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