Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Arriva Trains Wales 'Club 55' day out to Swansea

Yesterday, 29th March, a friend and I decided to make use of the ATW 'Club 55' offer of any destination on the ATW network for £15 return - £13 with a senior railcard. But where to go? We live in Wilmslow, so we are on the ATW Manchester to South Wales route and decided on Swansea as our destination. Outbound, we'd use the picturesque and delightful single-track 'Heart of Wales' line. We'd return by the faster direct route via Cardiff and The Marches through Hereford and Ludlow.

Our 'Heart of Wales' train which we boarded at Shrewsbury for the delightful journey

We caught the 07:47 class 175 Milford Haven service from Wilmslow as far as Shrewsbury, where we boarded the lightly-loaded 09:05 class 152 for the Heart of Wales line journey. This follows the main line to South Wales as far as Craven Arms, where it turns sharp right onto the delightful single track Heart of Wales line. The weather was dry but misty so we didn't get all the glorious views that this line usually offers. However, the journey was delightful.

Interesting platform decoration at Dolau

At Llanwrtyd Wells the northbound train from Swansea to Shrewsbury crosses our southbound train at the passing loop (there are several passing loops on this single track railway)

The northbound and southbound trains pass at Llanwrtyd Wells

Llanwrtyd Wells station

The 121 miles between Swansea and Shrewsbury includes the Radnor Forest between Llandrindod Wells and Knighton, the Eppynt hills near Llanwrtyd Wells, the meandering river Tywi between Llandeilo and Llandovery, and the Loughor estuary near Llanelli. At Llanelli the train reverses for the short leg across the top of the Gower Penninsula to Swansea where we arrived several minutes early, at 12:55 just in time for a swift pint in Swansea!.

Heading south and looking north just after Sugar Loaf summit tunnel

The view from Cynghordy Viaduct

At Llandovery the driver enters the hut to phone the signalman and obtain the 'token' to authorise the train's entry into the next single-line section, as the guard chats to him

Loughor Estuary, near Llangennech

Our train (second from right) arrives a few minutes early at Swansea

The return journey was on the 13:55 class 175 to Manchester via Cardiff and The Marches line. Like our morning train from Wilmslow to Shrewsbury, this was a 2-coach unit and therefore somewhat overcrowded, though from Cardiff onwards it was less so. We sped up The Marches line to Shrewsbury, then onwards to Crewe to arrive on time in Wilmslow at 17:45.

A misty view of 'The Skirrid', a hill of distinct shape near Abergavenny, seen from our train from Swansea to Wilmslow

Shrewsbury signalbox

What a great day out on some of Wales' most scenic railways, and all for £13!

My return ticket; £13 for our day out to Swansea!

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