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for the discerning traveller Summer 2019

Wish you were here

Wales – Domain of the Dragon

Scotland – Have a whale of a time

Door S tep Destin ations. Th issue w e featu is re great d estinat 2 io practic ally wi ns th walkin g dista in nce

shutterstockHelen Hotson

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This is the summer edition of Beau Travel, unfortunately it would appear our “summer week” has already been and gone even if the latest statistics confirm that July was the hottest month on record ever we are now in an unsettled period so get your umbrellas out, here I go again talking about the weather it’s almost a hobby for the British.

Julie Callaghan: Editor-in-Chief Tel: 0121 445 6961 Beau Business Media Simon Walton: Scottish editor Tel: 015890 760686 Sales Director: Hugh Cairns Tel: 01284 789 220 Tel: 07973 911 948 Beau Business Media

Sales: Emma Middleton, Belinda Ashley, Martin Greenwood Tel: 0121 445 6961

Design: Alexina Whittaker, Paul Hemsley

I never thought for one moment that I would be mentioning the B word this far along the road, so I won’t. All there is to say is, that whatever the outcome is, people will still want to travel and enjoy the delights of this country and further afield, although it has to be said they may not have as much money to spend so they will have to choose wisely, consequently tour operators are going to have to up there game in terms of quality and service, perhaps offering something unique or going the extra mile.

2020 will be the Year of Coasts and Waters, so as well the traditional tours of distilleries that produce “the water of life” there is a new range of attractions and events, including the Hebridean Whale Trail the first of its kind in the UK, what a fabulous way to spend a day searching for these fantastic animals. Happy traveling

This edition we are concentrating more on home than away, with articles Julie about Scotland and Wales. VisitScotland have announced that

Production: Laura Collins

Publishing Director: Nigel Whittaker Beau Business Media

Beau Business Media Group Ltd Publishing House, Windrush, Ash Lane, Birmingham, B48 7TS Tel: 0121 445 6961 Wales Picture courtesy of © Crown copyright 2018 (Visit Wales).

Beau Travel magazine is a digital publication with a controlled circulation freely available to qualifying applicants. Care is taken to ensure that the information contained within the magazine is accurate. However, the publisher cannot accept liability for errors or omissions, no matter how they arise. Readers are advised to get facts and statements confirmed by suppliers when making enquiries. The opinions of the author are not necessarily those as the publisher. All rights are reserved. No reproduction of any part of this magazine may be carried out without the consent of the publisher being obtained in the first instance.



News Features

Beau Travel Magazine Page 12

Scotland - Page 2

It has been said “take some more water with it” 2020 has been designated the Year of Coasts and Water, but don’t worry you purists, it doesn’t have to touch your whisky.

Wales - Page 28

The land of Little Dragons and Big Landscapes, the dragons aren’t the only fire breathing creatures, some of the best Heritage Railways in the country are here.


Page 28

Beau Travel Magazine Page 38

Š Crown copyright 2018 (Visit Wales).

Š Crown copyright 2018 (Visit Wales).


Edinburgh -The Fringe When you look at this picture you wouldn't automatically think of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe (often referred to as simply The Fringe). Although the whisky sign in the background means you're probably in Scotland, it is the world's largest arts festival, which in 2018 spanned 25 days and featured more than 55,000 performances of 3,548 different shows in 317 venues. It has been called the "most famous celebration of arts and entertainment in the world, it has catapulted some of the acts who have performed here onto international acclaim, and in many cases rightly so, some of the funniest acts and shows have started here.

Shutterstock Nick Fox

Wish you were here...

Scenic sunrise with many hot air balloons above Bagan

Bagan in Myanmar is one of the world’s greatest archaeological sites, a sight to rival Machu Picchu or Angkor Wat and UNESCO World Heritage Site packed with fabulous temples and pagodas with panoramic view points and after having the pleasure of seeing these iconic buildings up close and personal imagine seeing them from the skies, breath-taking.

Shutterstock Nick Fox

Wish you were here...

The Museum of Arts and Popular Customs of Seville See Spain away from the beaches bars and resturaents of the coast, visit Seville and discover the cultural delights it has to offer, including the Museum of Arts and Popular Customs created in 1972, set in the Mudejar Pavilion designed by architect AnĂ­bal GonzĂĄlez for the 1929 Spanish-American Exhibition.. The museum is dedicated to the ethnological heritage of Andalusia, both material and human.Well worth spending a couple of hours wondering around.

shutterstock_By Alexander Demyanenko

Wish you were here...

Snapshots of Scotland - A guide for groups This could well be the year to make a splash in Scotland, says supplement s editor Simon Walton. After the success of a series of themed years for tourism, the industry's promotional body, VisitScotland has announced that 2020 will be the Year of Coasts and \Xl'aters. \Ve think that's a great choice for groups. If you added up all of Scotland's coastline, and made it into one long beach, the sandy strand would stretch around the world. \Xl'e made up that statistic, but we're pretty sure there's enough sea­ washed shore to keep you and your group paddling against the tide for a long while to come. From the links golf courses ofNairnshire to the sea foodie delights of the Solway Firth; and from che surf and beach hues of Coldingham Bay to the famous airstrip on Barra's beautiful beach, there's something to t urn heads and t urn the tide in favour of visiting coastal Scotland. Of the waters, need we say more than rivers, whisky and the Misty Isle. The Tay, the Tweed, The Forth and The Clyde- they all have history and heritageboth built and natural - to make your visit Row with a hundred stories. Then, if not mighty rivers, consider the lowland and highland springs chat cont ribute their peaty freshness to uisge-beatha 'the water of life'. W hisky distilling aside, the Misty Isle- Skye- would not be the fantasy island it is, if not for the Atlantic in the Air that gives it that remarkable climate. All we say is, when it comes to the Coasts and Waters of Scotland- don't resist- just enjoy yourselves and go with the Row.

For a new perspective on some charming towns and rugged landscape, follow the Soutli WestCoastal 300, which tours through tlie Galloway interior, famous for everytliing from Robert Burns to Dark Skies astronom:1. Check out tlie Wigrown Book Festival while you're there. Then tliere's llieCoig - another newly designated route, tliar affords a new perspective on tlie Ayrshire and Clyde coasts. CulzeanCastle and Largs resort are an1ong the treasures mar await. Follow llieCoig and you'll be well placed to board me TS �een Mary on me River Clyde which is get ting set to be one of tlie UK's largest interactive maritime and social history exhibics. 1n Edinburgh, A bmdmark former Art-Deco department store is set to find new life as the state-of-tlie-artjohnniie Walker Whisk)' visiror attraction on the capital's Princes Street. In East Lothi,m, half an hour by train from Edinburgh's iconic Waverley Station, tlie Scottish Seabird Centre is reopening its doors following completion of the first stage of an extensive refurbishment. Work continues to bring tlie Great Tapestr)' of Scotland home co Galashiels, an hour south of Edinburgh on the­ world fan1ous Borders Railway. Then north, over the iconic Fortli and Tay Bridges, tlie V&A Dundee has made me city of jute, jan1 and journalism into tlie design capital of Scotland. Aberdeen's reinvented conference centre has been drawing business groups north, as the oil capital of Europe fast evolves into a leader in renewables. Not tliat your group will be willing to renew anything otl1er than acquaintance witli tlie fabulous beach stretching between tlie Don and tlie Dee, two meandering waters tliat hardly need reintroduction. 1l1en again, the charm of Scotland is in the old, always mingling witli che new. Ratlm like a well blended whisky, you might say.

Contents Introduction & Forward - Page 3 Perthshire and around - Page 4 The Heart of Scotland Perth on the silvery River Tay Towards the Trossachs and Loch Lomond National Park - Page 6 Inverness and The Moray Firth­ Page 6 Further West and Skye Misty Island Adventure­ Page 8

Aberdeen, Orkney and Shetland Islands - Page 12 The River Tweed, The Borders and The Lothlans - Page 12 Edinburgh - Festival City - Page 14

New for your group in the coming year 1l1ere are a range of new am-actions and even cs, coming on stream during Scotland's Year ofCoascs and Waters. Among tliem, tliere's tl1e self-exphmatory Hebridean Wha.le Trail, tlie first of ics kind in the UK, and some new road trips, taking in winding coastlines and characterful communities.

