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Snowdonia Coast Town Tour by Rail - Day 1

Delighted to have you on board this coastal tour of north-west Wales travelling from Shrewsbury on the scenic Cambrian Line railway and taking in the Cardigan Bay towns of Barmouth and Harlech together with Porthmadog and Pwllheli on the Lleyn peninsula. We will be staying in both Barmouth and Porthmadog for two nights, we take a trip on the Ffestiniog narrow gauge steam railway to Blaenau Ffestiniog and stop off at the picturesque seaside village of Aberdyfi. Suggestions for overnight accommodation are in or very close to the towns (and their railway stations) at which we will be staying 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 railway as we travel along the line.

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. The Ffestiniog Railway train in the itinerary for the Wednesday runs in 2018 from 8 April to 28 October.

How to join the tour (please see seating notes below):-
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/Pwllheli train leaves at 11.27.

Seating Notes - The Aberystwyth/Pwllheli train normally consists of four coaches; the train divides at Machynlleth with two coaches going to Aberystwyth and the other two to Pwllheli. If you are getting on the train at Birmingham International (or from here to Telford) board one of the front two coaches as these will be going on the Pwllheli line. Getting on at Shrewsbury - board one of the front two coaches of the train as it arrives; these will be at the rear of the train when it leaves.

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. A bit complicated - we hope that this is clear!!

Our first day includes a three and a half hour trip on the train - so take some lunch with you!

 

Morning

Monday - We start the Tour with a trip down the Cambrian Line to Machynlleth and then take the Cambrian Coast Line to Barmouth; we leave Shrewsbury at 11.27.

Journey notes are available - see Points of Interest Shrewsbury-Barmouth.

Welshpool is the first stop at 11.49; the town has a population of some 6,200 and serves as an agricultural service centre with an important livestock market held on Mondays. Powis Castle, situated to the west of the town, is perched on a rock and has one of the finest collections of paintings and furniture in Wales; the Clive Museum displays a beautiful collection of treasures from India. The Castle’s garden is overhung with clipped yew trees and shelters rare and tender plants in colourful herbaceous borders.

Newtown is our second stop at 12.03. The largest town in the county of Powys with a population of 12,800, Newtown's origin as a market town was in 1279, when King Edward I granted a charter to hold a market on Tuesdays. The Pryce Jones Royal Welsh Warehouse opposite the station sold flannel by post, the world's first mail order firm. We next call at the village of Caersws at 12.11.

We arrive at Machynlleth at 12.42. As previously mentioned, the train divides here so ensure that you are in one of the rear two coaches for the Pwllheli line to Barmouth.

A charter granted in 1291 by Edward I to the Lord of Powys gave him the right to hold a market at Machynlleth every Wednesday for ever and over 720 years later a street market it is still being held in this small town with a population of 2,200. Owain Glyndwr was a natural leader and an astute statesman and he united and led the Welsh against English rule; the town was the site of Glyndwr’s 1404 Parliament.

The Aberystwyth portion of the train leaves first and we follow at 12.51. We reach Dovey (Dyfi) Junction at 12.57 and take the Cambrian Coast Line; there are four request stops that we may call - the scheduled stops are at Aberdyfi (Aberdovey) at 13.10 (we will stop off here on our way back home on Friday), Tywyn 13.25 and Fairbourne 13.44 before we make a spectacular crossing of the Mawddach estuary to arrive Barmouth (Abermaw) at 13.56.

We leave the train at Barmouth. With a population of 2,000, the town originally grew around the shipbuilding industry before becoming a small seaside resort. Its lovely sandy beaches and stunning Snowdonia backdrop have continued to make is a popular holiday destination since the Victorian era.

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

Castle Foregate, Shrewsbury, SY1 2DQ

 

Snowdonia Town Tour Journey Notes 1 - Shrewsbury to Barmouth.

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

 
 

Afternoon

A location tour of Barmouth. The station is home to Barmouth's tourist information centre; the building also houses a small museum devoted to the history of the town. For the promenade, turn right out of the station and right over the railway; straight on for the sea, right for Marine Parade for B&Bs, Guest Houses and the Min y Mor Hotel.

For places to eat and the shops, turn right from the station then left into Beach Road; at the end of this road, shops and cafes left in King Edward Street or High Street right for the main part of the town and Richmond House. Continue on this road for the harbour and Barmouth Bridge - follow the A496 Dolgellau road past the Last Inn; access to the Barmouth Bridge will be on your right.

We spend the rest of the day here in Barmouth so we can drop off the luggage and explore the town.

For some exercise, Barmouth has an extensive promenade to the north (right when you reach the sea) or south to the harbour. The maritime heritage of the town includes several buildings which are all situated around the harbour area. The refurbished Sailors Institute houses many artefacts, pictures and paintings and Ty Gwyn, which dates back to 1460, has a Shipwreck Museum. Ty Crwn (the Round House) was built as a lock-up and shows what life was like as a prisoner in 1830 and the RNLI Lifeboat Museum displays information, photographs, crew kit and equipment and subject to operational requirements and availability of staff, you can go inside and look around the station. All are normally open during daylight hours with free admission.

For a longer walk - you can go over Barmouth Bridge across the Mawddach estuary; there is a footpath alongside the railway track. At the far end of the bridge is the little Morfa Mawddach station; you can then continue your walk from here along the Mawddach Trail which follows the route of an old railway line to Dolgellau.

Abermaw / Barmouth in Southern Snowdonia is a great location for Mountain, Sand and Sea. Extensive sandy beach with attractions, water sports and boat trips. Situated on the Coast Path with walking and cycling available for all abilities.

Southern Snowdonia, LL42 1LS

 
 

Evening

Dinner at the Min y Mor Hotel on the Promenade or at one of the cafes and restaurants that Barmouth has to offer.
 

Overnight

Suggestions for places to stay tonight include the Min y Mor Hotel on the Promenade which has a licensed restaurant, a choice of Guest Houses on Marine Parade (including the Endeavour, Ocean Drive, Sandpiper and the Môr Wyn) and Richmond House on High Street.
 
 

Other Itineraries

> Explore Mid Wales Days Out

> Heritage Railways

> Scenic Railway Day Trips

> Short Breaks by Train

> Short Breaks in Mid Wales

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