Delight in The Golden Age of Travel on a steam journey, hauled by 61306 Mayflower, discovering some of Britain’s stunningly beautiful rail journeys
Shrewsbury – 1 night
Portmeirion – 3 nights
If you love rail journeys then this is a tour for you. Whilst we have yet to figure out a way of travelling back in time, we believe we have found the ideal experience to indulge in a bygone era. On board the Steam-Hauled 61306 Mayflower, travelling in Pullman-style carriages, we can offer the discerning traveller an opportunity to experience an enticing taste of the romance and craft of the Golden Age of Travel. Travel from London via Gloucester to the west and then through the Heart of Wales. Enjoy two full days exploring Snowdonia and North Wales. Discover this stunning region with the opportunity to join the most beautiful great little railways of North Wales whilst delighting in the internationally famous Italianate Village of Portmeirion, our base for three nights. Created by Sir Clough Williams-Ellis, who drew inspiration from the fishing village of Portofino. Comprising approximately 50 buildings and surrounded by 70 acres of sub-tropical woodland, it has served as the location for numerous films and television shows, but perhaps most famously with the 1960s television show ‘The Prisoner’ - probably one of the most influential pieces of television of the era.
Steam Hauled Journey
Culture & Landscapes
New Domestic Tour
Assigned seats in Pullman Style Carriages
Group Size: 2 – 42
Day 1 Depart from London Paddington in the morning for an express run along the Great Western Main Line to the Cathedral City of Gloucester where we will have a lunchtime break. Leaving Gloucester, travel one of the most beautiful and lesser known routes in Southern Britain, hugging the ever widening Severn Estuary past picture postcard views of both the Bristol Channel and historic towns, cross the River Wye in full view of its Castle. Sit back and enjoy the relaxed pace of steam-hauled travel as we head into Wales passing through the capital city of Cardiff and on towards the far West of the country.
At Pontarddulais we begin our journey over one of the most remote and scenic railways in Britain, the Central Wales line (The Heart of Wales). This single track line passes through the Carmarthenshire Hills, coasts the edge of the Brecon Beacons and then journeys through the Black Mountains. The locomotives climb the challenging gradients, wind their way around the hills and cross viaducts along the route, surrounded by classic moor and mountain countryside, dotted with streams and jagged peaks. Arriving into the market town of Shrewsbury by the evening, there is time to enjoy the medieval surrounds; the Abbey and Castle before settling into the Prince Rupert Hotel for the night. (B, D)
Day 2 Depart Shrewsbury, diesel hauled, for one of the most beautiful journeys in Britain. Travel through the mountains of mid-Wales before descending the West side of the country to Machynlleth, shortly before we reach the coastline of the Irish Sea. For the rest of our journey we are never more than a short distance from the sea as we climb up and down cliffs, providing a dramatic backdrop whilst enjoying lunch. Cross the world famous two-mile-long Barmouth Bridge, past the ancient capital of Wales, Harlech, and turn sharply west towards the LLeyn peninsular passing Porthmadog, before arriving in Pwlhelli. Transfer to Portmeirion Village for a three night stay. (B, L, D)
Days 3 - 4 Two full-days exploring Snowdonia. There is a choice of 3 optional excursions daily during your stay, alternatively, you may wish to explore independently. The optional excursions are very popular and have limited availability so we would recommend pre-booking.
Snowdonia has so many places to visit that there really is something for everyone! For lovers of steam railways there are of course several of the famous Little Trains of Wales in the area including the Ffestiniog railway, the Tallynn Railway, Snowdon Mountain Railway and the relatively recent addition of the 4-mile long Welsh Highland Railway that cuts through Snowdonia from Porthmadog to Caernarfon. Away from railways, you can visit to Bodnant Gardens and Conwy, Puffin Island and Beaumaris, and the wonderful World Heritage site of Caernarfon Castle. See below for excursion programme. (B, D)
Optional excursions - Day 3:
Puffin Island & Beaumaris - A pleasure cruise to Puffin Island with a stop at the medieval town of Beaumaris on the Menai Strait. Providing panoramic views of the Snowdonia Mountain Range, Penmon Lighthouse and Puffin Island. Discover 12 species of sea birds - guillemots, cormorants, kittiwakes and of course the puffin. The island is home to a colony of grey seals which can be seen swimming in the sea or basking in the sunshine and the island’s waters are home to bottlenose dolphins and harbour porpoise which occasionally surface near the boat (Price £40).