Managing Director: Nigel WhitL�ker Publishing Director: I l ugh Cairns Production: Laura Collins Design:Alexina \X'hiuaker Beau Business Media Group Ltd P ublishing ! louse, Windrush, Ash Lane, Birmingham, B48 TTS Tel: 0121 445 6961 e-mail: beaubusinessmedia@gm

This publication is a controlled circulation and freely available to qualifring applicants. Care is taken to ensure that the information contained within the magazine is accurate. I lowever, the publisher cannot accept liability for errors or omissions, no matter how they arise. Readers are advised to get facts and statements confirmed by suppliers when making enquiries. The opinions of the author are not necessarily those as the publisher. All rights are reserved. No reproduction of any part of this magazine may be carried out without the consent of the publisher being obtained in the first instance. Images on page 1 cge2010/, (main image) baibaz/, Pecold/, Anton_lvanov/ (left t0 right) Images on page 4 and 5 Rudy Balasko/, (main image) vichie8l/ skrfish/


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Perthshire and around - The Heart of Scotland Take the train north from Glasgow and through Stirling and, although you already have glimpsed the Kilsyth Hills, The Falkirk Wheel, the Wallace Monument and pretty Dw1blane, you've still plenty to watch out for on the rWl north across the rolling coW1tryside of Strathallan. The southern end of the A9 rWls a few miles to the east you can see the traffic making its way, as you speed through Blackford - home of Highland Spring mineral water, the Tullibardine Distillery and a bespoke and popular high-end shopping and leisure parade, that's popular with coach visitors, taking the low road into modern-day Perthshire. Your train however will visit an even more iconic part of Scotland's heritage, as the friendly annow1cement declares Gleneagles to be the next stop. It's not quite the important jW1ction it once was lines to the market town of Crieff, and a branch into the famous hotel have long since gone, but you can still be transferred the two miles co the prestigious resort on demand. Groups though may find their own transport to be the preferred option. It's no surprise then that the daily Highland Chiefi:ain through service between Inverness and London King's Cross and the Caledonian Sleeper to London Euston both call here daily to collect more than its fair share of passengers heading for rhe first class carriages.

Perth on the silvery River Tay Soon though Perth will be your destination, either by road or rail. The station echoes its Victorian grandeur, as me meeting point for the gentry, heading to the Highlands for the Season. However, you don't need to be dressed in tweeds, surrounded by hW1ting dogs and carrying enough firearms to shoot down an albatross to enjoy the delights of the Fair City. There's plenty to see and do in the affluent market cown on the pulse of Scotland's agriculmral heartland. 4x4s with wide muddy tyres are not obligatory - bur you'd be forgiven for thinking chat

everyone roW1d here ploughs their fields wim an Evoke or at least a top of the range Discovery. You'll be delighted co discover chat the pedestrianised streets are home co much more than shops selling Range Rover spares. Then, when you've had your fill of fine dining, fine retailing, theatre and fabulous views over the upper River Tay, you can head for the creme of coW1tryside grandeur, and pay a visit to Scone Palace. Yes, the eponymous home of the Scone so famously stolen (and remrned) is only a matter of a few miles from the town centre. Top among the rural shows, Scone is home to the Scottish Game Fair, now in its thirtieth year. If hWlting, shooting and fishing are your things, together with country casual fashions, fabulous food, and all manner of outdoor attractions, chis is definitely not co be missed (}. If your party is just too cool for their own good, they can Ay in to adjacent Perth Aerodrome which might be your preferred way co arrive at the UK's most northerly horse racecourse too. So that's three days in the life of Scone Palace. The ocher 362 are not dull either. Most of them are open co the public in part or in full, and there are always possibilities for bespoke group visits coo. Regal fllfnishings and fine art interiors, blended with tended grounds, a great coffee and food Shop, children's playground and a maze that's free each Friday, Samrday and Sunday throughout November & part December, February & March. They say me Old Kitchen Coffee Shop is open ro well behaved four-legged friends, and if that means you try co bring your docile Highland bull in while you sip a cappuccino - you'll probably not be the first (}. It really is as if you have turned page, when you reach the outskirts of Perth, rightly called the Gateway to the Highlands. All roads and rails lead out, into the wide


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Welcome to

HMS Unicorn Watch the Skilled CRC!ftsyyen cit WORK in ci close-up studio enviRonYYent (�on-FR1)

Unique Ship / Remarkable History









At nearly 200 years old. HMS Unicorn is one of the world's most remarkable historic ships. Preserved as a museum and visitor attraction In Dundee with four atmospheric decks for visitors to explore. HMS Unicorn, of 46 guns, was built for the Royal Navy in the Royal Dockyard at Chat ham and launched In 1824. There are only five ships left In the entire WO/Id older than HMS Unicorn. HMS Unicorn is the 3rd oldest ship afloat in the world. SCottand's only representative of the sailing navy and #SCottandsOldestShipl An incredible survivor she provides a unique insight Into ship building and design of the early 19th century. Built during the Industrial Revolution when wooden warships were beginning to give way to iron. marvel at the original timbers and unique features of this incredible ship. HMS Unicorn Is considered to be the best preserved of all historic wooden ships In the world from her era.


step back In time on the most authentic Georgian warship In existence and experience what life was really like for sailors In the 19th century! Only a 5 min walk from V&ADundeel


Group rates available. Coach parking available at nearby Greenmarkel. Tel:(01382) 200900 Email:

l' ;�,_,.! / -0-,!i". c,

Pl8ase note. du8 to HMS l.t1lcom ·, age llmltBd access h avollall/9 on some of 0<1 d8Cks lex lllos8 wlttl lmltBd moblllly. Weotne, Mess ond Otlop 08cks ore only oCC8S'lb/8 by o set/8S ofSl68P loc/d8r stairs.

open spaces of Perthshire and beyond, and every view encapsulates another iconic example of everything that Scotland has to offer. Even from the roads that bypass the town (and why would you want to) the views of Perth are breathtaking. The Friarton Bridge - the highest elevation over the River Tay is a brief thrill, especially with the morning sun on the islands and city below. Come and visit Glamis Castle the finest castle in Scotland Enjoy the history and spectacle ofGlamis Castle. Take a guided tour with one of their expert guides and soak up the atmosphere of a thousand years of history. Each room within the castle offers a glimpse into a different, more opulent time from the I 400s to the l 920s. Browse in the Gift Shop or just pop in for Lunch or Afternoon tea in the Victorian Kitchen Restaurant.

Take a stroll around the extensive grounds which features the gorgeous Italian Garden and Walled Garden both of which are lovingly maintained by the gardens team. Public opening times from 12 noon until 5:30pm with the last tour going at 4:30pm 9am until 11:45am: Exclusively for pre-booked coach parties, private parties, tour operators and groups.

Email or phone 01307 840393 to book

Free Entry for visitors who are visiting the Restaurant and Gift Shop only.

Towards the Trossachs and Loch Lomond National Park Swing west - on the A85 - past Hunringtower, with its


castle and boutique hotel, and twenty miles will bring you to Crieff. First stop should be the welcoming Visitor Centre. As a town, Crieff really has ramped up its welcome to guests. Cast aside any ideas of a leaflet-strewn tourist trinket stop, this is a full­ on welcome to an iconic Highland market town, complete with Caithness Glass manufacturing experience. Free parking, of course, and all ser in the beautiful Perthshire cow1tryside. Watch skilled crafi:speople ar work - be rhey blowing glass or blowing up a creamy froth on your cappuccino, to accompany a homemade meal in the ample restaurant (

Crieff Visitor Centre

Crief Visitor Centre is set in the heart of rhe Srrarhearn country­ side on rhe outskirrs of Crieff Ir is easily accessible from all direc­ tions and has extensive FREE parking. f

As the home of world-renowned Cairhness Glass, enjoy watching the skilled crafi:smen ar work, be­ fore spending rime in the Gifi: Shop, Garden Centre, Arr and Antique Areas. Also discover more about the history of the local area in their Highland Drover's Exhibition.

You will be sure of a warm wel­ come in their spacious, 180searer. family-friendly Restaurant.They use the best of local produce and the extensive menu offers great value for break­ fast, lunch or coffee and cake. They have also recently been awarded VisitScotland's Taste Our Best accreditation.

They welcome coach parries all­ year round, but if possible please book in advance to ensure a smooth speedy service for your guests. Call 01764 654065 to make a booking and discuss your

activities, and the charming main street all await, all alter a stop at the town's hidden attraction: the Glenrurret Distillery. A recent change of ownership means there may still be some signage directing you to "The Famous Grouse Experience", bur don't be concerned - all signs point you to rhe right location - rhe distillery which predates even the Jacobite Rebellion. So, whether you're a Highlander or a Hanoverian, chances are your forebears enjoyed a sip of malt, just as you

can, while surveying rhe secluded surroundings and enjoying a fascinating tour of Scotland's oldest distillery


Inverness and The Moray Firth

If Perth is rhe gateway, then Inverness is the capital. W hile rhe A9 road whisks you around


oPEN DAILY (10am - 5.30pm) ]0TH MARCH- ]lST OCTOBFR 2019 OPEN WEEKENDS ONLY ( 10am - 4pm) 2ND '.\10\'EI\IBER - 15TH DECEMBER 2019




groups requirements.

There's plenty more. The famous f Crief Hydro hotel and all its


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every pinch-point, rhe Highland Main Line railway rakes your group into the centre of every community. TI1e theatres, shops and salmon ladders of Pirlochry; rhe ourdoor and winter sports of Aviemore are rhe preserve of the railway. The Pass ofKilliecrankie and rhe upmarket shopping at House ofBruar are best reached by road.

Visit the remarkable Blair Castle - a whitewashed baronial clan headquarters, where the Duke of



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1 I� I" ·c


u .

