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The Welsh Dragon

Saturday 18 May 2019



Cardiff, capital city of Wales and recently named sixth best shopping destination in the UK, offers a range of unique attractions and varied shopping, with innovative architecture sitting alongside historic buildings.

When you’ve had your fill of retail therapy, there are plenty of cafés, restaurants and bars to stop and relax in. The old Cardiff docklands have been redeveloped in the last decade to create Cardiff Bay, home to a large freshwater lake for sailing and water sports; the stylish five star St David’s Hotel and Spa, Mermaid Quay – a restaurant hotspot, and the home for Welsh National Opera, the Wales Millennium Centre.

You may wish to visit National Museum Cardiff, situated in the heart of Cardiff’s elegant civic centre and housing world class art and natural history, including Wales’s national art, natural history and geology collections, as well as major touring and temporary exhibitions. Entry is free!

Alternatively, you might pay a visit to Cardiff Castle, one of Wales’ leading heritage attractions and a site of international significance. Located within beautiful parklands at the heart of the capital and once a Roman fort, Norman stronghold and Victorian Gothic masterpiece, Cardiff Castle’s walls and fairy-tale towers conceal 2,000 years of history.

Our Great Days Out special train runs directly from Hertfordshire stations, Stevenage, Welwyn Garden City and Potters Bar, as well as from Finsbury Park and Ealing Broadway, both of which offer useful tube connections. We take an interesting route around north and west London before joining the Great Western Main Line at Acton. From here it’s straight down through Swindon, skirting Bristol before heading through the Severn Tunnel and entering South Wales.

You have a break of over four hours in the Welsh capital (12.30 to 17.08 Confirmed), before taking a scenic route home via Gloucester and Kemble.

You can also pre-book one of the following options:




A peaceful oasis ten miles to the west of the Welsh capital, Dyffryn Gardens covers more than 55 acres. The Edwardian gardens are undergoing an ambitious garden revival project to restore them to their original splendour. With year-round seasonal highlights the gardens feature the best woody collection in the National Trust.

Designed by eminent landscape architect Thomas Mawson in 1906, the gardens are the early 20th-century vision of coal magnate John Cory and his son Reginald. Within the gardens, Dyffryn House, a grand Victorian mansion, overlooks the key aspects of the garden.

Coaches will meet the train at Cardiff for the short transfer to Dyffryn, where you will have some four hours at leisure.  Both the house and the garden will be yours to explore, along with the gift shop and a fascinating secondhand book shop. The is a cafeteria so you can relax and take refreshment.

This option is pre-bookable only. A discount is available to National Trust Members – but you must remember to bring your membership card with you.


When we last visited the Pontypool & Blaenavon Railway, many years ago, it was very much in its infancy – one short length of track and very little in the way of facilities. Progress since those early days has been considerable and not only does the line now operate steam and diesel trains for two miles between Whistle Inn and the town of Blaenavon but it also boasts a branch line (highly unusual for a steam railway) to Big Pit.

The railway is the highest preserved standard-gauge line in the United Kingdom, and also unique in having the only standard-gauge rail-over-rail bridge within preservation.

The line from Brynmawr to Blaenavon was built under an Act of 1866 by the Brynmawr and Blaenavon Railway and immediately leased to the London and North Western Railway to transport coal to the Midlands via the Heads of the Valleys line. The line was completed in 1869. Nine years later it was extended to meet the Great Western Railway at Abersychan & Talywain. Here the trains carried on down the valley through Pontypool Crane Street Station to the coast.

Our Welsh Dragon tour will now call additionally at Newport, just a few miles short of Cardiff, where coaches will be waiting for the fifteen mile journey up the valleys to  Furnace Siding station. From here the railway operates in three directions – to Whistle Inn, Big Pit and Blaenavon – so there is plenty to occupy our break here of around two and a half hours. Refreshments are available too.

A supplement of £17 includes coach transfer from and back to Newport as well as a rover ticket facility during the time we are at the Pontypool & Blaenavon Railway.

Timings are confirmed as shown below.

Stevenage07.31 CONFIRMED22.10 CONFIRMED
Welwyn Garden City07.45 CONFIRMED21.58 CONFIRMED
Potters Bar (for M25)07.57 CONFIRMED21.46 CONFIRMED
Finsbury Park08.16 CONFIRMED21.28 CONFIRMED
Ealing Broadway09.18 CONFIRMED20.36 CONFIRMED

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