Criccieth Castle, Harlech Castle and St Davids Bishop's Palace are in the care of Cadw. Register with the Cadw Tour Operator Scheme (CTOS) to become a member of Cadw’s online group booking scheme. Members benefit from preferential trade rates and discounts, complimentary admission for your tour leader, complimentary introductions to Cadw monuments, enhanced information for existing tours and invoicing following your visit. Site Entry tickets are currently released one week in advance of visit. See Cadw Admissions for more information.
Start your journey along The Coastal Way by a visit to Bardsey Island, open for visitors from March until October. It is a small island off the Llyn Peninsula and is often referred to as the island of 10,000 saints because it was a place of pilgrimage since the early years of Christianity. It is now home to a fabulous diversity of seabirds, seals and dolphins and spectacular scenery. Visitors can also discover its fascinating maritime history, including wrecks and smugglers’ caves. Day trips are available from Porth Meudwy near Aberdaron and self catering properties are also available. Trips will take approximately four hours and there is the opportunity to stay overnight. Please discuss parking arrangements when booking your boat trip in advance. Not suitable for coach parties.
Visit Plas Glyn-y-Weddw, an arts centre with its own picture and print collection and an important display of Swansea and Nantgarw porcelain. It overlooks the magnificent mountains of Snowdonia and Cardigan Bay in North West Wales. There is also an award winning tearoom and craft shop selling Welsh crafts.
Criccieth Castle was built on the headland overlooking the sea. The ruins of the twin-towered gatehouse now dominate the town. The castle was built by Llywelyn the Great (one of the Welsh princes) and it was taken by Edward I’s forces only 50 years later and undertook their own improvements including remodelling the towers. Allow about 45 minutes to visit. There is a car park for two coaches at Y Maes, LL52 0HS.
From Porthmadog take a ride on the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railway, a historic narrow gauge steam railway passing through the stunning Snowdonia countryside. It was built to transport the slate from the slate mines of Blaenau Ffestiniog to the port of Porthmadog for onward sailings worldwide. Each way takes about one hour. If designing an itinerary with a coach, you don’t have to do the return journey. Clients can alight at a station stop of your choice which could include Minffordd with easy access to Portmeirion or Tan y Bwlch. A short journey to Plas Tan y Bwlch (Snowdonia National Park’s Study Centre) has a garden and tearoom (tearoom open Easter – October). Visit the website for more information on group travel and coach parties.
If times allows, visit Llechwedd where clients can either travel deep into the belly of a mine on the Deep Mine Tour, or take an off road adventure with the Quarry Explorer, which takes guests to the top of the man-made summits or the ultimate Slate Mountain Adventure. Discover what life was like for a 19th century slate worker and view extreme landscape 1400ft (427m) above sea level. Suitable for groups and coach parking.
Overnight suggestions: Portmeirion or Criccieth
Harlech Castle has World Heritage Status. It is dramatically located on a rocky outcrop overlooking Cardigan Bay. Built at the end of the 13th century, there were about 1,000 labourers and craftsmen who constructed two rings of walls and towers and a gatehouse that meant invasion was impossible. The latest addition is a newly installed ‘floating’ bridge enabling access to all. The bridge connects the castle with the brand new visitor centre with hi tech interpretation and a café. Allow at least 45 minutes to visit the castle. Coaches can park in the Bron y Graig upper car park which is less than a five minute walk away from the castle.
The market town of Machynlleth was where Owain Glyndŵr was crowned Prince of Wales in 1404 in the presence of leaders from Scotland, Spain and France and he established his parliament in the town. There are many historic buildings in the town to visit, including the Owain Glyndŵr Centre (The Parliament House) that today houses an interpretation centre and The Royal House that was built in the 14th century and was where King Charles I stayed during The English Civil War during the 1640s. Today visitors can still experience the weekly Wednesday market and biannual fair that date back to a Royal Charter issued in 1291! There is a car park in on Maengwyn Street, in the town centre, but this is not suitable for coaches.