-Atholl maintains a ceremonial company of soldiers - the only sanctioned private army in Europe. Don't expect a barracks. Blair Castle is more famous for homely dining, fabulous gardens, international horse trials, and beautiful peacocks that strut around the grounds, as if they were sergeants in the Duke's army (blair­

The beautifully long and winding road and rail trails both come together at Inverness, your group's destination. The bustling town, named after its river, is, in itself. gateway to the far north and west. Scotland always has something new to offer and, just when you think you've seen it all - you're out on the waters of theMoray Firth, surrounded by a pod of dolphins (

Further West and Skye Misty Island Adventure Boarding ac platform 9¾? Noc necessary. From che bay platform at Fort \X'illiam, you can join the Hogwarcs Express every day of the season. Alright, no wizards are in attendance. The real name of the train is the Jacobite, and it steams along the superbly scenic West Highland Line from Fort William (Scotland's self-proclaimed outdoor capital) to the fishing village ofMallaig. Yes, it does indeed cross Glenfinnan Viaduct ( Sail fromMallaig to make Skye the highlight of your West Highland adventure, just like an escaping Bonnie Prince Charlie. Unlike the

insurgent revolutionary (albeit an unsuccessful one) you may have time to grab some of the best and unquestionably freshest fish and chips in Scotland, before boarding your CaledonianMacBrayne vessel. Rail and sail details from Coaches do need to book in advance. As the sunlit side of the Cullin Hills come into view, your clan will be heading for the ferry pier at Armadale. Be careful with your satnav there's another Armadale in West Lothian - and it hasn't got a castle ... or a ferry terminal. So that could be disappointing for your group on the one hand, and very disappointing indeed for Captain Parra Handy on the other. Those navigational faux pas avoided, you'll be heading inshore for the castle, that modestly describes itself as one of south Skye's most popular attractions. Well, we'd struggle to name those chat are more so, not lease now chat Armadale Castle welcomes tour groups with extended season. Every day from April to October just about covers it for all groups, but you can now visit five days a week inMarch and November coo ( The castle ruin, historic gardens, and award-winningMuseum sit at che heart of a 20,000 acre estate chat was once pare of the traditional lands of Clan Donald. Just launched has been the new cafe-bar­ restaurant, Gasca at Arrnadale Castle. Based in the historic stables building, Gasca offers delicious breakfasts, lunches and teas during che daytime, and evening meals at weekends ( There's regular live music too. It could revolutionise dining on Skye. Perhaps best not to mention revolutions round here - it's only been cwo and half centuries after all. Much, much more long lived, are the legends arow1d Dunvegan Skye's fairy castle no less. The journey between Armadale and Dunvegan - by way of the Gaelic-speaking island capital of Porcree - is a beautiful excursion, which reveals the vast size of chis offshore Highland retreat.

A warm welcome awaits at Armadale Castle Group visitors can be assured of a warm Highland welcome at Armadale Castle, Gardens &Museum. Spectacularly positioned overlooking the


Beau Travel Magazine I Sound ofSleac, the Visit Scotland 5 star visitor attraction is a 'muse-see for a visit to Skye' (Trip Advisor). Formerly the ancestral seat of theMacdonalds ofSleac, the estate is now known as the 'spiritual home' ofClanDonald. The romantic ruins of the former castle are sec within 40 acres of stunning gardens, where visitors can enjoy wandering among exotic colourful planes and magnificent trees. The specially designed Museum of the Isles, included in the entrance ticket, provides a fascinating introduction co Highland history and culture with artefacts ranging from Jacobite memorabilia co a reconstructed emigrant ship. The castle's former stables building has been beautifully restored co house a welcoming cafe, Gasca at Armadale Castle. The Sleat Peninsular, where Armadale Castle is situated, is easily accessible via the Armadale Ferry or on a fast road from the Skye Bridge and Broadford. With its mild climate and abundance of trees the peninsular is known as the 'Garden ofSkye'.Don't miss this 'garden within a garden' - open March co November and a floral paradise waiting to be discovered.

Dunvegan Castle Any visit co the Isle ofSkye would not be complete wichouc savouring che wealth of history offered by Dwwegan Cascle and Gardens. Built on a rock in an idyllic lochside setting,Dwwegan is the oldest continuously inhabited cascle in Scocland. le has been the ancescral home of the Chiefs ofMacLeod for 800 years and is still home co che Clan Macleod Chief. There is plenty to do for all visitors, including: Castle Tours - rake a tour of chis historic cascle and see: The GrearSword ofDunvegan on display is one of only three survivingScottish medieval claymores. Portraits of theDunvegan Clan Chiefs and their wives, including"The RedMan" by Ramsay. The "Fairy Flag". Seal boat trips - you cannot gee closer co the protected common seals anywhere else onSkye. Fabulous shops with a wide range of Highlands and Islands gifts, jewellery and knitwear: Castle Shop Beautiful bespoke gifts inspired by the cascle collection. Gifi:shopincluding nature based children's coys, and many new lines under ÂŁ10, including delicious chocolates. St Kilda Shop (on theDwwegan Pier road) - Harris Tweed handbags, jackers and accessories, cashmere knitwear and quality locally crafted gifts, beautiful prints and paintings (by local artists). MacLeod Tables Cafe Excellent coffee and homemade soup and snacks at the Cafe, made using produce from che \Xlalled Garden. Beautiful Gardens and Walks, including l11e \Xlacer Garden with its ornate bridges, islands and

rich, colourful planting. The Round Garden featuring a Boxwood Parterre as its centrepiece. The W.1lled Garden (formerly the cascle's vegetable garden), features Roses, formal planting and herbaceous borders, the fountain in the lily pond and the Victorian style glasshouse. The Garden Musew11. Holiday Cottages If visitors would like co extend their stay, why nor book one of che holiday cottages? These are beautifully appointed traditional cottages. For further information on opening times and admission rates, please see website:

Aberdeen, Orkney and Shetland Islands The GraniteCity may be considered by most organisers as: "Somewhat north." To the sailors ofNorthlink Ferries, it's just the beginning. They provide a daily lifeline to the Orkney andShetland Islands -Scotland's true nortl1. For groups, the 12-hour plus voyages represent a domestic sea­ fairing adventure like no other. The rewards Flow, ScMagnusCatl1edral and the Up Helly Aa festival ( You don't gee a Viking passport for visiting Lerwick bur, then again, the Vikings were never coo fussy about visa arrangements. You'll also be closer co Bergen th,rn to Braemar, and famously a shorter flight to Oslo than co London. Brave the wintery waters of what really is tl1e Atlantic Ocean, and you'll have the chance to participate in Up Helly Aa - the fire festival that defines Shetland life, and puts flame the streets of Lerwick. On Orkney, the once pivotal naval stronghold ofSeapa Flow is just one of a cornucopia of sights and attractions. Northlink Ferries own website offers a good insight co the islands, and to Aberdeen (

The River Tweed, The Borders and The Lothians How remote are theScottish Borders?Surprisingly, within twenty minutes of the Edinburgh city boundary, you'll be simultaneously welcomed to the Borders and the tiny village ofCarlops. Pull in at the Allan Ramsay Hotel. Once the staging pose, where horses would be changed for the rugged drove south, it is today a place co pause for a break or longer. Take a look at tl1e lyrical views - you'll make it longer, and you'll understand why the heart and soul of this former weaving village is named for aScottish poet. An ideal day-stop (your group may find the four guest rooms just a little cosy) you're already in the Pentland hills, and the charming village of West Linton is only a few miles distant (

There's another side co the Borders, and possibly it's more famous for it coo. Hawick, Selkirk, Kelso, and Galashiels. There are fourScottish towns chat even manyScots would


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struggle to place on a map - or pronounce. Yet this quartet of Borders communities are all worth your while and, along with a whole list fo destinations, they make the Scottish Borders an undiscovered country for your group to explore. Some call it the Highlands in the Lowlands. Some may say they're right. The Borders Railway has opened up the region to groups, even those who don't rely on there own transport. The 35-mile line, from Edinburgh to just south of Galashiels, makes possible visits to that former textile town - soon to be home of the Great Tapestry of Scotland and perennial Britain in Bloom laureate. It's a short onward connection from the Tweedbank terminus to the beautiful town of Melrose (the abbey, gardens, home of the famous seven-a-side rugby tournament) and to Abbotsford, the splendid home of Sir Walter Scott, after whom the railway, which seeks to see extended back though Hawick to Carlisle, was historically named "The Waverley Route". On race days it's also possible to catch the special "Track 2 Track" coach, laid on by Kelso Races (} from Tweedbank to Kelso. The sixteen mile journey winds through beautiful, equestrian-friendly countryside, and passes a real jewel of tl1e Borders: Floors Castle (as in 'yours'). The idiosyncratic pronunciation duly mastered, Floors from the Terrace or the Courtyard cafes, offer lovely views, and a start for group guided tours. In a part of the country that's not short on baronial elegance, Floors stands out. Explore the collection of fine art, porcelain and restored tapestries. Leave time to wander the high street of Kelso itself, a charming example of the Border way of life ( Other Borders beauties include Mellerstain House just a

