Day 1: Lunch. Cable Tramway. The Great Orme Country Park. Meet your guide and fellow travelers over a light lunch at 1:00 p.m. at the hotel before taking a walk along the promenade to board Britain’s only remaining cable operated street tramway. This will take us up 680 feet to the Great Orme Country Park.
The cliffs are host to colonies of seabirds such as Guillemots, Kittiwakes and Razorbills as well as Gulls and also to Ravens and Little Owls. The Great Orme is also home to over 100 resident and migrant birds including Peregrine Falcons. Here we can visit the excellent interpretation center, walk on one of the numerous footpaths, or just enjoy the views over the town, the sea and the mountains of Snowdonia in the distance. Lunch, dinner and overnight at Can y Bae.
Day 2: Walled Town and Medieval Castle, Pub Meal Snowdonia Choir rehearsal. Conwy castle and town were constructed by the English monarch Edward I between 1283 and 1289, as one of the key fortresses in his "iron ring" of castles to contain the Welsh. It’s a place where we can step back in time. After some free time to explore the interesting shops, the quaint cottages and have lunch your guide will take you on a tour of the castle.
We then return to Can y Bae to relax and refresh before departing late afternoon on a scenic drive through the mountains of Snowdonia to the slate mining town of Bethesda, stopping for a traditional pub dinner on the way. We will visit the Penrhyn Male Voice Choir at their rehearsal rooms in the village. This choir was formed in the last decade of the 19th century and is one of the best known choirs in Wales. Breakfast and overnight at Can y Bae.
Day 3: Train journey to the Roof of Wales, with picnic lunch. At 3560 feet, Snowdon is the highest peak in Britain south of the Scottish Highlands, and the easiest way to get to the top is on the famous Snowdon Mountain Railway. This narrow-gauge line chuff its way for over four and a half miles to the summit, where you will enjoy the most breathtaking views in Britain, extending as far as Ireland’ Wicklow Hills whilst enjoying a nicely prepared picnic lunch. After the descent, our coach will take us back to Llandudno, arriving late afternoon when there will be some free time for last minute shopping. Breakfast and overnight at Can y Bae.
Day 4: Slate Caverns, Portmeirion, Aberaeron. Departing Llandudno, we journey through the Lledr valley to the mountain town of Blaenau Ffestiniog to visit the Llechwedd Slate Caverns. Traveling into the mine on specially designed trains, we experience the working conditions of Victorian miners and discover how millions of tons of rock were moved to produce roofing slates using only primitive tools, gunpowder and human muscle.
Then onwards to Portmeirion the unique "fantasy village" built between 1925 and 1975 by the late architect Clough Williams-Ellis, primarily to show how "the development" of a naturally beautiful site need not lead to its defilement. Portmeirion is situated on the shore of a very beautiful estuary and can be a place to totally relax or to enjoy the walks in surrounding woodland and gardens. After lunch, we travel south along the west coast to the seaside town of Aberaeron, where we stay for the next three nights. Dinner and overnight Aberaeron.
Day 5: Aberaeron, Llanerchaeron. Aberaeron's most striking feature is its architecture. One house in every four is listed either as being of special architectural or historical interest. This small town was constructed in the 19th century by a "mad" clergyman, the Reverend Alban Jones - Gwynne and his wife Susannah. They had inherited a vast fortune which they spent building the town and harbor from which grew a thriving trading port and a shipbuilding center.
Today it is a quiet seaside resort known for its picturesque sea-front setting, exquisite ice cream and the most amazing "fish and chips". Morning is at leisure when you will be invited to join me on a walk around town and if you feel up to it, walk part of the coastal path. In the afternoon we will travel up the beautiful Aeron valley to Llanerchaeron (NT). This is an 18th century Welsh gentry’s estate designed and built by John Nash with house, walled gardens and home farm. Breakfast, dinner and overnight Aberaeron.
Day 6: Ancient times. St. David’s cathedral is considered the holiest site in Wales due to its relics of St. David. The cathedral was a major pilgrimage destination throughout the Middle Ages and remains a thriving church today. Here is where Dewi Sant (St. David) the patron saint of Wales, established the first monastic community in the 6th century and has been a site of pilgrimage and worship ever since. No bigger than a village, with only one square and a few side roads, the cathedral's presence earns it the right to be called a city. We will take a private tour with a cathedral guide.