This afternoon, visit Aberdovey (Aberdyfi), a pretty harbourside village with the Snowdonian mountains as a backdrop. Take a walk along the waterfront and wander around the shops and galleries. If your clients enjoy a round of golf there’s the links course at Aberdovey Golf Club which is rated as one of the top 100 courses in the UK and Ireland. The main car park can be found at Terrace Road, LL35 0EA. There are no designated coach spaces.
Overnight suggestion: Aberystwyth
The university town of Aberysytwyth is also home to The National Library of Wales, they have copies of every book and newspaper published in Britain and Ireland. There are also temporary exhibitions about Wales in the galleries. On permanent show is The Nanteos Cup - legend states that it is the Holy Grail. There are weekly guided tours available that last about an hour which must be booked in advance. Parking spaces for coaches and minibuses must also be arranged in advance by contacting +44 (0) 1970 632 848. Other highlights include Aberystwyth Cliff Railway and Aberystwyth Arts Centre.
Take a scenic journey on the Vale of Rheidol Railway. Travellers can enjoy the luxury of first class observation carriages or in the summer open top carriages allow stunning views of the Rheidol Valley. Each way on the steam railway takes an hour and visitors can alight to see Devils Bridge that has taken centre stage on the crime drama Hinterland. All the information for groups and coach drivers can be found on their webpage.
Aberaeron, well known for its pastel coloured buildings by the quayside is one of the few planned towns in Wales. The town was planned in the regency style around a large open square named Alban Square. Please note there are no designated coach bays in the car park.
Nearby is Llanerchaeron, a Georgian Mansion that has hardly changed in 200 years. The estate includes a farm, walled gardens and lake. The house was designed by John Nash in 1790s who went on to design Regent Street and Buckingham Palace in London. There are walled kitchen gardens and the working farm has Welsh Black cattle, Llanwenog sheep, and rare Welsh pigs as well as chickens, geese and doves. The café is a great place to stop for a lunch or afternoon tea and uses many of the ingredients from the Llanerchaeron estate and small Ceredigion producers to provide fresh, seasonal food throughout the year. Discounts are available for groups of 15 or more. Tours are to be arranged in advance. There is a free car park, suitable for coaches.
Overnight suggestion: Aberaeron
New Quay was made famous by Dylan Thomas and was possibly the inspiration for his famous play Under Milk Wood. Today, it is popular with dolphin watchers as they can often be seen from the quayside. Parking for coaches can be found on Church Road.
Cardigan Castle has recently reopened after a £12 million renovation programme. Visitors to the site can take a tour round the splendid Georgian mansion to learn all about the history, the people who lived here, and how it became the birthplace of Wales’ biggest cultural festival, the Eisteddfod. Discounts are available for groups and tours can be arranged in advance. The nearest car park for coaches can be found on Quay Street.
Take a photo stop at The Nevern Cross on the south side of the church in the village of Nevern. It is one of the most intricately carved Celtic Crosses and is 13ft high and dates from the 10th or 11th century. Nearby is the famous bleeding yew tree and various legends about it exist; the wrongful hanging of a young man many years ago, it will bleed until there is a Welsh prince on the seat at Nevern Castle or it will bleed until the world is at peace.
Overnight suggestion: St Davids
St Davids is the smallest city in Great Britain. St Davids Cathedral is the focus of the city and in the middle ages, two pilgrimages to St Davids is equal to one to Rome, and three pilgrimages to one to Jerusalem. Wander around the cathedral and the nearby St Davids Bishop's Palace and afterwards there are plenty of galleries and craft shops to explore.
The Pembrokeshire Coast National Park has its visitor centre in St Davids. ‘Oriel y Parc’ also has exhibitions from The National Museum of Wales and is a good place for your clients to plan walks along the Pembrokeshire coast path National Trail. Parking which is suitable for coaches can be found on Ffordd Caerfai, SA62 6NW
For more inspiration visit the Celtic Routes website, a new way to discover West Wales and Ireland’s Ancient East, highlighting local culture, heritage and natural environment.