few miles from Kelso; Monreviot near Jedburgh (with it's ruined abbey); and Traquair House (} on the banks of the River Tweed near Peebles - a fine Victorian spa town renowned for its independent shops. July's Traquair Fair often attracts performers previewing Edinburgh Festival productions, ahead of the following month in the capital (}. Incidentally, racegoers heading north can use a similar shuttle service from Newcraighall and Mussleburgh stations to reach Musselburgh (Edinburgh) Races. If you can drag your party away from the myriad attractions in the capital, a day out in the "Honest Toun" of Mussleburgh is a delight. It's unlikely that The Lion King will come to Musselburgh's Brunton Theatre (though it's a pleasant stop for a coffee and more local productions). You'll have to head for Edinburgh's Playhouse for productions of that scale, and that's no hardship. The biggest working auditorium in the UK (over 3000 seacs) was originally built as a cinema, but has always been a mainstay of live performance. It's a Grade I treasure too, the highest listing in Scotland. Lion King is coming for a run from December this year. Visit Like great stone lions themselves, frozen in time, the Borders may be studded with tl1e ruins of the Reformation, but there's a nearby relic that's extant, and has become world famous. Largely thanks to the fiction of Dan Brown, Rosslyn Chapel (rosslynchapel.wm} has become one of Scotland's greatest treasures - and it's remarkably easy to reach. Edinburgh's Lotl1ian Buses run right into modern­ day Roslin, and it's a short walk from the terminus in the quaint little former mining village. Your group can also enjoy a ramble in the Country Park, or walk one of the old

l·loors Castk h,1s b(•en welcollling visitors for over 40 ve,1rs ,1nd one oi its lllain attractions is that it is still a iarnily home. This givC's thC' HousC' such liiC' ,111d charlll ,111d it SC'ts it ,1part irolll lllost historic house's. Built ior tlw I st Duk!:' oi Roxburglw in 1721, it has undngone pniodic change to cre,1te the dr,11llatic building vou sec today. I hope ,·ou enjoy vour visit and share the C'nnrlllous plC',1surc• we• dC'rivC' irolll Floors ,rnd its surroundings.

'Scollc1ncf:S lc1rgesl inhc1hilecl Cislfe'

Castle Tours• Walled Gardens• Milleniurn Parterre Free Entry for under 8's• Castle Quiz• Adventure P layground Children's Menu's• Gift Shops• Group Tours Castle Kitchen & Deli Shop• Terrace Cafe• Courtyard Cafe Dogs permitted (on leads)• Glasshouses Riverside & Woodland Walks Castle & Grounds - Open 28th April to 26th October 2017. Walled Garden & Terrace Cafe - Open daily all year round •Always check the website for updates, event news and Castle closures.

Floors Castle, Kelso, Scottish Borders, TDS 7SF 01573 223333


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railways a couple of miles, by way of the splendid Bilston Viaduct, to Loanhead and pick up your return bus service.

Julie Taymor's Unique Vision - an introduction to the inspiration behind Disney's THE LION KING

In December 2019 Disney's landmark musical returned to Edinburgh for a strictly limited season, giving groups an opportunity to experience the award-winning production in the Playhouse theatre. Brilliantly reimagined by acclaimed director Julie Taymor, Disney's beloved animated film has been transformed into a spectacular stage production that explodes with glorious costumes, masks and puppets, stunning effects and enchanting music. THE LION KING may seem like an obvious choice for a musical after 20 triumphant years on the London stage, but in fact, it was not always the case. The animated feature film had been released in 1994 and was a tremendous success. However, when the Walt Disney Company began adapting their film for the stage, they were faced with an enormous challenge: how could you portray a savannah full of animals, reptiles, fish, birds and insects - everything from an ant to an elephant? These impossible questions found one brilliant answer when Thomas Schumacher - Executive Producer of the film of THE LION KING and now President and Producer of the Disney Theatrical Group - remembered Julie Taymor, a unique theatre practitioner whose work he greatly admired.

Edinburgh - Festival City Edinburgh is at the centre of the Lothians - a mixture of administrative and ceremonial counties, whose boundaries have changed over the years. Visiting each has its own attractions. The shopping of Livingston (West Lothian); Edinburgh's festivals (since Edinburgh was, historically, part of Midlothian); modern-day Midlothian's Mining Museum; and Ease Lothian's self-defined 'Golf Coast'. Certainly, golf plays a big pare in East Lothian's attraction. It's even possible, from some of the windy links courses, co see Sc Andrews, in the distance. How appropriate that somewhere chat has made a home for golf should be able to view the Home of Golf across the waves. If the glimpse of the waves, that you catch from the train, encourages you to explore more, then the Berwickshire coast is for you ( The Scottish Borders' self-styled riviera lives up to the hype - if the hype of relaxing, away from it all, but just a few miles off the beaten track is what you're after.Just listing the locations is incentive enough for most groups, who care to pull on their walking boots. A Giacopazzi's ice cream to toast your visit to Eyemouth and Gunsgreen smuggling house; the sands and surf of Coldingham Bay; and the wildlife and lighthouse of St Abb's Head - chat's just for starters. W hether your journey begins in the Solway or at Sumburgh Head, Scotland, from it's debatable borderlands to its northerly Viking heritage offers your group an endless changing pallet upon which to paint a watercolour portrait of your own. In all the very best ways, the waters of Scotland are never calm, and always sec for change. Time for your group to set sail for the north once again.

Group rates for THE LION KING at the Edinburgh Playhouse range from ÂŁ20 to ÂŁ35 and are valid on Tuesday to Friday performances. Minimum group size is 10+. Book now for spring performances, email or call 0333 009 5388 (calls charged at local rate). Terms and conditions apply.

Dating from 1446, Rosslyn Chapel took over 40 years to complete. The beauty of its setting and the mysterious symbolism of its ornate stonework have inspired, intrigued and attracted visitors ever since.

Mon - Sat 09.30 - 17.00 (closes 18.00 June to August)

Just 7 miles south of Edinburgh city centre. Free parking on site. Good transport links from city centre.

Last admission is 30 minutes before closing

Sun 12.00 - 16.45 Rosslyn Chapel Chapel Loan Roslin Midlothian EH25 9PU

I Tel 01314402159

Rosslyn Chapel is managed by Rosslyn Chapel Trust, a charity registered in Scotland, number SC024324.


A group guide to

elcome Croeso

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Wales: the Land of the Little D ragons


ardiff and Swansea, and Wrexham and Llandudno. Snowdon mountains and the Brecon Beacons. The Prisoner at Portmerion and 1l1e Doctor in T iger Bay. Books at Hay and racing at Chepstow. Tom Jones, Shirley Bassey and male voice choirs. The Stereophonics gravelly tones, che Manic Street Preachers designed for life, and first-generation rockers will never forget the 68Guns of The Alarm. We almost asked Mike Peters to do a foreword, just to prove chat, if think you don't know Wales, think again. Croeso i Cymru. Your group might not be a multi-platinum album rock group, but Wales can still swing to your tune. Anyway, the most common pyrotechnics are not from the stage at Steelhouse Rock Festival in Ebbw Vale. They're from the dragons. Yes, it's Wales: Here really do be dragons. You'll see this fearsome creature on road signs, railway signs, in newspapers, on buses, in shops, on clothing, and on the flag of Wales - a bold red dragon prancing on the green fields with the white sky above. Spot it behind 29

the DJ in the famous video: "Utah Saints - Something Good '08". Eight million views is not to be sniffed at. Some people - usually other British people, not blessed with Welsh birthright - say the sky in the flag is white because it's raining. It's actually bleached white because the sunshine is so bright. Dragons are not the only fire breathing creatures in the mountains of Wales. There are others. Hot with red fire; hissing with noise; with steam and smoke from their breath. You can see them and hear them coming from far, far away. Their roar echoes around the valleys and the hillsides ... and children love them! These are the famous Great Little Trains of Wales - the only dragons with a collective website (greatlittletrainsof Fiery little steam engines that puff up and down the Welsh hills, pulling romantic little trains, from lovely little towns and villages, deep into the countryside, and high up into the mountains. These little railways were all built to help extract minerals from the mountains in the north. Iron, stone, and slate were

all found in great abundance, but they were often high up in the hills, or far away from the coast or a main railway. To get to market, the miners built railways to transport their raw materials. We could mention coal, but that's a whole different level of massive fire-breathing massiveness. Get your minors along to see the miners at The Big Pit National Coal Musuem at Blaenafon, for a fabulous insight into the fuel that fired Wales ( It's free, by the way. Big trains for the big pits, but small ones for those slate quarries and everything else. Those little trains have worked for nearly two hundred years, and are still working hard today. No longer hauling heavy mineral loads, they all carry passengers for pleasure. Your group can ride too. Most journeys are one or two hours, and visit lovely little villages and romantic countryside. Your whole journey completed with a little Welsh dragon pulling the train and breathing fire all day. If you're convinced to got to Wales, start practicing your Running Man right now. Your freshest moves, ever; floating on air, see. Those

eight million viewers can't be wrong.


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Contents North Wales Page 4 f-rom Chirk to Portmcrion. f-rom fam.c.tic hilltop n:doubrs ro idyllic SL-aside villages, North Wales is the principal part of the Principality, de­ signed for coasts :md castles. The tra­ ditional playgrow1ds for generations of hard-working northern families have retained their timeless cham1s, and added a spice or the twenty-first cenrury too, making them even more accessible. Great for: Castles; beaches and sand­ bars; great little tr.tins; islands; Snowdonia; ·the Marches, and sheep.

Mid Wales Page 14 Mountains, forest and lakes. There's plenty of nacural wonder in the region of W.1les chat could lay claim co che most indigenous part of the Principality. Valley passes and vantage points means there's one thing guaranteed in abundance ... castles. Great for: Castles. Yee more cas­ tles; ancient \Xlelsh capitals and redoubts; \Xlelsh culture; moun­ tain scenery; Hay-on-Wye liter­ ary festival, and castles.

South Wales Page 18 Gallop away the day. From horse racing co anything but hoarse singing. The silks of the jockeys at Chepscow co the silky sounds of a traditional Male Voice Choir - or maybe just All Saines per­ forming live at Chepscow Race­ course. If you chink South \Vales is all about forgotten mining cowns and implausible Dr Who locations, it's time co chink again. Great for: The cities Newport, Cardiffand Swansea, coal mining heritage; rugged coastlines; cathedrals; and even more castles. Images are courtsey of © Crown copyright 2018 (Visit Wales). Managing Director: Nigel Whiuaker Publishing Director: I lugh Cairns Production: J..:.1urn (.ollins Design:Alcxina \Thittakcr Beau Business Media Group Ltd Publishing House, \Vindrush, Ash Lane, Birmingham, B48 ITS Tel: 01214456%1





An arro1v in the rye or a genial burning at the stake. The traditional North Wales JJJe!come has changed over theyears. These days, the em phasis i s firmly on filli ng up your glass and your plate at a welter of friendly country pubs and restaurants, rather than burni ng your invading entrai ls while you still live. The cooking is somewhat more appetising these days. The flavours are as varied as the landscape. From Connah's Quay on the Dee to Snowdonia in the west, there are pretty country vi llages and an impressive array ofcastles and histori c houses to explore. The enigmatic house ofErddig ' ' and charming castle ofCh ick spring to mind. The more The energeti c know the North Mediterranean Wales Borderlands as unsurpassed walking country. sryledfol!J of Sir An almost unbroken beach Clough Williams­ from the Point ofAyr i n Ellis, isforever Flintshire to Great Ormes Head in Conwy, wi th the famous far the Denbighshire coast resorts of sixties series 'The Prestatyn and Rhyl neatly Prisoner". packaged i n bet ween. Open the cool box and hand out the ice creams now. Rhyl is every thing that's lively and exciting about the seaside. Prestat yn, a nearby neighbour, is also a great seaside destination, with the added delight ofmountain walking c ountry just inland. Rhyl is that t rad itional seaside resor t . The beaches at Pres tatyn are a designated area of Outstanding Nat ural Beauty. Hit the keyboard and check out for the complem ent i ng and contrasting attrac tions. 31


Going Underground Continue along the coastal ASS to Colwyn Bay, Llandudno and, by means of an impressive tunnel, to Comvy. Thi s world heritage site town, with i ts magnificent castle, harbour and hi storic bui ldings, is among Wales most vis it ed locations. Enough ofthat culture stuff though. Llandudno is the resort of choice. Board the Great Orme Tramway to see why. 1 S0,000 passengers every year ride i nto the country park and copper mines. Twice as many come for the ice cream. Make your first stop.

Portmerion - I am not a number Darting further to the west, whether in a com fortable coach or a breezy Lotus 7, you'll do little better than the nature reserves ofAnglesey and Holyhead. However, be dist racted by the chance to visit eni gmati c Portmer ion - a place you know so well already. Portmerion is every cult TV fan's favourite. The Mediterranean styled folly of Sir Clough Will iams-Ellis, is forever famous for the sixties series "The Pr isoner". Youngsters may puzzle over the connection, but those ofus with tl1e wisdom of years will

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be familiar with every doorstep, every statue, and every striped blazer on display. Your party, no matter what number they may be, can visit without the necessity of being kidnapped after resigning from a secretive government department. Be seeing you at

Wrexham lies right here too Back in the east, with Rover in hot pursuit, Wrexham has been steadily climbing up the league table of shopping destinations. New developments have not detracted from the charm of the older streets, arcades and markets. Mondays can be a whirl in Wrexham, with the largest market in orth Wales filling the town with traders and bargain hunters. Parking is available close to the town centre, so coach drop off is easy for all main attractions.

Connah's Quay and The Marches Scottish football commentators may have no idea where to find Connah's Quay, but the Nomads know where to find Scotland. 1l1e Welsh Premier League footballers gave their Scottish counterparts an almighty fright, when they came within an ace of lifting the 2019 Scottish Challenge Cup. For an 'in it to win it' attitude, there was certainly no doubting their resolve. Now, we're not saying a Nomads game is the only reason for visiting Connah's Quay, but you might be forgiven for thinking "industrial Flintshire", and hurrying onwards. Linger a moment though, to consider historic little St Mark's Church and the nature trails of Wepre Park . Some of your team might like to venture out on the River Dee with Quay River Tours, who speed off with up to 16 passengers accommodated over two boats, for a quick cruise under the bridges, or a longer voyage to Chester and back. The Quay Watermen's Association, who operate the tours, have been Heritage Lottery Funded to help interpret the history and heritage of the community. W hether it's bird-watchers, photography, history groups, or just your group, there's plenty to discover in tl1is


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often overlooked part of North Wales. So, linger for refreshments at the cafe in the Kathleen and May Heritage Centre. We recommend the homemade cake. The old stone dock makes a splendid photo stop to view the River Dee. W hile those salty dogs are away for a couple of hours, the rest of you might consider a stop at Northrop Hall Country House Hotel, for tea and country views. There are some other group favourites nearby too. Check outEwloe Castle ruins. It can be a bit muddy but maybe that's something to do with the nearby waterfall. Drier under foot are the tended blooms of ess Botanic Gardens, or the wind-swept expanse of Loggerheads Country Park.

All Aboard the Llangollen Railway Back to those dragons mentioned earlier. There are a whole squadron of delightful, narrow-gauge railways, dotted all over Wales. So named because their tracks are laid with their rails separated by significantly less than the 4 feet 81/2 inches (1435mm) reserved for 'standard , gauge ; as seen on your commute to work. Defined in Victorian times as the distance between the ankles and the neck of a standardsize Victorian damsel in distress. Coincidentally, 4fi: 8 l/2in is also the regulation width of the moustache upon the 33

demonic grin of the dastardly Victorian cad who tied her there in the first place. They are an endearing and iconic part of the Welsh landscape (the trains, that is). The railways' pit-pony sized puffers evoke the days of early industrial endeavour, exporting to market the natural resources of Wales, and importing wealth and prosperity for isolated communities. However, there is only one memory of the extensive 'standard gauge' network, that until tl1e middle of tl1e twentieth century, crisscrossed Wales, connecting those same isolated communities. There's still a network of modern train services (in the process of a radical modernisation as we write) but the Llangollen Railway is the only standard gauge heritage railway in orth Wales. Ten miles of Deeside delight, with the distressing of damsels strictly forbidden, no matter what dimensions of moustache your inner cad may wear. From the centre of Llangollen, not far south of Wrexham, trains depart from beside the historic fourteenth-century Dee Bridge, travelling through the verdant Dee Valley to the lovely town of Corwen, once known as the crossroads of North Wales, and also once the junction where trains converged for the journey all the way to Barmouth, taking many a holiday maker to the delights of the sands and the coast (

Snowdon - The Big Hill Turn back north again to the iconic peak of Wales. Snowdonia is much more than a mountain. This elevated shield encompasses mountain tops as far as the eye can see. No jokes please about that being "twenty feet 'cos of the rain." 1l1ere there are the coastal towns of Barmouth and Porthmadog, before a trip down the surprisingly sunny Llyn Peninsula, the Welsh Baha California. All this on the shores of Cardigan Bay. Then there's Comvy Valley and all the contrasts as the light changes from moment to moment. Conjure with the names that come to life right here: Harlech, Dinas Dinlle and Black Rock Sands. 200 miles of coastline isn't bad for an area named after a mountain (

Llanberis attractions Driving along the shores of Llyn Padarn and Llyn Beris, you cannot help but be impressed by the mountainous scenery all around, with Snowdon towering over them all. As your journey winds down in to Llanberis, you'll perhaps catch sight of ruined Dolbadarn Castle, its circular redoubt still extant, and another reminder of the fortressstudded history of Wales in


all its disputed glory. As you descend into Llanberis, you'll likely be making for the Royal Victoria Hotel, as much a local landmark as the mountains around ( The hotel was recently reroofed, using local slate from the Penrhyn, which is also the site of the National Slate Museum. As part of the National Museum Wales, you're guaranteed a hands-on experience, as craftsmen labour in the Victorian workshops built in the shadow ofElidir Mountain, site of the vast Dinorwig quarry - of which more in a moment. Try slate splitting - you know you want to (

Snowdon railway and a super hydro This is also the place to start your journey to the roof of Wales, right here in Llanberis. Often thought of as a modern phenomenon, or something peculiarly Swiss: mountain railways have been around in the UK since the end of the nineteenth century. The proof is on the summit of Snowdon, and it's been there since 1896. Well, it's been up and down a few times, obviously, but you get the idea. Put simply, Snowdon Mountain Railway has been described as one of the most unique and wonderful railway journeys in the world. 1l1e Swiss might argue that point, but, hey, apart from cuckoo clocks and cheese

Beau Travel Magazine with holes, what do they know? Visit For the highest of high teas, Snowdon Summit's visitor centre, Hafod Eryri, puts the kettle on for about half a million visitors each year. On a clear day, when the kettle isn't steaming up the windows, the views stretch as far as Ireland. They probably stretch as far as England too, but who cares. There's a diesel service every half hour, and a heritage steam service about three times a day. W hisper it - the steam locomotives were built ... in Switzerland. Also nearby is the famous Dinorwig Hydro Scheme. The stuff of every documentary about how the nation copes with spikes in demand - like the half time cuppa in the Cup Final, or just after EastEnders latest

scandalous revelation. If you're there when it happens, you're in for a thunderous treat. There are underground tours too, which are operating from temporary building in 2019, pending a swanky new visitor centre opening in ot enough excitement yet? Try any of the three nearby sites for Zip World. o, not the sort that run up the back of your dress or down the front of your jeans, the sort that is attached to a wire and sends you plummeting through the sky. Except, in this case, it's through the dark of a vast underground cavern, hollowed out by centuries of slate quarrying ( Something for all the family - and all the group and no underground

hurtling involved. We just had to mention a pet perambulation with a difference. It's nearby and the website says it all: "Come and meet our beautiful flock of prize winning sheep;' said a spokesperrrson.

