Traveling in Wales

By | November 12, 2005

Rail: like the rest of the UK is that too welsh Railway network has been privatized. Most of the routes in Wales are operated by Arriva Wales. Exceptions are the routes London-Cardiff-Swansea (operated by First Great Western) and London-Chester-Holyhead (operated by Virgin Trains).

The rail operator is the National Rail Inquiry Service. Reservations can also be made there by telephone and tickets can be bought. Much of the north-south line in Wales serves to connect the English rail network to the seaports of Swansea, Pembroke, Fishguard and Holyhead. In the interior of the country, on the other hand, there are a few tourist routes that are worthwhile for tourists, on which an astonishingly large number of old steam locomotives and narrow-gauge railways wrong. Wales’ most beautiful railway line begins in Shrewsbury, England. The line called the “Heart of Wales” runs along the Cambrian Line across Mid Wales, then along the coast and finally ends in Swansea. Another gem is the railway line along the scenic Conwy Valley in the north of the country.

There are first and second class trains on the Welsh rail network. Each train operator sets its own tariffs and its own discount system.

Automobile: if you want to see as much of Wales as possible in the shortest possible time, you should travel the country by car or motorcycle. However, gasoline is quite expensive. Driving is uncomplicated in both the north and south of the country. In the mountainous areas inland, on the other hand, the country roads are often very narrow and have their pitfalls, especially in winter. However, those who face the winding, narrow streets will be rewarded with the view of a breathtaking landscape.

Automobile Clubs
The main automobile clubs in the UK are the Auto-Cycle Union, Automobile Association, Bike Tours UK and the Royal Atomobile Club.

If you arrive with your own vehicle, you should make sure in advance that your insurance cover also applies to Great Britain. The minimum requirement is liability insurance.

Cars are expensive in the UK. If you want to rent a car, you have to be between 23 and 65 years old. Anyone who falls below or exceeds the age limit must pay surcharges. In addition, tenants need a credit card, both for the reservation and for the deposit. The main car rental companies are Alamo, Avis, Budget, Europcar, Fat Quote, Hertz and Holiday Autos.

Bus: There are few long-haul bus routes in Wales. A few providers, however, have become a Traws Cambria network. Routes operated by TrawsCambria include Bangor-Aberystwyth, Aberystwyth-Cardiff and Aberystwyth-Cardigan-Brecon-Newtown.

Most other bus routes travelers have to put together from bus connections from more than 70 private bus companies. Traveline Cymru is the central point of contact for all bus route and timetable information.

The largest bus companies in Wales are Arriva Cymru with services in the north and west of the country, First Cymru (south west Wales), National Express (across the UK) and Stagecaoch with services in south east Wales.

A trip on the Royal Mail Postbus offers an authentic view of rural Wales. Post buses are often the only means of public transport in remote areas. They can carry between four and ten people and can be stopped anywhere on their route.

Bike: if you are a cycling enthusiast, the rural areas of Wales are a great destination. There is little traffic on the back roads and there are numerous hiking trails. The distances between individual points of contact are usually short. There are also three long-distance cycle routes running through Wales, which are part of the National Cycle Network. If you want to cover longer distances by bike, you should be an experienced cyclist in the partly hilly or mountainous terrain.

In the cities there are few bike paths and sometimes ruthless drivers. Parked bicycles should always be well secured, especially in cities. Many hotels and pensions have a safe bicycle storage facility ready for their guests.

Renting and buying
bikes There are bike rentals in larger cities. Otherwise, travelers can buy a bike on arrival in Wales and negotiate with the seller to buy it back later on departure.

Bicycles can be taken on most trains. However, space is limited and on many train connections a place must be reserved 24 hours in advance to take a bike with you. Such connections are marked with an “R” on the timetables.

Arriva Trains Wales operates most of the railways in the country and publishes an annual brochure entitled “Cycling by Train”, which can also be downloaded from the company’s website.

Traveling in Wales