Old Mar 16th, 2015, 03:45 PM
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My husband and I are planning a 3 week trip to Wales. This will happen next Spring so we have some time to plan. Will probably fly into Manchester and rent a car. We have been to Britain before: 2 trips to Scotland and one to York/Yorkshire.

We would like to focus on the country's natural beauty and castles.We would also like to visit Warwick Castle and Bleinheim Palace. Should we travel seeing the English highlights first (the two palaces) or go through Wales first and visit them last. Any lovely drives/locales that should not be missed? What routes are particularly gorgeous and have incredible visual impact? What recommendations do seasoned British travelers have that would help us have a great trip? Are there English stately homes that are near the palaces that can't be missed?

We are in the initial stages so are very open to idea and suggestions.

Thanks for all of your expert advice in advance.
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Old Mar 16th, 2015, 04:55 PM
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I am far from an expert, but I have been to Wales several times.

Each time I was in North Wales, I based myself in Conwy. There is a marvelous castle there. Much of the town walls are in tact and make a lovely stroll. There is a merchant's house in town--Tudor era, I believe. It is an interesting look at life in the times. There are lots of places to eat in the evening so that you can have a drink or two with dinner and not have to drive.

Within a day's trip are Beaumaris Castle with its beautiful moat and Caernarvon Castle. Just over the bridge is the town with the longest place name in the world. Llandudno is a seaside town with a promenade and the Great Orme, a headland with great views. Take a ride on the narrow guage rail way to Blenau Festiniog and visit a disused slate mine. Continue on to Harlech, a castle overlooking the sea. Bodnant Gardens are a great day out. Penrhyn Castle is not medieval but was built by a wealthy business man in the nineteenth century. It looks medieval and has a good collection of all sorts of things. I went for the toy and doll collections.

In south Wales I stayed once in Cardiff and once in Chepstow, right on the border. Chepstow Castle, Caerphilly, Raglan, Goodrich, Monmouth castles are all worth a visit. I loved St. Fagans just outside of Cardiff. It is an open air museum with buildings brought from all around Wales and of many eras. Farmhouses and animals, crafts, docents dressed of various eras. Cardiff Castle and Castle Coche are homes of nineteenth century industrialists. Tintern Abbey is in the area. There are Roman ruins at Newport.

Have fun planning and even more fun on your trip!
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Old Mar 16th, 2015, 05:08 PM
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Thanks for your response. Your ideas sound fun! I love the castles and other suggestions. I look forward to our trip and more itinerary options as we delve into our plans!
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Old Mar 16th, 2015, 05:28 PM
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Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts are some bits and pieces of scenes in Wales, many of which have been mentioned by Irishface in post above. Mypis ere taken in the 1980's and in the 2000's...inviting Chester (England) plays a role, too

Please see below.
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Old Mar 16th, 2015, 05:48 PM
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I'd fly into MAN and out of LHR (or vice versa)

It really doesn't matter which order. From MAN you can stop in Chester, then into north Wales, Conwy would be aterrific base. then down to the pembrokeshire coast (St David's, etc). Then South Wales making sure to visit Chepstow and Tintern Abbey. Then the Cotswolds/Blenheim/Warwick. The drop the car at LHR and fly home (or the entire trip could be done in reverse)

This would be a great 3 week itinerary.
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Old Mar 16th, 2015, 05:50 PM
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We spent two weeks in Wales last year with Mr. Pickle's a capella choir. Here's a link to my trip report:

I agree with janisj - fly into MAN and home from LHR, or vice versa.

Lee Ann
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Old Mar 16th, 2015, 06:04 PM
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CushIf you need a change of pace ffor some slow travel, Wales is for you)
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Old Mar 17th, 2015, 01:37 PM
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Three weeks will give you lots of time to really explore and see a lot of Wales. Fly into Manchester and out from Heathrow if possible, as this will save doubling back on yourself. Leave Warwick and Blenheim for the end of the trip and do on the way back to Heathrow.

You don’t say where you are flying from and whether you are likely to be jet lagged and what time you are likey to arrive in UK...

I would suggest an overnight stay at Chester which is only a short drive from Manchester. It is a lovely small city - possibly even nicer than York - with a complete circuit of walls, good cathedral and superb city centre with timber frame buildings. The Rows are most unusual as they are ‘double decker’ shops with a walkway giving access to shops on the first floor.

Depending what time you arrive there may be time to explore that day. Failing that you may want to allow 2 nights here to explore the city and go for a boat ride on the River Dee.

Then head to Conwy/LLandudno for your next base. They are very close together and either would work well. Suggestions for visits on the way include St Winefrid’s Well at Holywell
Ewloe Castle
Rhuddlan Castle
And Bodnant Gardens

is a lovely walled town with a splendid Castle
and an Elizabethan Town House

Llandudno is a Victorian Seaside town. Go for a ride up the Great Orme on the Tramway.
Allow at least a day to explore Conwy and Llandudno

Spend a day exploring the Conwy Valley up to Betwys y Coed and then head for Capel Curig and take the A4086 which drops you down the Pass of Llanberis. Have a look at Dolbadarn Castle
and the National Welsh Slate Museum in Llanberis
before heading back to Conwy/Llanberis.

Spend a day going across to Anglesey for Beaumaris Castle
and Penmon Priory.
On the way back visit the mock Norman Penrhyn Castle.
No money was spared on the interior which really is lavish.

Plan for your next stop in Criccieth. Plan to visit Caernarfon on the way. This is another walled town with another splendid Castle.
Criccieth is a lovely small seaside town with a ruined castle.

