at 11.27.

Seating Notes - If you prefer to sit facing the direction of travel, the train leaves Shrewsbury in the opposite direction from which it arrives - so if you are facing the rear of the train at Birmingham, you will be facing the front of the train when we leave Shrewsbury!

 

Morning

We start the Tour with a short trip down the Cambrian Line to Welshpool (leaving Shrewsbury at 11.27, this takes about 20 minutes) to travel on the Welshpool & Llanfair Railway.

Journey notes available for rail enthusiasts - see Points of Interest Shrewsbury-Welshpool.

Shrewsbury railway station is the hub for many rail services to and from Wales.

Castle Foregate, Shrewsbury, SY1 2DQ

 

Mid Wales Steam Railways Tour Journey Notes 1 - Shrewsbury to Welshpool.

Shrewsbury Railway Station, Castle Foregate, Shrewsbury, SY1 2DQ

 
Inside the TIC

The expert and welcoming staff at Welshpool Tourist Information Centre offer independent assistance with the planning of routes and the booking of accommodation and of information on places or events to visit.

1 Vicarage Gardens, Church Street, Welshpool, Powys, SY21 7DD

 
 

Lunch

Originally the Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway ran through the town to exchange sidings here next to the goods yard. Today the narrow gauge line starts just to the west of the town at a new terminus at Ravens Square. Our steam train doesn’t leave here until 14.05 so plenty of time to walk through the town, drop off the luggage and have some lunch; it is just under a mile between the two stations.

The Cambrian Line was realigned and the current main line station was built in 1993 to facilitate the provision of a new road to by-pass Welshpool. The adjoining old station, a lavishly designed and detailed French Renaissance style building, was constructed in 1869/60 to house the headquarters of the Oswestry and Newtown Railway; however the building's role as headquarters was short-lived - just a couple of years. We can visit this building as it now houses an Edinburgh Woollen Mill’s shop.

From the Old Station, straight ahead for the town; if you are staying at the Royal Oak this evening, the hotel is at the crossroads on your right and you can drop off your luggage and have some lunch. Straight on at the crossroads/traffic lights for more lunch venues and shops. Continue in the same direction up out of the town to Raven Square station which is by the roundabout at the junction of the A458 and the A490.
Welshpool

Welshpool is a Mid Wales town which lies only 4 miles from the border with England. Its Welsh name 'Y Trallwng' means 'the marshy or sinking land' referring to the fact that the town is low-lying on the River Severn.

Welshpool, Powys, SY21 7DD

 
The Old Station Welshpool

The Old Station, Welshpool offers a unique opportunity for both the holiday maker and the local visitor to shop in one of the most elegant listed buildings in the area.

Severn Road, Welshpool, Powys, SY21 7AY

Food Standards Hygiene (Very Good)

 
 

Afternoon

Opened in 1903 to link the rural community of Llanfair Caereinion with Welshpool, this 2 foot 6 inch narrow gauge railway was built as a Light Railway to avoid some of the costs of railway construction. Passenger services ceased in 1931 but freight on the line continued until it was closed by British Railways in 1956. Restoration of the line began in 1959, the first passenger train ran from Llanfair to Castle Caereinion in 1963 and by 1981 the line was open again to Welshpool, some 8 miles.

The new terminus at Ravens Square is the former station building from Eardisley on the Hereford to Hay-on-Wye line.

All trains are steam hauled, either by one of the original locomotives built in 1902 (‘The Earl’ and ‘The Countess’) or one from abroad - Sierra Leone, Antigua in the West Indies and Germany. The carriages in regular use are from Hungary and Austria.

Our train will leave Welshpool at 14.05 (13.55 in August); this runs on 7 & 14 April and from 12 May to 29 September 2020. The journey takes about 45 minutes and we will have 30-40 minutes at Llanfair Caereinion before we return at 15.30. We get back to Welshpool at 16.15 (August 16.25) - if you want some photos of the train leaving Ravens Square, departure is at 16.40 (August 16.45).Turn right out of the station to walk back to the town.
Welshpool & Llanfair Railway

A narrow gauge train trip up the steepest gradients in Britain. Steam locos and coaches from around the world. Shops and picnic areas at both termini.

Rail Route: Llanfair Caereinion - Welshpool

The Station, Llanfair Caereinion, Welshpool, Powys, SY21 0SF

Visit Wales VAQASSelf-assessed Accessibility Information

 
 

Evening

Take a stroll along the banks of the Montgomery Canal or Powis Castle Parkland. Enjoy dinner at the Royal Oak or one of the many local restaurants and inns.
Montgomery & Welshpool Canal

The Montgomery Canal, or ‘The Monty’ as it’s fondly referred to, stretches from Newtown to Llanymynech in Wales, and continues over the border into England to Frankton Locks where it joins the Llangollen Canal.

Welshpool, Powys, UK

 
 

Overnight

Overnight stay in The Royal Oak Hotel, a historic coaching Inn or local bed and breakfast.
 
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