Wales by train: A stunning journey from South to North aboard The Gerald of Wales

I’ll be honest, When I think about travelling through Wales, the two words that wouldn’t immediately spring to mind are ‘public’ and ‘transport’. Wales is full of windy roads, lakes, rolling hills and scenic mountains, surely getting from South to North via public transport would be a nightmare of epic proportions? The good people at Traveline Cymru assure me that this is not the case, you can, in fact, travel from Cardiff to Holyhead, in style aboard the ‘Gerald of Wales’ train, with Arriva Train Wales.

Ok Arriva, you have my attention. Gerald, by all accounts, is no ordinary train, he runs the length of Wales, making the occasional crossing into England and comes complete with an onboard chef, serving up three-course meals and cooked breakfasts. One of only two services in the UK that offer this service.

Wales by train: A stunning journey from South to North aboard 'The Gerald of Wales'I was lucky enough to experience travelling on Gerald aboard the ‘flagship Business Class’ service from Cardiff to Bangor, which at a journey time of under 4 hours, is half an hour faster than other standard services operating on the same route. Gerald has four coaches, three for standard-class ones and a fourth coach for business class passengers, who receive a complimentary meal, that is cooked to order by the travelling chef.

After my initial delight at the prospect of posh train travel, panic set in, what on earth will I wear in business class? Will it be full of actual adults with their briefcases and important job titles, good god what if one of them speaks to me? After having a wine and a little calm down I decided that the best course of action would be to dress ‘smart casual’ and to copy whatever the grownups were doing on board.

As I boarded at Cardiff, I was warmly greeted by staff and seated in a comfy window seat complete with a table and power socket. Ever the professional, I took out my laptop, notepad and camera ready to be a proper travel blogger, I was going to take comprehensive notes, I was going to ask thoughtful questions, I was…. ’Excuse me, would you like to see our wine list?’ asked a lovely smiling lady. It never ceases to amaze me how quickly all my good intentions go out the window at the mere mention of the word ‘wine’.

Wales by train: A stunning journey from South to North aboard 'The Gerald of Wales'Predictably, I ordered a glass of white, the Pier 42, Pinot Grigio, and started dreamily out of the window, watching the lovely scenery whiz by. The ever attentive staff were soon back enquiring what I would like to order from the menu. Each business class ticket holder receives a complimentary, cooked to order meal, that changes on a five-week cycle and features locally sourced produce. There is a hot breakfast on the morning service and a three-course meal on the north bound service in the evening, which is what I was travelling on.

Wales by train: A stunning journey from South to North aboard 'The Gerald of Wales'I decided to order Chicken liver parfait with cracked pepper butter and caramelised red onion toast, Chicken and mushroom pot pie and Chocolate fudge cake with cream, with a cheeky little glass of rose wine as well, it would be rude not to right?

Wales by train: A stunning journey from South to North aboard 'The Gerald of Wales'

I was curious as to the quality of food that is cooked aboard a train, I had no frame of reference. I was really surprised at how tasty the food was, not to mention the portion sizes. The chicken pot pie was the size of my head!

Wales by train: A stunning journey from South to North aboard 'The Gerald of Wales'

After only managing around two-thirds of the gigantic pot pie, I was presented with a large slab of chocolate cake, warm and oozing with chocolate loveliness, how on earth was I supposed to fit this in? Like most ladies though, I am always game for a chocolate based challenge.

Wales by train: A stunning journey from South to North aboard 'The Gerald of Wales'

Full of food and wine, I sat back and watched the ever changing landscape as we passed through rolling hills, farmlands and the various towns of Abergavenny, Hereford, Shrewsbury and Wrexham.

Wales by train: A stunning journey from South to North aboard 'The Gerald of Wales'

You forget just how beautiful Wales is when you travel a lot. As a travel blogger, you become accustomed to beautiful scenery and it’s all too easy to forget the captivating landscapes back home. Best have another small wine for all this introspection and new found love of the homelands.

Wales by train: A stunning journey from South to North aboard 'The Gerald of Wales'

The sun was starting to slowly sink into the horizon as we rolled through the pretty seaside towns of Rhyl, Colwyn Bay and Llandudno Junction. Here’s where the window view became even more glorious, as we were treated to stunning sunset as the train rolled past the sea.

Wales by train: A stunning journey from South to North aboard 'The Gerald of Wales' It’s these kinds of picture perfect scenes that make train travel through Wales a worthwhile option. It would perhaps be all too easy to miss whilst driving, train travel allows for appreciation, for reflection and most importantly, for Instagrams.

Wales by train: A stunning journey from South to North aboard 'The Gerald of Wales' Before I knew it I was in Bangor, it felt as if the last few hours had flown by, with the help of lovely scenery and one or two, perhaps three wines. I was only going to be in North Wales for a few days with family, scoping out the area for a future article on adventure travel in North Wales. As I am without a car, I am relying on the Traveline Cymru’s journey planner to navigate public transport whilst I am in the area.

Wales by train: A stunning journey from South to North aboard 'The Gerald of Wales'

Two days later and I am back at Bangor train station ready for the rail journey home. Bangor is a rather sweet, almost retro looking, train station, with a little cafe and newsagents selling coffee in polystyrene cups, it filled me with a sense of nostalgia for childhood trips to the seaside by train.