Snowdon Mountain Railway Since 1896 visitors have been travelling to the village of Llanberis, to experience this unique rail journey to the Summit of Snowdon. From the first views of the waterfall plunging into the gorge below at the start of the journey, to the breathtaking sights over the sheer edge of Rocky Valley, every

moment is memorable. One of the world's greatest panoramas is revealed as the train reaches the Summit. Hafod Eryri, the UK's highest visitor centre has spectacular views to the valleys below, on a clear day the views can stretch as far as Ireland. Standing on the highest mountain in Wales and England, both young and old can embrace the invigorating atmosphere of Eryri - Land of the Eagles. Trains travel to the Summit daily from May to the end of October. During the early season (March and April), trains travel to Clogwyn ¾ distance up the mountain ( weather permitting). All Summit services last approximately 2.5 hours, which includes a 30 minute stop at the Summit. All Clogwyn services last approximately 2 hours which includes a 30

• An ideal way to relax and enjoy the beauty of N orth W ales • W ide range of return trips or one-way journey options Comfortable modern carriages Spectacular Scenery Train services operate through most of the year Light refreshments service available on every train Personalised on-train catering can be provided by request Please contact our experienced Group Travel staff for advice and further Information...

NEW: ICONIC 'GATEWAY' STATION FOR CAERNARFON Providing greatly enhanced facilities for all visitors - with cafe, gift shop. toilets etc. OPENING MARCH 2019 Harbour Station, Porthmadog, Gwynedd, LL49 9NF


@ 01766 5 16024 @

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minute stop at the unsheltered Clogwyn Station. Two services are available, the Heritage Steam Experience and Traditional Diesel Service.

Bethesda, is home to Velocity 2, the fastest zip line in the world. This historic slate quarry provides a stunning backdrop to the experience of a lifetime, while The Blondin Restaurant serves bistro-style, locally sourced food, to ensure adventurers are kept refuelled and ready for their next challenge. Europe's largest zip zone, T itan (with three exhilarating zip lines) is

Zip World W ith eleven adventures spread across three unique sites in North Wales, Zip World has something for everyone. Penrhyn �arry,


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located at Blaenau Ffestiniog. But that's not all. Underground, in amongst the relics of the quarry, is Bounce Below, an amazing net adventure suitable for all ages, and Caverns, a subterranean obstacle course with zip lines, via ferrata and rope bridges in an incredible



James Prin g I e \A, vveavers Llanlciirpwllqwynciyll . fJOfJerychwyrndro bwllllonty;rliogogoq oc h . . Holyhead Roncl. Isle of Ang Ie,ey LL6 l 5 UJ , Tel: 0 l 2 '18 7171 71 ox 012'18 713110 � Email )PV\Ange

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from a trapdoor high in the trees, and much more. An onsite cafe serves hot food, drinks & refreshments. Group discounts are available across all Zip World adventures.

ANEW-LOOK Snowdonia hotel has won a prestigious national prize for the quality of its food. The Victoria Hotel in Llanberis was awarded an AA Rosette just six months after completing a stunning ÂŁ1 million revamp. Led by head chef Aron Davies, the venue's Padarn Brasserie and Eryri Bar and Lounge were lauded for producing distinctive dishes using local ingredients, supporting farms and producers in north west Wales. The recent refurbishment included upgrades to all 104 bedrooms at the Gwynedd landmark, which employs up to 90 staff.


As well as using local ingredients in the restaurant, bosses were determined to incorporate Welsh granite and slate into the decor and fittings. "Supporting farmers and producers is vital, and it means we have the very best ingredients - there is a story behind every plate of food, and we are proud of that." Restaurant manager Dylan Eddy added: "We have more than 45,000 guests stay here every year, who come to enjoy the unique scenery, mountains and lakes of Snowdonia ational Park. "We are at the heart of that, and the dining experience gives them an authentic and fresh taste of those surroundings in a warm and friendly atmosphere. "W inning an AA Rosette is testament to that vision, and we could not be

happier to receive such an accolade." For more information and to visit the hotel take a look at the website: uk

Steam, Scenery, Snowdonia ... The chance to experience the beauty of Snowdonia from over 40 miles of scenic railway If you want to experience

quality time with your group in a timeless way, you don't need to travel to the ends of the Earth to experience one of the world's great railway journeys, there's not one, but two waiting for you in the heart of Snowdonia. The Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways stretch for 40 miles through the glorious Snowdonia National Park, allowing you to experience the magnificent scenery in comfort whilst savouring the romance of gleaming steam engines and carriages. Add in helpful and friendly staff and you get more than a hint of magic. A wide range of full or half-day journeys is on offer; kids go free; dogs and bikes are welcome, and all trains feature buffet service at your seat. For a small extra charge, you can even relax in the splendour of one of the sumptuous First Class Pullman carriages.


id ales

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Perhaps the least discovered but most diverse region of Wales indeed the 'Water World of Wales': A1id TVales hides all its gems 1vell. The mountains that divide Wales are also the landscape that defines Wales. From the Brecon Beacons into the Cambrian Mountains, and a thousand otl1er peaks. Offas Dyke seems such a meagre barrier when compared to the natural shield thrown up by the Mid Wales landscape. Enjoy too the verdant countryside around Llandovery, or stride out for the coast at Aberaeron, a good base for active groups seeking walking routes. There are even manmade enhancements. Look out for the imposing Craig Goch dam and reservoir, its waters filling the Elan Valley as the upper part of a mighty chain of


corner of the region, known as Waterfall Country (we think Captain Obvious came up with that one). The moorland of Fforest Fawr is divided by a collection of waterways - the Hepste, Nedd, Mellte, and the Pyrddin. Given the limestone bedrock, Landmarks they've cut deeply into the landscape and, if you follow the Wales is sometimes footpatl1s from the called the World village of Ystradfellte, Capital of Castles. you'll come across a There are certainly tumbling, rumbling, plenty castles to see, see, surprise - if you go and every one of them down to the woods has a long and exciting today, or pretty much history. Yet, given the landscape of Mid Wales, any day. Relaxing it is, and so is a there's something else visit and a stay at that it's famous for: Tynrhyd waterfalls. Most famed ( This for exemplifying this retreat is a high-end phenomenon is the lakes. earby, enjoy the little town ofRhayader, with its distinctive clock tower in the square. You can set your watch tl1ere, or read all about it, literally, at Hay-on-Wye Literary Festival. Words can hardly do justice to Mid Wales.

self-catering getaway for all sorts of groups. This holiday accommodation in Ceredigion is situated broadly between four Mid Wales centres, each ideal for exploring. Aberystwyth is the nearest and, along with Cardigan are coastal towns most likely to make a good day trip. They're both complete with castles of course. The latter's fortification is in rather better condition than the ruins of the former, though the interest is undiminished in either case. Then there's Lampeter, with its student vibe, and Carmartl1en, which is a little more laid back, are also within reach, both due south. Tynrhyd


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describes itself as conveniently located for the Brecon Beacons, Snowdonia and Cardigan Bay, We wouldn't argue with that, though you might choose to remain on site, so relaxing and inspiring are the surroundings. Some inconvenient mountains mean it may be necessary to make a detour via the coast and Aberystwyth, to reach Machynlleth which may be considered to be the border town between Mid Wales and the North. At one time, and that time being the beginning of the fifteenth century, this was the seat of the last independent Welsh Parliament. Might that make it the oldest unified government in the British Isles? It's possible. W hat's certain is that modern day Machynlleth still retains its idiosyncratic Welshness - with Celtic culture to the fore. Marry that with a for ward thinking Centre for Alternative Technology and you have an interesting visit for curious groups. 1he old town is full of curios - and shopkeepers who may have voted in that 1404 parliament. We wouldn't be surprised if some of them have six centuries of stock in their premises' labyrinth interiors.

Brecon Mountain Railway Although geographically part of Mid Wales, the Brecon Mountain Railway might be most easily approached from Merthyr Tydfil in the South. That's a topographical issue which hampered tl1e nineteenth-century development of it's big brother, the now mostly closed Brecon and Merthyr Tydfil Junction Railway, which laid a web of lines, all running down to ewport Docks. This picturesque line is a narrow-


gauge relaying of the most picturesque part of that network, high in the hills and tackling the steep gradients that so epitomised the original railway. The line runs from Pant, three miles north of Merthyr Tydfil, to Torpantau. The journey, by observation car behind a hard-working little steam loco, takes your group into the Brecon Beacons National Park, through Pontsticill and along the full length of the Taf Feehan Reservoir before climbing to Torpantau high in the hills. As we noted, the Brecon Mountain Railway has its soutl1ern terminus at Pant. By sheer co-incidence, you'll not find a branch of the Edinburgh Woolen Mill there. Nor will you find one in Cardigan for that matter. You will however find high-end and fine quality garments, many made with welsh sheep wool of the sort you may have taken for a walk at Sheep Walk Snowdonia, in around twenty locations up and down Wales. Luckily, there's a good branch in Brecon, so you can stock up for a bracing trip to me peaks of the Beacons ( Brecon, historically called Brecknock and the county town of defunct Brecknockshire, makes the most of its status as the home of the National Park. There's a visitor centre (the Brecon Beacons Mountain Centre) which is as informative about tl1e park as is the Brecknock Museum. W ith a cathedral, a regiment, a theatre and a jazz festival - tl1ere's bound to be at least one performance from a religious service, a military parade, a theatrical play or a funky jam going on, any time you take your party down to party down. Your bookish band will however be hot on the trail to Hay-on­ Wye. The little market town has plenty to attract a positive remark, 42

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but it is the literary festival that draws the headlines. The ten day extravaganza takes over the town in late May and early June. Some visiting Yank called Bill Clinton said it was the Woodstock of the Mind. The present incumbent of the Oval Office has yet to visit. Still, there are several establishments that specialise in pre-school literature among the town's twenty-odd book stores and second-hand shops. As if to emphasise the rural nature of the community, the shops have a half day on Tuesday. Never mind, they make up for that on Thursday - market day.

Are you looking for a group activity this year? The Vale of Rheidol Railway re-creates the Edwardian spirit of adventure. Step aboard one of our restored steam trains for 12 miles of some of the most breath-taking scenery in Mid Wales. Since opening in 1902, millions have enjoyed the scenic trip as you travel through wide open meadows, woodland and rugged mountain

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scenery. The narrow crack gauge allows the railway to follow the contours of the terrain with many sharp curves and steep gradients which add to the railway's charm. Listen to the sound of a powerful narrow gauge steam locomotive working hard to climb 700ft (200m) during the 12 miles from Aberystwyth to Devil's Bridge. Birds of prey such as Red Kite and Buzzards are regularly seen soaring high above the valley Aoor and breath taking views can be enjoyed by all. \Vhether it's a relaxing day out or a heart pumping trek around the amazing waterfalls in Devil's Bridge, the Vale of Rheidol Railway is a great place to visit. All trains will run from

the new Edwardian style Great Western Heritage Station constructed as part of the station's £1.6 million development project. Coach parking is free at their termini car parks with plenty of access and space. Begin your adventure by visiting the website details of current events and timetable or ring on O1970 625 819for group discount.

The Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway Heritage railways offer a unique activity for tour planners: a warm professional welcome to history, technology, scenery, comfort and movement. The Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway is a perfect example, and very accessible - the first Welsh railway you come to crossing the border from England, just 25 minutes from Shrewsbury. Carriages are also fully accessible, with ramps and lifi:s at both stations. The railway winds




er observation carriages behind a . TorJlantau, high in the Brecon ebrua� to the end of October and at _ ed tea,ooms, gift & souvenir shop, a , pianic areas, children's play area, s p and restoration, special ree ar and coach parking.

Brecon Mountain Railway, Pant Station, Merthyr Tydfil, CF48 2DD I Tel: 01685 722 988 I 43


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STEAM TRAINS & STUNNING SCENERY! Join us from our new Edwardian style Great Western heritage Station as we take you on an unforgettable journey up the Rheidol Valley to Devil's Bridge and it's famous waterfalls.

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ParkAvenue, Aberystwyth SY23 IPG Tel: 01970 625 819 or visit f t1


through green pastures and woods, past babbling brooks and over gentle Welsh hills. Enjoy comfortable seats in spacious windowed carriages (heated if the season requires); those seeking fresh air can also watch the lovely mid-Wales countryside go by from carriage end balconies. "The journey itself was very comfortable and everyone commented on the beautiful scenery that passed by our windows throughout the journey. One of the railway staff kept us well informed on the various landmarks en-route, the name of the lovely river alongside which the railway runs and a little of the history of the railway." Bill R, group organiser. Efficient logistics make it easy to fit into a travel plan: coach parking at

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Welshpool (SY21 7LT) and Llanfair Caereinion (SY21 OSF). Choose a single trip (drop off at one station, pick up at the other - about 1 hour) or a round trip (2.5 hours with homemade lunches or teas in the railway's Llanfair tearoom). Group discounts come with reserved carriages, or ask about hiring a special train. Driver/courier travel free. Call 01938 810441, email or go to


make your wishes come true!

• Regular Services During the Year • • Huge Discounts on Family & Group Rates •




• EIC\dekx:Kiv &WG1ctw·amerit1es • l:l:xjFnenJy

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South Populous South Wales. You could beforgivenfor thinking that everyone fives south


the fine

Brecons, and is squeezed into the narroJJJ strip bet7veen the Vafftys and the Bristol ChanneL.

It's not quite true. Though this may be the smallest part of the Principality of Wales, there's room enough for everyone, and room enough to enjoy the countryside and coastline, along with all the urban and urbane attractions that make a visit to South Wales both fascinating and rewarding. Dramatic coastlines. Dramatic valleys. Historic castles. Historic towns, and a sprinkling of rugby heritage for good measure. South Wales is ready for your group to discover.

All Saints at Chepstow Pull hard on the reins as you cross the Severn, or you'll gallop right past Chepstow Racecourse. Four fine fillies - also known as All Saints - are under starters orders for Ladies Evening on 12 July. W hen they're not putting on pop concerts, Chepstow is a lovely country setting, with the hills in the distance and the horses coming round the home straight. Best frocks not always required, but enjoy a group day out, whether you're all hooked up or not. Newport, just along the 45

M4, is definitely a place for architecture and industrial heritage buffs. The Art Deco Civic Centre and unique Transporter Bridge come readily to mind. However, if you want to see what life was like for miners in the Welsh coalfields, turn north, through Pontypool and head on until you reach Blaenavon Industrial Landscape. This isn't just an architecturally important area, this is an UNESCO World Heritage Site architecturally important area. This is where you'll find 1l1e Big Pit. A former coal mine, you'll get a real taste of what it meant to go down in the cage and prepare for a day's hard labour in the dark. A guided visit will let you see what it was like to work at the original coal face, almost 100 metres underground.

Black Gold at the Bay Coal mining is always associated with South Wales. Although the mines are now all closed, there is a long history of mining in The Valleys, and Cardiff was the focus for all that industry. There's even a redbrick building on the

Cardiff Waterfront which was once the World Coal Exchange. Such was the wealth of the South Wales coalfield, that this was at one time the most important financial centre in the world. In this building, which is now the luxury Exchange Hotel, traders signed the world's first one million pound deal, in 1902 - when a hard working wage was still in single figures - annually. From The Big Pit, It is about one hour back down the Valleys to Cardiff. About three hours by train from London, the modernday capital of Wales has seen a renaissance in recent years, and that's particularly evident in the former Tiger Bay area. o longer is it a post industrial wasteland, the Bay is probably the most recognisable part of modern Cardiff. Yet there is still plenty of history to see. Cardiff Castle is a fantastic piece of history in the city centre. Take a stroll through the public space of Bute Park to admire the size of the magnificent walls. Inside there is a fascinating story, telling over 2000 years of Welsh history. The castle is also a place for performances, including costume banquets,




medieval battles and live music and theatre. Those docks of Cardiffhave been regenerated and restored. The Waterfront is now a popular tourist attraction, and a leisure destination too. This is even where the Welsh ational Assembly sits as the devolved legislature. It's a striking building and groups can visit. If your group would rather vote for shops, it's a short trip to Mermaid Quay, or back to the Victorian arcades in the city centre. Will you spend as much as tl10se traders from 1902? Probably.

The Royal Mint Money Money Money You can bank on a short trip outside Cardiffto give your group value for money with a visit to The Royal Mint. It's one of the most popular visits in Wales. It's much more than just minting money - although that's quite popular of course. There's plenty of history, special coins and rare historical memorabilia. As with all good attractions, there's plenty of context to add colour to the story.

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Not many buildings have

1,100 years of history- and

this isn't one of them. The Royal Mint however, did move from the Tower of London out t0 Wales. Well, the rent's lower. You won't get a gong for visiting, but medals are something else that gets stamped here. ls a visit worth its weight in gold? Worth as much as that 1902 deal down in the docks? Definitely. See

Glamorgan­ Drawing a Vale over 1t Now, if you were wondering what that nice green bit is, between Cardiff and Swansea, wonder no more. It's the Vale of Glamorgan, and you'll be doing your group a favour if you absolutely don't draw a veil over it. Get away from the motorway routes and enjoy this coastal destination just west of Cardiff. Boasting the dramatic Glamorgan Heritage Coastline, the Wales Coast Path, and a whole handful of traditional Vicrorian seaside resorts, cliff tops, overlooking golden beaches, and remote coves. Remote because they're inaccessible at the bottom of cliffs, obviously. Still, the Glamorgan Heritage Coast is fourteen miles of unspoilt coastline and breathtaking scener y. Watch out for that famous tidal range, the dramatic limesrone Blue Lias Cliffs, and some pretty stunning seascapes ( 47

Barry For many, of a certain age, Barry, and Barry Island, means the place where all the steam engines went tO die. Long lines of rusting hulks doesn't sound much like a fun visit. Fortunately, the reality is somewhat more picturesque. Firstly, Barry is the largest administratively designated rown in South Wales and full of rich maritime hisrory, shopping centres, beautiful parks and the famous Barry Island resort which is what the offshore bit is really famous for. It's been around since 1870, and is certainly not a rusting hulk. So enjoy a bit of a thrill, before heading on t0 fashionable Cowbridge. It's sophisticated shops and food festival draw visitors from far and wide - none of them put off by the fact that it's the birthplace of Hannibal Lecter. Well, Sir Anthony Hopkins, who has played the serial killing cannibal. Minus the cannibal portraying acror, but plus a cracking heritage in stone buildings, Llantwit Major is a delightful maze of narrow streets, friendly cafes and local produce. Did we mention Penarth's pier? Well, if you haven't planned a trip across Cardiff Bay, it may be well worth considering, for a nostalgic visit to a food and shopping destination that brings back a memory or two.

to be above ground, tl1e scenery of South Wales is both spectacular and environmentally important. Much of Wales has been designated as either a ational Park (like Brecon and Snowdonia) or as an Area of Outstanding atural Beauty. From Cardiff, it is easy to take a trip to the Brecon Beacons National Park, the biggest single designated protected area in South Wales. This natural wonderland is very different from the city and the docks of Cardiff, and is very popular as a place to escape for the day or the weekend. If your group is out to see wildlife and the landscape, filled with weaving streams, water ways both natural and man­ made- then they'll not find disappointment. You can

learn much more about the countryfrom the website

Neath Least you hurry through the historically industrial town of Neath, spare a moment tO remember that this modest community gave us dozens of statesmen, sportsmen, and some of the biggest names in entertainment, including the dialling M for murder Ray Milland, the spy who came in from the cold Richard Burton, both departed; the very much totally with us and still totally eclipsing the heart, Bonnie Tyler; and dancing her way to the stars Catherine Jenkins. Add to all that plans for Afan Valley Adventure Resort, set to rise on a 325-


Bursting with colourful seaside fun, award winning beaches and full of maritime history

The An iconic destination attracting visitors since the 1870', Barry Island is stronger than ever with the appeal of its golden beaches, cafes and amusements enticing visitors back again and again. The recent multi million pound refurbishment hos transformed the seafront with the sweeping promenade reaching the entire length of picturesque Whitmore Boy beach against the backdrop of enticing cofes and restaurants, vibrant beach huts and attractions to keep everyone entertained. For enthusiastic walkers, the Wales Coast Poth follows the route through the Island toking in not one but three beaches and a visit to both the RNLI Visitor Centre, the Barry Tourist Railway and Barry War Museum is a must. The Island hosts events throughout the year which draws the crowds. among which the Isle of Fire, Cinema by the Seo, Transport and Food festivals ore now firm dates in the diary. Coach parking is available within very easy walking distance overlooking the beach.

Green Spaces If your group would prefer


So if you thought you knew Barry Island from days gone past, it's worth coming back. We know you'll foll in love with Barry Island all over again. Tel:01446 704867

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acre former forestry plantation. With 600 trail lodges, and a 100-room spa hotel, there should be room for your group. Expect all the expected forestry fun and adventme, and some more extreme activities overseen in design by some adrenaline-fuelled nutcase called Bear Grylls. It's in the early planning stages right now, so one to watch and remember where you heard it first(afanvalley

For all your Group Tour needs ... Tut lwd in the Wel.-.h h1lls1dt•, e,randmg protJd OVPr ow worlc'1 f.imou,; Gowt-r and Carmarthenshire coac;rlinP, the ,, star Stradey Park Hotel & Spa in South West Wales waits to welrnnw you into thl· fam1ly. The perfect accommodation and location for all group e><Lurs10ns.

Want to find out more? Order our Group Tours brochure today. contact the reservations team on...

Swansea It is about one hour from Cardiff to Swansea. Many visitors head straight for Swansea's Maritime �arter and visit the National Waterfront Museum (it's free). The Museum tells the story of the industrial revolution through the eyes of the


T: 01554 758171

people who lived and worked in Swansea at the time. There are working machinery exhibits, and cafes and gift shops overlooking the harbour. In short - it's a varied visit and there's plenty to do. It's a busy place, but there's plenty more where that

came from. There are many other museums to visit in the Maritime �arter. The �adrant Shopping Centre and Swansea Market are both nearby. So, if not heritage - there are the shops. Meanwhile, not far from the city centre, and you' ll be on the Gower

Peninsula. Hardly does it need an introduction. Winfred Vaughn Thomas and all that. Of the majestic ruins, Oystermouth Castle is probably the most famous. Then again, the most famous part of all is the seaside village called Mumbles.

"excellent day out - will remember this for a long time!"


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The village has a famous Pier, built in 1898 and still run as a family business. It even once had its own railway. It's still a popular tourist attraction today.

Llanelli Skipping past Swansea and the Gower and the M4 will bring you to Llanelli, six times host of the Welsh National Eisteddfod. The what? The competitive celebration of everything culturally indigenous to Wales, that's what. Like the Mod in Scotland, but without the Gaelic, obviously. By the way, after this August's Eisteddfod in Llanrwst, which is within sight of Conwy Castle, it is on, next year, to Tregaron, a village deep in the beautiful Mid-Wales hill country. Meanwhile, back in Llanelli - or


Tinopolus as it once was called in reminiscence of its industrial heritage - there's an important game going on. Llanelli is forever a rugby town. Home of the Pro 14 Scarlets, and the eponymous Welsh Premiership team, it's a hive of rivalry on match days. Llanelli could lay claim to the spiritual; home of Welsh rugby, but that's only a tide that every other hamlet, village, town and city in Wales would wish to lay claim. Then again Llanelli is also the place to go for the Old Castle Works leisure village and a dozen other unexpected charms, from churches to coastal paths. The national hunt racecourse at Ffos Las is nearby and, if you venture a little further, there's a horticultural treasure awaiting that's never been galloped upon. Twenty miles north from Llanelli


you'll find Aberglasney, a delight of gardens and partly ruined mansion house { Made famous by the BBC television series "A Garden Lost in Time", which followed its restoration, Aberglasney offers the opportunity to explore ten acres of top grade gardens and the restored ground floor of grade two Aberglasney Mansion. There's tea too, overlooking the Pool Garden. You'll wonder why you've not been here before. You'll wonder why you didn't decide to stay. So you could consider staying at the Stradey Park Hotel in Llanelli { On a hillside location, the view is locally renowned, and the spa is a special treat. It's a nice four-star experience for your group too.

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Spectacularly located in Carmarthenshire's Tywi Valley - one of \'?ales' finest Gardens. Groups welcome 364 days of the year Group rates apply for just IO people, further discount for groups of 45+ Day time and exclusive evening tours of the Gardens available with I lead Gardener Joseph 1\tkin Excellent Tearooms & large free coach park Tour guides and coach drivers receive free entry and a £10 meal voucher i\berglasney Gardens, Llangathen, Carmarthenshire. Si\32 8QI L

Pembrokeshire We've covered Wales from top to toe and, with one destination to go, it's a case of saving the best uncU lase. W ith the famous Welsh coastal path at its best in Pembrokeshire, you could be forgiven for missing a few of the ocher inland delights of the county. Try your best to make time through, you' ll be well rewarded. Often overlooked is historic Haverfordwesc, a classic little market town with two ruined castles. 1l1ac's quite a lot of castles, even for Wales. On the coast, there's Tenby, with its medieval walls and elegant seaside properties. If you do make it all the way to Pembrokeshire - and you should - tl1en make it to Sc David's. It may be Britain's smallest designated city by population, but its importance co Wales is as big as it gees. Seep into the most important cathedral in Wales. In the city that's named for the Principality's patron saint, it's no

01558 668998

wonder then, when you look up from the nave of the impressive Gothic building, chat more than one visitor is moved to say: "Croeso i Cymru." You may well be among chem.

A warm Welsh welcome awaits you Tucked in the Welsh hillside, standing proud over their world famous Gower and Carmarthenshire coastline, the 4* Scradey Park Hotel & Spa in Llanelli is the perfect base for exploring all Wales has to offer. Scradey Park Hotel & Spa, Llanelli

offers guests parking and free parking for coaches, complimentary W iFi in public areas and guests bedrooms. The hotel is accessible throughout for wheelchair users. Enjoy a relaxing drink in their secluded Rooftop Lounge with amazing views of the coast before dinning in their Copperplate Bar & grill. Their wellbeing spa has everything you need to treat yourself, enjoy some time in their award winning spa, relax in their indoor and outdoor hoc cub or choose a treatment using their own organic Welsh produces They look forward to seeing you


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