Welcome to WalesRails

A survey of railways in Wales and the tourist attractions they serve

Thumbnail maps of Europe and Wales

WalesRails: The Grand Tour

Region
North Wales
Mid Wales
South Wales

National Network

Route Sections

Gazetteer of Stations

About Wales

Using the rail network, a large part of the Wales railway network can be explored in a roughly figure-of-eight configuration.

In 1999, a partnership between network rail companies, most bus operators, public bodies and many tourist attractions introduced the Freedom of Wales Flexi-Pass which assists in making the Grand Rail Tour possible, and open up practically the whole of off-rail Wales to the public transport-using tourist.

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Preserved:
Standard gauge
Narrow gauge

WalesRails:
The Grand Tour

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While it is theoretically possible to take the 'Grand Tour' in a day, to do so would rely on some hair's breadth connections, particularly with the infrequently-served Heart of Wales, Conway Valley and Cambrian Coast Lines. Not only that, although the view from the carriage window would give more than just a flavour of the wide range of scenery and terrain which the land of Wales has to offer, to remain on the train would be to miss out on the vast variety of people, places and things to meet, see or do.
The purpose of this page is to outline the route, so that, using the WalesRails pages, travellers with the time to spare, and a suitable
rail pass in their pocket, can plan an itinerary for a memorable and enjoyable stay in the principality. Thoroughly spoiled for choice, the visitor will have to make a number of hard decisions: whether to plump for this castle, or that; whether to explore this stretch of coast or hike along that mountain range. Whether to ramble from one station to rejoin the train at another, or to embark on longer treks though unspoiled wilderness. Whether to delve into the country's history, art, craft, sport, theatre, or film - including visiting the locations where an increasing number of cinema and television  block-busters were - or are -  being shot.
The train - and bus connections - can help you fulfil all these interests or pursuits in an environmentally friendly way: The choice is yours!
In a journey totalling around 500 miles, almost a fifth will be spent travelling in England, so purists may argue that this is cannot be called a tour of Wales. But this mileage - between Pontrilas, 12 miles south of Hereford, and Chirk; and between Knighton and Craven Arms on the Heart of Wales Line - is all in Marcher Country, the troublesome borderland between England and Wales long fought over by a succession of Welsh princes and rebels of the Middle Ages. So, even if it does remain part of England, at least it wasn't for the want of trying!

The Itinerary

The route is shown in blue on the map (for the benefit of monochrome browser-users, place-names are given corresponding to the itinerary sections displayed alongside).
It is not suggested that the itinerary should be followed rigidly, and other lines, with their termini, are shown in black, so that diversions from the route outlined can be planned. For instance, rather than change trains at Shotton, the visitor may prefer to venture a little further outside Wales and spend some time in the walled medieval city of Chester.
To obtain information on the options available along the route, selecting any of the links will bring up the relevant WalesRails page. Below the map there are links to the gazetteer of stations or other route sections.
For convenience, the itinerary starts in Cardiff and goes in a counter-clockwise direction around the country; but the tour can be joined at any point along the way, or travelled in either direction.
Happy planning, and enjoy your trip!

Select one of these links to access the Gazetteer of Stations or route sections page.

For details of connecting bus services, including travel planner and timetables, visit the Traveline Cymru website.

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Copyright 1998/9/2000/1/2/3/4/5/6/7/8/9/10/11 /12/13/14 by Deryck Lewis. All rights reserved.
Page created April 28 1998; Redesigned March 29 1999; Updated May
18 2014
If you have any suggestions, comments, or glitches to report, please contact the author at WalesRails