A Journey Through the Wonderful Heritage of Wales

A Journey Through the Wonderful Heritage of Wales

A Journey Through the Wonderful Heritage of Wales

Prices From $5,990p/p

Meandering from the South of glorious Cymru to the North, our exciting journey through Welsh heritage encompasses the highlights of this rugged and beautiful country. We discover the ‘Land of Castles’ with visits to five magnificent fortresses, step back in time aboard the preserved Welsh Highland Railway and delve into the nation’s mining past at the Rhondda Heritage Park, where we are also treated to a private Welsh choir performance. In a country where sheep outnumber people at a ratio of three to one, no visit here is complete without a trip to a working farm, and famous agriculturalist Gareth Wyn Jones welcomes us to his rural idyll for an unforgettable afternoon to round off our tour.

Special extras included in your itinerary
• Guided tour and refreshments at Cardiff Castle
• Guided tour and Welsh-themed dinner at LLanchaiach Fawr Manor
• Guided tour and lunch at The Royal Mint
• Guided tour, Welsh choir performance, Welsh cakes and refreshments at Rhondda Heritage Park
• Ranger talk and lunch at Elan Valley
• Guided walk and lunch at Plas Cadnant Hidden Gardens
• Heritage train journey on the Welsh Highland Railway
• Afternoon tea in Portmeirion
• Journey on the Great Orme Victorian Tramway
• Sheep shearing and sheepdog demonstrations, tractor pull, dinner and Welsh harpist performance at Ty’n Llwyfan Farm
• Canal cruise on the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct with refreshments
• Guided tour of Charlecote Park
• Themed evening talk by a guest speaker

Day 1
Sunday: Arrival

On arrival at Heathrow airport, a private transfer will take you to our overnight hotel, the Macdonald Windsor Hotel. In the evening, join the group for a welcome drink, followed by dinner.

Meals: Dinner

Day 2
Monday: Tintern Abbey and Chepstow Castle

We head first to Tintern Abbey in the beautiful Wye Valley, located on the border between England and Wales. Built by Walter de Clare, Lord of Chepstow in 1131, it was only the second Cistercian foundation in Britain, and the first in Wales. Falling into ruins after the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the 16th century, these atmospheric, romantic remains have inspired poets and painters ever since, including Wordsworth and Turner. There’s time to enjoy some lunch here (not included) before we continue.
Next is the beautifully-preserved Chepstow Castle, which again sits on the border between Wales and Gloucestershire and overlooks the River Wye. The castle was built in 1067 by Earl William FitzOsbern, friend of William the Conqueror, to defend the Welsh Marches and was once known as Striguil (from the Welsh ystraigl for river bend). It evolved over time to cope with ever more destructive weaponry and is a fascinating place to discover more about medieval military architecture, the life of the border lords and the border disputes between the Welsh and English.

Afterwards, we enjoy a photo stop at the England/Wales sign on the border before continuing to Cardiff. Here we check in to the voco St David’s Hotel, where we stay for the next three nights.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 3
Tuesday: Cardiff Castle, Cardiff and LLanchaiach Fawr Manor

Today begins with a special guided tour of Cardiff Castle followed by refreshments. The castle’s history spans over 2,000 years, although the Gothic Victorian fantasy castle we see today was created for the 3rd Marquess of Bute, one of the world’s richest men. We discover the lavish and opulent interiors, rich with murals, stained glass, marble, gilding and elaborate wood carvings.

We then spend some free time in Cardiff, the capital of Wales since 1955, but with a fascinating history stretching back through the centuries. There are many restaurants and pubs to enjoy lunch (not included), and other highlights include the Cardiff National Museum & Art Gallery, home to one of Europe’s finest art collections, and the wide range of shops.

After driving through Pontypridd, the hometown of world-famous Welsh singer Tom Jones, our next visit is to Llancaiach Fawr Manor in the heart of the Rhymney Valley. Designed during the turbulent reigns of Tudor kings and queens on the site of an earlier medieval structure, it is one of the finest examples of a semi-fortified manor in Wales today. The manor is best known as the home of Colonel Edward Prichard who hosted a visit by King Charles I of England in 1645 and has now been restored and furnished as it would have been during Prichard’s tenure. We are treated to a guided tour and a Welsh-themed dinner here.

Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 4
Wednesday: Tredegar House, The Royal Mint and Rhondda Heritage Park

Our first stop is Tredegar House, a late 17th-century restoration house surrounded by 90 acres of beautiful gardens and parkland. For more than 500 years it was home to one of the greatest Welsh families, the Morgans, later Lords Tredegar, and their fascinating narrative is told throughout the house.

Next, we visit The Royal Mint Experience on the outskirts of Cardiff, an interactive exhibition about how coin production works. During our guided tour, we watch as workers mint coins and discover fascinating facts about British coins, giving us a wonderful insight into one of the UK’s oldest institutions. We also enjoy lunch here.

