In May 2020, join us on this tour which takes in some of the most remote parts of England and Wales. We’ll travel through some of the most unspoilt countryside in Britain visiting the West Country Moors, Cambrian Mountains, Snowdonia, the Lakeland Fells, and the Moors and Dales of Northern England.
Along the way, passengers will stay in some of the most fabulous hotels that the areas have to offer. The peerless Italianite village of Portmeirion in Snowdonia, where Pullman Style Dining passengers will spend three nights, is one of the highlights.
Thursday 7 – Friday 15 May 2020
- 2 nights on English Riviera
- 1 night in Camarthen
- 3 nights in Snowdonia or Portmeirion
- 2 nights in Brontë Country
Day 1 – Thursday 7th May – London to Dartmouth
Leaving London Victoria mid-morning, we speed down the South Western mainline for a lunchtime break in Salisbury to visit its famous Cathedral, before setting off towards Exeter and along the famous Dawlish Sea Wall with its fantastic views of the English Channel. Our train finishes its journey in Torbay by joining the preserved Dartmouth Steam Railway for our eventual destination of Kingswear on the banks of the River Dart.
Day 2 – Friday 8th May – Exploring South Devon and the Moors
Today you will have a day at leisure with plenty of time to explore what is a delightful part of the country with plenty of excursions to areas and attractions nearby including the famous Buckfast Abbey at the foot of Dartmoor. There will of course be the option of travelling on the Dartmouth Steam Railway or even enjoying a steam ferry journey along the Dart to Totnes before joining the South Devon Railway and then completing the circuit on the Dartmouth Steam Railway.
Day 3 – Saturday 9th May – Kingswear to Camarthen via Gloucester
After a leisurely breakfast in in our hotels, we re-join the train and head back past Dawlish and then on to Taunton, past Bristol to the Cathedral City of Gloucester where we will have a lunchtime break for our locos to be serviced and ready for our journey into West Wales.
Leaving Gloucester we are soon travelling along one of the most beautiful and lesser known routes in Southern Britain, hugging the ever widening Severn Estuary past picture postcard views of both the Bristol Channel and historic towns like Lydney and Chepstow where we cross over the River Wye in full view of its Castle. Passengers will no doubt be fully enjoying the relaxed pace of steam-hauled travel as we head into Wales passing through the Capital City of Cardiff and on towards the far West of the country. To our North we will see the seemingly endless hills and valleys of South Wales while to the South there will be occasional glimpses of the Bristol Channel as we reach the sleepy market town of Carmarthen.
Day 4 – Sunday 10th May – The Heart of Wales and Cambrian Coast Lines
After breakfast in our hotels we set off double-headed by steam over one of the most remote and scenic railways in Britain, the Central Wales line marketed now as The Heart of Wales, which sees only a handful of single short passenger trains per day. This single track line passes through the Carmarthenshire Hills, the edge of the Brecon Beacons and then heads straight through the middle of the Black Mountains. As our locomotives climb the challenging gradients, wind their way around the hills and cross the many majestic viaducts on the route, we are surrounded by classic moor and mountain countryside dotted with streams, jagged peaks and of course Welsh sheep and new-born lambs!
We will chug into the market town of Shrewsbury by lunchtime to enjoy some time exploring the surrounding medieval streets and the Abbey and Castle. In the mid-afternoon our train will set forth, now hauled by vintage diesel, as steam is not compatible with the signalling system on the Cambrian Coast line. We head west through the Cambrian Mountains, past the summit at Talerdigg before descending down to the mid Wales town of Machynlleth.
We continue our journey alongside the River Dovey before arriving at the Irish Sea coastline and turning north. The views from here on are quite outstanding with the line hugging the coast much of the way and climbing to the top of the cliffs and then descending back to sea level. Near the coastal town of Barmouth we cross the bridge of the same name over the River Mawddach. It was this bridge that very nearly caused the line’s closure in the 1980s when it was discovered by BR engineers to have weevils that were eating it away but luckily sense prevailed and the line has been fully repaired and has survived to become a great success story. Shortly after Barmouth we pass Harlech Castle, where Owen Glendowr was defeated. Finally we turn west to reach our day’s destination, Porthmadog, which nestles at the foot of Snowdonia, where we will spend the next three nights.
Days 5 & 6 – 11th & 12th May – Exploring Snowdonia
Snowdonia has so many famous tourist places to visit that two whole days here will not be enough for some! For lovers of steam railways there are of course several of the famous Little Trains of Wales in the area including the Ffestiniog railway, the Tallynn Railway, Snowdon Mountain Railway and of course the relatively recent addition of the 24 mile long Welsh Highland Railway that cuts through Snowdonia from Porthmadog to Caernarfon. As part of our optional excursions we will be organising journeys for our passengers on these railways.
Optional Excursions for those away from railways will include visits to Bodnant Gardens, Puffin Island and some of the beautiful castles of the region at Beaumaris and Penrhyn.
Day 7 – Wednesday 13th May – Snowdonia to Brontë Country
We meet at Bangor or Llandudno Junction and set off, steam hauled, along the North Wales Coast line which again runs eastwards along the shore line with views to Snowdonia to the South before passing through Flint and back into England at Chester. We turn north westwards cross country to join the West Coast mainline for a short break in Preston where passengers unusually will have enough time to visit the very prominent Preston Cathedral while the loco is serviced.
For the second half of the day passengers will enjoy a unique journey by steam as we first of all head North and climb past the Lakeland Fells and over the summit at Shap before descending towards Carlisle. As the evening draws in we travel along one of the great Victorian feats of construction, the Settle and Carlisle Railway. Our steam locomotive will be working hard as it ascends into the Pennines and passes the many moors and peaks along the route as the sun starts to set. After climbing to the summit at Blea Moor we descend down towards the Dales and the area known as Brontë Country where we will be spending the next two nights.
Day 8 – Thursday 14th May – Exploring Brontë Country and the Dales
Today there is no main line steam action and passengers will have the opportunity to explore the many attractions in the area – not least to relive the romantic surroundings where Heathcliff and Cathy had their tryst! We will visit the famous village of Haworth – home of the Bronte family. As always there will be optional visits to some of the many preserved railways in the area including the Wensleydale Railway or the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway where of course the film ‘The Railway Children’ was filmed.
Day 9 – Friday 15th May – Brontë Country to London
The last day of our trip dawns, and after breakfast in our hotels we will head off South travelling through the heart of England along the Midland mainline, which is an unusual route for Steam Dreams. Once we have passed through the edge of Leeds and Sheffield we pass through the town of Chesterfield with its famous bent spire visible from the train, through the East Midlands and then over the world famous Harringworth Viaduct between Melton Mowbray and Corby before finally arriving at our destination, London Victoria, as the rush hour ends.
Click here to view the holiday brochure online or download your own version.
For more information, or to book, please call the Booking Office on 01483 209888. Alternatively, fill in the form below to register your interest in the trip, and a member of the booking team will reply with your holiday quote.