Spend a day exploring the Llyn Peninsula. Go out via the south coast with Pwllhelli, Llanbedrog and Abersoch and then head for Aberdaron. Consider visiting Plas yn Rhiw, a delightful C17th manor house.

Drive to the end of the roads at Aberdaron to the disused coastguard lookout for views across to Bardsey island. There is some nice walking along the cliffs here. Come back along the north coast, stopping to visit Porth Oer, Whistling Sands Beach.
If it is low tide, park at Morfa Nefyn and walk across the beach to Porthdinllaen and Ty Coch Inn and round the headland.
Beyond Nefyn, look for the tiny pilgrim church of Pistyll, signed off the B4417.
On the way back to Criccieth, do a detour to Llangybi and St Cybi’s Well.

There are two steam railways from Porthmadoc. The Ffestiniog Railway runs from Porthmadog up the Vale of Ffestiniog to Blaenau Ffestiniog. It was built to carry slate from the hills to the harbour at Porthmadog. There are steep gradients on the line and you may be lucky and pulled by one of the Ffestinog’s unique double Fairlie locos.
The other is the Welsh highland Railway which runs from Porthmadog along the flanks of Snowdon to Caernarfon. This has been rebuilt on the trackbed of a line which closed in the 1930s and is loco hauled by Bayer Garrett locos.
Both are excellent rides and I would be hard pushed to decidde which I like the best. If time allows, they are both worth doing. The Ffestiniog can be done in half a day. To do the complete round trip on the Welsh Highland takes all day.

Also plan a visit to Portmeirion, the Italianate village designed by the very quirky architect Sir Clough Williams-Ellis.
This is a photographers delight and well worth a visit, especially in spring when teh rhodedendrons and azaleas will be in flower. Just a short drive away in Llanfrothen is Plas Brodanw Gardens, the home of Sir Clough Williams-Ellis. He used the same architectural tricks to design his garden but using trees and shrubs to frame the vistas.

From Criccieth, head south to Aberystwth or your next base. Do Harlech Castle
and Castell y Bere
on the way.

Allow a full day to do the Vale of Rheidol Steam Railway
catching the first train up the valley and then doing the waterfalls walk at Devil’s Bridge
and then catch the last train back to Aberystwth.

After Aberystwyth continue south along the coast with a stop at the C18th estate of Llanerchaeron and head for your next base in the St David’s/Solva area.

St David’s is a tiny cathedral city at the tip of the peninsula with a ruined Bishop’s palace.

Plan on a boat trip to Ramsey
And spend time exploring the tip of the peninsula - Whitesands Bay, St David’s head. If you like walking therre is the coastal footpath which in spring is covered with wild flowers. Visit Abereiddy and Abergain.... Drive down to Dale.

After St David’s, consider a break in the Gower Peninsula to potter and explore before heading for Cardiff.

Visit Cardiff Castle
and the fairytale Castell Coch on the outskirts of Cardiff.
There is also Caerphilly with its ruined castle.

The National Museum of Wales in the centre of Cardiff is also worth a visit.
A bit further away is St Fagan’s. Although described as a Natural History Museum., this is really a folk museum with reconstructed houses from across Wales. It is a marvellous insight into how people used to live and work. With over 40 buildings, allow plenty of time for a visit - it is easy to spend all day there.

If time allows, add in an extra day to visit Tredegar House, a C17th country house in Newport
and then up through Abergavenny (the food town of Wales) to Tretower Court and Castle
before returning to Cardiff.

This basically finishes Wales and you now need to head to Warwick. Have a stop at Chepstow for the Castle
and then take A466, a slow and very scenic drive up the Wye Valley stopping at Tintern Abbey
Then head for Ross on Wye to pick up the motorway and head for Warwick.

After Warwick, head for Blenheim Palace and then end up at Heathrow....

I'll leave you to decide how many days to allocate for each stop. This is just scratching the surface of things to do and see.
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Old Mar 17th, 2015, 05:52 PM
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WOW! I love all of your ideas! Chester seems appealing. I wondered if it was too touristy but it sounds interesting. York was such a beautiful town. I would love to experience another city with similar charm.

We have an 2002 AAA road atlas from our last trip to Scotland. Do you think we need to invest in a new one? Do roads change that much to warrant buying a newer edition? We also thought of adding Bath to the itinerary as it sounds lovely. I think that we could fit it in during our visit.

When last in England and Scotland we bought passes that allowed us to see various sites for free. Does Wales have a similar program?

I love all of the input. It makes our trip even more exciting as we plan it. Please keep it coming!

We are from Minneapolis, Minnesota to best give you an idea as to jet lag, travel times, etc.


Again, thanks to all!

lovely jubbly!
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Old Mar 17th, 2015, 06:04 PM
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>>We have an 2002 AAA road atlas from our last trip to Scotland. Do you think we need to invest in a new one?
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Old Mar 18th, 2015, 08:08 AM
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Rather than buy an Explorer Pass for CADW which is only valid for 3 or 7 days, it would make more sense to buy an annual membership pass.
Prices here:

It is only £19 more for two people and as well as giving free memebership to all CADW sites, you also get 10% off purchases in CADW shops. It will also give you half price admission to any English Heritage (and also Historic Scotland) properties you visit while you are in the UK.

There is general information about Visitor passes for England and Scotland here:

As far as the Road Atlas goes, there won't be many changes to ordinary roads, but it will mark any new motorways that have opened since 2002. Janisj's to use your old one for planning and to buy a new one when you get here makes sense.

You could fit in Bath after Cardiff by going over the Severn Bridge at Chepstow. Then head for Warwick.
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