A memorable experience awaits at the Rhondda Heritage Park, where we follow in the footsteps of the coal miners who once worked in the valley and learn about the area’s mining heritage. After our guided tour with a retired miner we enjoy a traditional Welsh choir performance, complete with Welsh cakes and refreshments.

Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 5
Thursday: Elan Valley Visitor Center and Rhug Estate

This morning we head to Elan Valley Visitor Center, set against a magnificent Victorian stone dam. The exhibition and audio-visual show provides an insight to the history and wildlife of the area, and we learn more during our Ranger Talk followed by lunch at the riverside café. There’s also the chance for a photo at Caban Coch dam, once used for secret experiments during World War II in preparation for the famous Dambusters Raid.

We break up our journey with a visit to the spectacular Rhug Estate, home to North Wales’ most exclusive farm shop. Take the chance to enjoy the 30-minute farm walk here or head to the lovely café, popular for its range of artisan treats.

Later we check in to Bodysgallen Hall & Spa, where we stay for the next four nights.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6
Friday: Plas Cadnant Hidden Gardens and Penrhyn Castle

Our first stop today is Plas Cadnant Hidden Gardens, a series of historic gardens which are gradually being restored to their former glory, where we enjoy a guided walk and lunch. Three different gardens have been discovered, including an unusual walled garden with curving walls, a secret valley garden with three waterfalls and a river, and an upper woodland garden with the remains of a 19th-century folly.

On the way to our next destination, we make a brief photo stop at Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, the longest town name in Europe, which translates as ʻSt. Mary's Church in the hollow of white hazel near a rapid whirlpool and the Church of St. Tysilio near the red cave'! We continue to the magnificent Penrhyn Castle. Built in the 19th century in a Neo-Norman style, Penrhyn was constructed on a massive scale over a period of 13 years and offers superb views of Snowdonia. There is so much to see here, from the outstanding collection of paintings, restored Victorian kitchens and a railway museum.

After dinner back at the hotel, we are treated to a fascinating talk by a guest speaker.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7
Saturday: Welsh Highland Railway and Portmeirion

This morning we head to Beddgelert and board the Welsh Highland Railway for a picturesque trip to the quaint coastal town of Porthmadog, admiring the awe-inspiring scenery of the Snowdonia National Park along the way. Stunning coastlines, ancient woodlands, towering mountains, sparkling rivers and historic castles create an enchanting and memorable journey.

We then continue to Portmeirion, an Italianate village created by Sir Clough Williams-Ellis, inspired by his visits to the Mediterranean. Its unique atmosphere has been featured on camera many times, most famously in the iconic 1960s British TV series The Prisoner. After some time to explore, we are treated to afternoon tea here.

Meals: Breakfast, Afternoon Tea

Day 8
Sunday: Great Orme Victorian Tramway, Conwy Castle, The Smallest House in Great Britain and Ty’n Llwyfan Farm

This morning takes us to the traditional seaside resort of Llandudno, where we enjoy a trip on the Great Orme Victorian tramway. Delighting passengers since 1902, this is Britain’s only cable-hauled tramway that travels on public roads and the tramcars have been carefully restored to provide a nostalgic experience. Beginning at Victoria station, the tram meanders through stunning scenery to the summit of the Great Orme headland, offering lovely views of Llandudno below.

From here we head to the medieval walled town of Conwy to visit the imposing Conwy Castle. Classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this imposing castle was built by Edward I during his conquest of Wales in the late 13th century and is considered to be among the finest surviving medieval fortifications in Britain with soaring curtain walls, round towers and fortified gateways.

We also visit another of Conwy’s highlights, The Smallest House in Great Britain. Standing at just 72 inches wide and 122 inches tall, this extraordinary house was lived in until May 1900 (the last occupant was a 6 foot 3 fisherman!) and has since become a popular national treasure.

This afternoon we visit Ty’n Llwyfan Farm for a truly immersive experience. Celebrity farmer Gareth Wyn Jones and his wife and Rhian love sharing their passion and vision for sustainable farming with guests and they invite us to take a peek into their way of life. Nestled in stunning countryside and boasting views over to the Isle of Anglesey, Gareth’s family has been working this land for over 370 years and we find out more during our visit. We also enjoy a tractor pull, sheep shearing and sheepdog demonstrations as well as a local Welsh lamb dinner and a private Welsh harpist performance. As Gareth and Rhian are Welsh speakers, we may like to practice some useful phrases too!

Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 9
Monday: Betws-y-Coed and Erddig Hall

Sit back and relax as we drive through the spectacular Snowdonia National Park, making a short stop in the picturesque village of Betws-y-Coed. There are plenty of craft shops and cafés to enjoy, set against the backdrop of coniferous forests, which has earned this area the name ‘Little Switzerland’.

Next stop is Erddig Hall, an atmospheric early 18th-century house that reflects the ‘upstairs, downstairs’ life of a gentry family, and offers a fascinating insight into the lives of the family and their servants. Outside, don’t miss the superb walled garden, now restored to its former 18th-century formal design with rare fruit trees and a national collection of ivies.

Later we check in to the Rookery Hall Hotel & Spa, where we stay for the next two nights.

Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 10
Tuesday: Chirk Castle and Pontcysyllte Aqueduct

The day starts at Chirk Castle, the last of Edward Longshanks’ magnificent fortresses still inhabited today and boasting over 700 years of history contained within its walls. The medieval dungeons and tower are relics of more brutal times, while the Long Gallery and State Rooms are sumptuous by comparison with a beautiful and eclectic collection reflecting the tastes of the castle’s many occupants. The award-winning gardens contain manicured lawns, clipped yews, herbaceous borders, beautiful rose, shrub and rock gardens.

We then enjoy a slice of traditional Bara Brith as part of our unique canal journey, which features a trip along the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, a World Heritage Site. Translated in English as ‘the bridge that connects’, the incredible feat of Victorian engineering carries the Llangollen Canal across the River Dee and offers stunning views of the surrounding countryside.

Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 11
Wednesday: Charlecote Park

Today we head further south of England. While nearby Stratford is synonymous with Shakespeare’s theatrical success, there lurks in nearby Charlecote Park’s history a far less respectable connection; the famous playwright is rumoured to have been caught poaching deer here. Home to the Lucy family for 900 years, this lovely Tudor manor is a real treasure.

Later, we check back in to the Macdonald Windsor Hotel, where we enjoy a farewell dinner together.

Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 12
Thursday: Departure

A private transfer will take you back to Heathrow airport for your return flight home.

Meals: Breakfast

Please note: the order of excursions is subject to change and guided tours are subject to restrictions.

What’s Included
• Return airport transfers from London Heathrow*
• 2 nights at the Macdonald Windsor Hotel
• 3 nights at the voco St David’s Hotel & Spa
• 4 nights at Bodysgallen Hall & Spa
• 2 nights at the Rookery Hall Hotel & Spa
• Welcome drink and canapés
• Full English/Continental breakfast each day
• 3-course table d’hôte dinner on 7 nights at the hotels (with after-dinner tea and coffee)
• Services of a tour director throughout your stay
• Travel to and from all excursions
• All entrance costs
• Porterage where available

*supplement applies for transfers from all other airports and all other locations including central London

Special extras included in your itinerary
• Guided tour and refreshments at Cardiff Castle
• Guided tour and Welsh-themed dinner at LLanchaiachFawr Manor
• Guided tour and lunch at The Royal Mint
• Guided tour, Welsh choir performance, Welsh cakes and refreshments at Rhondda Heritage Park
• Ranger talk and lunch at Elan Valley
• Guided walk and lunch at Plas Cadnant Hidden Gardens
• Heritage train journey on the Welsh Highland Railway
• Afternoon tea in Portmeirion
• Journey on the Great Orme Victorian Tramway
• Sheep shearing and sheepdog demonstrations, tractor pull, dinner and Welsh harpist performance at Ty’n Llwyfan Farm
• Canal cruise on the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct with refreshments
• Guided tour of Charlecote Park
• Themed evening talk by a guest speaker

Nights One and Eleven – Macdonald Windsor Hotel, Windsor
The Macdonald Windsor Hotel is situated in the heart of the historic town of Windsor, opposite the famous Windsor Castle. The classic interiors, with a contemporary edge, fit perfectly with the Georgian elegance of this townhouse hotel. The luxury bedrooms are individually-designed and the hotel also offers a stylish bar and restaurant.

Nights Two to Four – voco St David’s Hotel & Spa, Cardiff
The contemporary voco St David’s Hotel & Spa, with its dramatic glass-fronted façade, boasts a waterfront position on Cardiff Bay. All the rooms feature luxury bathrooms, air-conditioning and floor-to-ceiling windows. The hotel also offers a bar and restaurant overlooking Cardiff Bay while the Marine Spa features an indoor swimming pool, spa pool and fully equipped gym. Spa treatments are available at an extra cost.

Nights Five to Eight – Bodysgallen Hall & Spa, near Llandudno
One of the three Historic House Hotels of the National Trust, Bodysgallen Hall & Spa is a luxury hotel just two miles from the seaside resort of Llandudno in North Wales. This restored, 17th-century country house stands in over 200 acres of wooded parkland and beautiful formal walled gardens affording lovely views of the Snowdonia mountain range and Conwy Castle. The individually-decorated bedrooms are divided between the main hall and several cottages in the grounds and leisure facilities include a swimming pool, steam room, sauna, solarium and gym.

Nights Nine and Ten – Rookery Hall Hotel & Spa, Nantwich
The Rookery Hall Hotel & Spa is a 19th-century country house hotel set in 38 acres of Cheshire countryside. The hotel has retained many original features including mahogany panelling and ornamental ceilings. The hotel’s spa, set in the converted stable block, offers a glass-roofed swimming pool, hydrotherapy pool, steam room and gym.