Experience Cumbria and North Wales the right way on this ‘Great Little Trains of Wales’ steam tour.
Travel on main line steam over the famous Settle to Carlisle Railway, along the picturesque North Wales Coast line, and up the dramatic Conway Valley to Blaenau Ffestiniog. You’ll also journey on a fascinating variety of ‘Great Little Trains’ on the Snowdon Mountain, Ffestiniog, Fairbourne, Talyllyn, Welshpool and Llanfair, and the Vale of Rheidol Railways. And one definitive tour highlight is a trip over the rebuilt Welsh Highland Railway, one of the railway wonders of the 21st century. Steam train travel is a unique way to experience the outstanding landscapes of the British Isles, and for this epic steam tour, with limited spaces available, we recommend you book early to make sure of your place!
Friday 20th July
Your tour begins at the Holiday Inn Hotel, Manchester City Centre in Manchester, which will be your base for the next two nights. Arrive as early as possible and explore this fine city at your leisure. Dinner will be at your hotel this evening. (D)
Saturday 21st July
The Settle to Carlisle Railway
Today you join the ‘Cumbrian Mountain Express’ steam train at Manchester Victoria Station and your journey begins with an impressive departure hauled by one of the magnificent steam locomotives. Breakfast will be served at your seat soon after. You head north to Preston and Carnforth and skirt the Lake District before entering the Lune Valley. Your fully extended steam locomotive ascends to the summit of Shap Fell before descending through Penrith North Lakes, pausing at Carlisle for a two-hour break to explore this Border City. Leaving Carlisle you join the Settle and Carlisle Railway, climbing up through Langwathby and Culgaith and pausing for water at the market town of Appleby. Through stunning scenery you climb the steep gradient to Ais Gill summit and traverse Dent Dale, from where the Peaks of Whernside, Ingleborough and Pen-y-Ghent dominate the landscape. There are over twenty major viaducts and fourteen tunnels on the line culminating in the magnificent 24-arch Ribblehead Viaduct. On the way back to Manchester you enjoy a four-course dinner, silver-served at your seat, before returning to the Holiday Inn for the night. (B D)
Sunday 22nd July
Steam along the North Wales Coast
After breakfast you take your reserved First Class seat on the ‘North Wales Coast Express’ special steam train at Manchester Piccadilly Station. You join the West Coast Main Line to Warrington. On leaving Chester you cross the River Dee and enter Wales, the route running along the Dee Estuary and then beside the Irish Sea as you pass Prestatyn and Rhyl. This coastline is known for its stunning beaches and, at Colwyn Bay, fantastic views of the Great Orme. You pass through several small seaside resorts on the Irish Sea coast before arriving at Bangor. Here you transfer by road coach to Penrhyn Castle for a short visit. This dramatic neo-Norman fantasy was built in the early 19th century for a wealthy Welsh family. It’s crammed with fascinating objects and its stable block contains an industrial railway, a doll collection, and model railway museums. Afterwards your coach takes you across Anglesey to Holyhead to rejoin the steam train for the return journey to Llandudno. You take the short walk to the Imperial Hotel there and check in for dinner and overnight accommodation. (B D)
Monday 23rd July
Steam on the Snowdon Mountain and Welsh Highland Railways
This morning you transfer to Llanberis Station for a steam-hauled trip on the Snowdon Mountain Railway, with its superb summit views, weather permitting! Back in Llanberis there is free time to explore this delightful Snowdonian town and have lunch. In the afternoon you take a trip on the Welsh Highland Railway from Caernarfon to Porthmadog, through the magnificent Snowdonia National Park. This fantastic 25 mile journey, steam hauled by a two-foot narrow gauge Garratt locomotive, begins close to Caernarfon Castle. It takes you through spectacular mountain scenery, Beddgelert, and the famous Aberglaslyn Pass. On arrival at Porthmadog you return by road coach to the Imperial Hotel in Llandudno for dinner. (B D)
Tuesday 24th July
A steam spectacular to Blaneau Ffestiniog; the Ffestiniog Railway
After breakfast you take a ride on the 3’6” gauge Great Orme Tramway from Llandudno Victoria Station to Great Orme Summit Station. Then you go on to Llandudno Junction Station to join ‘The Welsh Mountaineer’ special steam train to Blaenau Ffestiniog. You’ll be hauled by a steam locomotive along this incredibly steep branch line, climbing uphill into Snowdonia through Betws-y-Coed and Pont-y-Pant to Blaeneau Ffestiniog. There’ll be a couple of hours to explore Blaeneau Ffestiniog and have lunch before you travel on the Ffestiniog Railway to Porthmadog. Transferring to Portmeirion you have dinner and stay overnight at The Hotel Portmeirion. (B D)
Wednesday 25th July
Steam on the Fairbourne and Talyllyn Railways
After breakfast you transfer by road coach to Fairbourne for a return journey on the Fairbourne Railway. This 12¼” gauge railway runs for 3.2 km (2 miles) alongside the beach to the end of a peninsula at the mouth of the Mawddach Estuary, one of the most spectacular locations along the Cambrian Coast. You continue by coach to nearby Tywyn where you travel on the narrow gauge Talyllyn Railway (TR). The TR is notable for being the first preserved railway in the United Kingdom. This 2’ 3” gauge railway runs for 11.7 km (7.25 miles) to Nant Gwernol. On return to Tywyn there’ll be time for lunch and a visit to the narrow gauge railway museum. You then transfer by coach from Tywyn to Aberystwyth for dinner and an overnight stay at the Marine Hotel. (B D)
Thursday 26th July
Vale of Rheidol and Welshpool and Llanfair Railways
Today you travel steam-hauled on the Vale of Rheidol Railway from Aberystwyth to Devil’s Bridge. From Devil’s Bridge you transfer by road coach to Welshpool. After lunch in the town you begin your journey on the picturesque 2’6” gauge Welshpool and Llanfair Railway. There’s an enjoyable steam-hauled ride through the delightful Banwy Valley to Llanfair Caereinion to follow, before you return to Welshpool. From there you journey to Manchester by road coach, calling at Chester Station on the way if you prefer to catch a train there for your homeward journey. (B)
Locomotives will be confirmed nearer the time of departure.
All prices shown are per person.
Meals included each day are shown as:
B = Breakfast - L = Lunch - D = Dinner