A visit to Caernarfon Castle – a World Heritage Site - Possibly the most famous of Wales's castles and most prized architectural treasures, Caernarfon’s sheer scale and commanding presence easily sets it apart. Commanding the mouth of the River Seiont, it dominates the small town of Caernarfon, now a web of 17th and 18th-century streets enclosed by medieval stone walls (Price £40).
A Trip on the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways - The Ffestiniog Railway is the world’s oldest narrow gauge railway with almost 200 years of history, taking you on a 13½-mile journey from the slate-quarrying town of Blaenau Ffestiniog to the harbour in Porthmadog. The Railway still operates three of its original locomotives which are over 150 years old, and original carriages, offering an unrivalled journey back into the golden age of rail travel. The historic trains pass through tranquil pastures and magnificent forests, past lakes and waterfalls, round tight bends (even a complete spiral) clinging to the side of the mountain or tunneling through it. We will have a little over an hour at Porthmadog, where there are plenty of cafés and bars in the town which is just a 5-minute walk from the station. We will then join the Welsh Highland Railway to Caernarfon. The Welsh Highland Railway is the UK’s longest heritage railway and runs for 25 miles from Porthmadog through the stunning Aberglaslyn Pass, past the picture postcard village of Beddgelert and the foot of Snowdon, and on to Caernarfon. Passengers ride in some of the most comfortable carriages on any heritage railway in the UK. Light refreshments are available on both trains (Price £60 (limited availability)).
Optional excursions - Day 4:
A Trip on The Snowdon Railway - Drive to Llanberis to join a journey to the rooftop of Wales. Snowdon, at 1085m, dominates the landscape of Snowdonia National Park in North Wales. You can claim this mountain peak, the highest in Wales, as a lifetime’s achievement.This majestic journey, on a Victorian railway aboard new period style carriages, has been described as one of the most unique and wonderful railway journeys in the world. The scenic ride will take approximately 1 hour to reach the top, traversing the viaduct over Afon Hwch, past the spectacular waterfalls and climbing up the steep 1 in 5.5 gradient near the summit. Once there you can visit the café which sells a selection of hot and cold drinks and handheld snacks, from warming Welsh ‘oggies’ to fresh cream cakes, arriving back at our hotel in the early afternoon (Price £65 (limited availability)).
A visit to Bodnant Garden and Conwy - Bodnant, a world-famous garden home to National Collections and Champion Trees. With intimate corners, sweeping lawns, grand terraces and verdant woodland. This haven of rarity and beauty with a stunning backdrop of the Carneddau Mountains of Snowdonia is a delight for the senses. You will be able to purchase a light lunch or refreshments at The Pavilion Tea Room before we travel to Conwy. With a foreboding castle and picturesque quay, set against a stunning mountainous backdrop, the medieval walled town of Conwy makes a delightful afternoon sightseeing venue. Visit Britain’s smallest house - situated on the quayside. The town’s turbulent history over the last six centuries has left some delights to explore (Price £40 - National Trust Members will receive a reduction of £10 if they bring their membership cards).
A visit to Plas Newydd and Penrhyn Castle - Travel to Plas Newydd, the country seat of the Marquess of Anglesey. Set on the shores of the Menai Strait amidst breathtakingly beautiful scenery, this elegant house was redesigned by James Wyatt in the 18th century. The 1930s restyled interior is famous for its Rex Whistler association and contains his exquisite romantic mural and the largest exhibition of his works. The coffee shop or Old Dairy tea room make ideal lunch options. Continue to Penhryn Castle. This enormous 19th-century neo-Norman castle sits between Snowdonia and the Menai Strait. It's crammed with fascinating items such as a one-ton slate bed made for Queen Victoria, elaborate carvings, plasterwork and mock-Norman furniture, as well as an outstanding collection of paintings. There is also a Railway Museum here which is dedicated to industrial locomotives, some of which were once used in the Penrhyn quarry (Price £50 - National Trust Members will receive a reduction of £20 if they bring their membership cards).