Wales by train: A stunning journey from South to North aboard 'The Gerald of Wales'

It’s honestly not often that I can claim to enjoy long journeys, but this particular route has been so delightful that it has sparked an interest in train travel. Ok, so clearly not all UK rail routes are going to be quite so impressive, but I am now quite inspired to seek out interesting rail routes, preferably ones with sauvignon blanc on board.

Wales by train: A stunning journey from South to North aboard 'The Gerald of Wales'

More information about this service, including pricing, upgrades and timetables, visit https://www.arrivatrainswales.co.uk/BusinessClass/ or ask at any train station ticket office. Fares typically range from £10 to £80 depending on the route. Cooked to order meals are complimentary for first class ticket holders. Standard class ticket holders, however, can pay extra to upgrade to the first-class ticket, see Arriva’s website for details or ask on board.

My train journey was complimentary, but all views, as always, are my own.

Wales by train: A stunning journey from South to North aboard 'The Gerald of Wales'

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38 Comments

  1. September 12, 2017 / 2:56 pm

    Wow looks beautiful! I have just got back from South West Wales and was so surprised at how beautiful it was – it also helped that the weather was gorgeous.

    Beautiful images!!

    Holly x
    http://www.ldnmuse.com

  2. September 8, 2017 / 3:48 am

    Good to know about this option and looks like you had a lovely time at the train. How much price difference from economy to business class? Is food free on business? Thanks

    • September 9, 2017 / 7:11 pm

      Prices vary on dependent on what route you purchase, business/first class ticket holders are entitled to a complimentary meal xxx

  3. September 7, 2017 / 7:56 pm

    Such a luxurious journey by train with super amazing views, lip smacking food on your table and a glass of wine.. what else heaven looks like? I would love to experience this some day. Saving the post for future reference!! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    • September 9, 2017 / 7:12 pm

      It was amazing food! xxx

  4. September 7, 2017 / 4:43 pm

    I feel like the UK is underestimated many times if it comes to beautiful views – the countryside here (I’m based in London) is STUNNING. I also love travelling by train such a shame that it is quite expensive. I love the little treats you got on board (yay to 1st class trains) – the dinner looks yummy and the wine well we dont need more when we holidyaing, do we?

    • September 9, 2017 / 7:12 pm

      Definitely worth the upgrade! xxx

  5. September 7, 2017 / 11:08 am

    What an amazing way to enjoy your food with those beautiful scenic views. Not to forget, that business class looks amazingly comfortable. Love all the pictures you clicked 🙂

  6. September 6, 2017 / 9:49 pm

    Ok well this surprised me haha. For one, I wouldn’t have ever thought about traveling through wales by train either. and secondly where I live in the East Midlands Arriva are our local buses; these train look phenomenal compared to the buses here haha. However reading through this post, you have raised my curiosity, I might just have to try this too 😀

  7. September 6, 2017 / 3:34 pm

    How stunning and it looks like a wonderful way to travel through the country. Thanks for sharing this and the food looks good too. I love your profile about being an “aspiring Khaleesi” btw!

  8. September 6, 2017 / 2:58 pm

    It definitely makes a train ride more enjoyable when there’s amazing views of the countryside. The food looked delish! I’ve never considered catching a train through Wales, as have always driven. But with the 3 course cooked evening meal and breakfast …you’ve sold me! 🙂

  9. September 6, 2017 / 2:09 pm

    This post came a good timing, I’ve been doing a fair bit train travel around Indonesia over the past couple of weeks. I had no idea there was a train running the length of Wales though – looks comfortable too!

  10. September 6, 2017 / 11:25 am

    I have lived in the UK for almost 7 years and never done this! Thanks for the tips, I would have never thought of train travel for Wales!

  11. September 6, 2017 / 10:46 am

    Stunning photos! So jealous of your train journey, it looks so luxurious:) Especially the chef-cooked meal looks delicious:D I’ve never been in business class on a train before, I might have to experience that at some point in my life:) Thanks for sharing, Wales looks lovely!

  12. September 6, 2017 / 10:22 am

    This looks amazing! Great post lovely, that food is impressive! Xx

    • September 6, 2017 / 10:24 am

      Thank you, it was a lovely journey x

  13. September 6, 2017 / 1:44 am

    I love your thorough evaluation of the entire train experience! Your photos are so amazingly beautiful it makes me want to travel that entire distance by train and replicate your trip!

    • September 6, 2017 / 10:28 am

      Thank you, I really recommend it xx

  14. September 5, 2017 / 9:55 pm

    OMG..i love all the pictures in your blog..may i please ask what camera do you use?

    • September 6, 2017 / 10:32 am

      Thank you, I use a Canon 750d xxx

  15. September 5, 2017 / 9:14 pm

    what a beautiful way to see Wales, I hear it is beautiful there, so I’d love to visit!

    • September 6, 2017 / 10:32 am

      You should totally come visit, it is a stunning country! xx

  16. September 5, 2017 / 8:34 pm

    Your photos are absolutely incredible for this post! Another wonderfully written post lovely

    I’ve never been to North Wales and this is something I need to change very soon

    • September 6, 2017 / 10:33 am

      Awww thanks so much, It is such a lovely place North ales, i am heading there next year to do a big piece on adventure travel there, so will keep you posted xxx

  17. September 5, 2017 / 7:51 pm

    Wow! I have never been on a train like this before. Looks really comfortable and accommodating. This is probably because most of the trains in the US are pretty terrible…..!

  18. Christine
    September 5, 2017 / 4:18 pm

    I have always had great experiences traveling by rail in Europe, but this tops any of them! