On the journey with the train line between the English city of Shrewsbury and the port metropolis of Swansea you will discover the most beautiful places of Wales.
Wales is a small country west of England in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. It has approximately the size of the German federal state of Hesse. The route of the Heart of Wales Line is barely 146 kilometres long. However, the trip can take up to four hours. No wonder: the train stops at up to 34 stations if necessary and upon demand.
The journey starts at the English city of Shrewsbury. This city is located approximately 14 kilometres east of the Welch border. Because of its great connection to the road and railway network the city is also called "the gate to Wales". Shortly after the departure, the train reaches the English locality of Craven Arms. The train station there used to be the original departure and destination of the single-track line which was built between 1861 an 1868. Today, it is worth stopping there above all for visiting the Shropshire Hills Discovery Centre, one of the most popular natural parks of England.
A short while later, the train crosses the Welch border at Knighton. The first stop after Knighton is the village of Knucklas with its magnificent viaduct. Across the hilly landscape of the county of Powys, the route leads to the villages of Llangynllo, Llanbister Road, Dolau, Pen-y-bont and reaches Llandrindod Wells. Already the Romans used the hot springs of the present-day spa.
The next scheduled stop is at Llanwrtyd Wells. Today, the former spa is particularly popular among mountain bikers and hikers. Two exceptional competitions have made Llanwrtyd Wells world famous. In the so-called "Bogsnorkelling" world championship the competitors must snorkel through a 55 metres long swamp ditch as fast as possible. During the "Man versus Horse Marathon", runners compete against horsemen.
The next highlight of the journey is the impressive Cynghordy viaduct, before the train arrives at the paradise of all balloonists. A big balloon festival takes place in the picturesque city of Llandovery every year. Within just 20 minutes, the train arrives at Llandeilo. On the one hand, the place is popular for its century-old buildings and the adjoining Brecon Beacons National Park with its high mountains. The place achieved unfortunate notoriety when in 1987 a train fell from the Glanrhyd bridge into the river Towy.
The route leads from Ammanford across the former mining region of Wales towards the costal town of Llanelli, the second starting point of the original Heart of Wales route. Today, Llanelli is a popular holiday destination. The Millennium Coastal Park with its 20 kilometres-long coast offers enough space for recreation and water sports.
The port city of Swansea is the destination of the journey. Upon getting off the train, interesting museums like the National Waterfront Museum await you. However, the second biggest city of Wales offers even more attractions worth seeing.
You may have already wondered about the many strange town names. They are not of English but of Welsh origin. The Welsh language is part of the Britannic subgroup of Celtic languages. In Wales this language is spoken by 750,000 people. Alongside the English language, it is also the official and school language. There are two main dialects, one in the North and one in the South.