In contrast to the massive cathedral, on our way back we'll turn off the road to a secluded valley to discover the tiny sixth century Church of St Brynach. An avenue of 700 year old yew trees leads us through the church yard, and near the church entrance is a stunning thirteen-foot high 11th century Celtic cross. Not to be missed, a visit to nearby Pentre Ifan, a Bronze-Age megalithic site is a must. Dating from at least 4000 B.C., it's probably Wales' finest example of a hilltop megalith. Breakfast, dinner and overnight Aberaeron.
Day 7: Botanical Garden, Tywi Valley, the Brecon Beacons. We start the day with a memorable visit to the 568 acre National Botanic Garden, which is the most visited Garden in Wales, and one of the most fascinating gardens in the UK. It occupies a truly beautiful location on the edge of the Tywi Valley, surrounded by gentle rolling hills, and boasts the largest single span Glasshouse in the world. Our journey continues through the Brecon Beacons National Park arriving at the historic town of Brecon in the late afternoon. Dinner and overnight Brecon.
Day 8: Morning at leisure, relaxing afternoon river cruise. This is a town where you'll enjoy losing yourself not only in the narrow streets and passageways lined with Georgian and Jacobean shop fronts, but in the sense of timelessness about the place. Ever since the Iron Age, this magical spot at the confluence of the Usk and Honddu rivers and sheltered by the mountains has been prized and protected. Now the commercial center of the southern part of Powys, Brecon remains first and foremost a traditional Welsh market town. After lunch we travel on the Monmouth-Brecon canal, an historical waterway and a fantastic feat of engineering when construction work began in 1796. In the evening we will enjoy a pub meal at one of the many local eateries. Breakfast and overnight Brecon.
Day 9: Town of Books and Llanthony Priory. Our day begins with a drive over the Black Mountains to Hay on Wye, the "Town of Books", the small town is known across the globe for its annual Literary Festival and it’s 40 plus bookshops. We then journey along the very scenic border road to Llanthony Priory famous today for its wild and beautiful setting, far up the Vale of Ewyas in the Black Mountains. It was the priory's remoteness in the Welsh hills which was its undoing, making it vulnerable to attack. The priory was one of the earliest houses of Augustinian canons to be founded in Britain, and is one of only a handful in Wales. Breakfast, dinner and overnight Brecon.
Day 10: “The Big Pit” Aberavon, Museum of Welsh Life. Big Pit is a real coal mine and one of Britain's leading mining museums. We’ll visit the pithead bath exhibition, the medical center, and other exhibitions that focus on children in the mines, health, home life and the mining communities and see how the life and work of the miner has changed between 1850 and the present day. We end the visit by taking a captivating journey around a section of the original underground workings with a retired miner as our guide, then onwards towards Cardiff.
One of the city’s main attractions is "St. Fagan's Museum of Welsh Life" which is part of the National Museum of Wales. Here we will see a collection of interesting buildings that have been moved stone by stone from all around Wales and reconstructed in this 100 acre parkland, with complete period content. The buildings include chapels, churches, houses and shops. There is also a working pottery, tannery, bake house, a Bronze Age village and farm with "rare breed" animals. Breakfast and overnight at Cardiff.
Day 11: Cardiff. Cardiff is Wales' largest city with a population of around 350.000 and, during Victorian times, it was the biggest coal-exporting town in the world. Since granted Capital City status in 1955, the old coal town has been thoroughly transformed with a series of massive developments, not least the shiny National Assembly Building, the Millennium Center for the arts and the huge city center sports stadium - not to mention the rejuvenated waterfront with its giant freshwater marina, shops, restaurants, museums and other attractions.
Today will be largely unplanned as some will want do some last minute shopping, whilst others might like to see some of the sights. Everyone will have a ticket to board the city’s "hop-on hop-off" open top sightseeing bus. Our day and indeed our tour will end with a conducted tour of Cardiff Castle followed by a farewell dinner for us all at one of the city’ many eateries. Breakfast, dinner and overnight at Cardiff.
Day 12: Tour ends after breakfast.
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