Day 5 Travel to Holyhead for the steam-hauled journey along the North Wales Coast Line which again runs eastwards along the shore line with views to Snowdonia to the South before passing through Flint. For the second half of the day, enjoy a unique journey by steam as we head across the stunning Welsh Marches with spectacular views of the Black Mountains including the famous Sugar Loaf. Pass Ludlow and Hereford in South Wales before crossing into England and continue along the Great Western Main Line to Reading and London Paddington, arriving in the early evening. (B, L, D)
The train will operate a full complement with standard, premium and Pullman carriages.
Pullman Carriages have a maximum capacity of 42 travellers.
Meals served on the train comprise a 3-course lunch and a 4-course dinner, including wine, water tea & coffee. The meal plan may be altered subject to final timetable confirmations.
Seats in Pullman-Style Carriages on a table for 4 (window and next) Table for 2 available at a supplement.
Optional excursions are pre-bookable and have limited availability, early booking recommended.
Porterage is included, your luggage will be collected at the London railway station and transferred to your hotel, ready for your arrival, this will be repeated from hotel to hotel on the tour.
Situated in the very heart of medieval Shrewsbury, the historic Grade II listed building is firmly established as one of the town’s finest hotels. The former home of Prince Rupert, grandson of King James I, it combines old-world charm with modern comforts and hosts an array of historic period features and is surrounded by cobblestone streets and Tudor buildings. Featuring three fabulous restaurants, Camellias Tearooms, garden courtyard and a fully equipped leisure suite. The 70 bedrooms are tastefully furnished with TV, hairdryer, tea/coffee making facilities and Free WiFi.
The Grade II listed Hotel Portmeirion is an early Victorian villa converted to a hotel by Clough Williams-Ellis in 1925 and restored in 1988. Castell Deudraeth is a Victorian castellated folly converted into a contemporary hotel in 2001. Accommodation will be in the Villa or in the surrounding properties that form Portmeirion Village. There are 32 individually designed rooms and suites in the surrounding Portmeirion Village, all with great views and charming settings.
Built for the London & North Eastern Railway, 61306 Mayflower is one of two surviving B1 Class locomotives. The B1's were designed as mixed traffic locomotives capable of hauling express passenger trains as well as freight traffic. As powerful, go anywhere engines, the B1's worked across most of the UK rail network from East Anglia to Scotland. Mayflower was built in 1948 by the North British Locomotive Company in Glasgow , she was the last B1 in service, her final trip was hauling the 'Yorkshire Pullman' from Leeds in September 1967. Resplendent in the early British Railways apple green livery as she was originally given when delivered in 1948 she returned to full mainline operation in early 2019. Mayflower has two cylinders, 6 driving wheels, a firebox grate area of 30 square feet and can operate at 75mph.
Pullman carriages provides a premium railway dining experience. Passengers are seated in 1950s or 1960s carriages with wood panelling, comfortable seats, table lamps and curtains at the windows. They provide our most comfortable seats with the most leg room, and combined with the highest level of service, the atmosphere evokes memories of a bygone era.
The train will operate a full complement with standard, premium and Pullman carriages. Pullman Carriages have a maximum capacity of 42 travellers.
Per person in a twin room
Rail from London Paddington
Per person in a twin room
Rail from London Paddington
Supplements per person
Single supplement £1000
Table for two £400
Puffin Island & Beaumaris £40 per person
Visit Caernarfon Castle – a World Heritage Site £40
A Trip on the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways £60
A Trip on The Snowdon Railway £65
Visit Bodnant Garden and Conwy £40
Visit Plas Newydd and Penrhyn Castle £50
Rail Travel as indicated, 4 nights’ accommodation, one overnight in Shrewsbury and three in Portmeirion Village, breakfast and dinner daily, 2 lunches on board train, seating in Pullman-Style carriages with a premium railway dining experience, porterage, itinerary as described, services of guides and local representatives.
Travel insurance, visa procurement, optional excursions, tipping, any government taxes or compulsory charges introduced after publication.
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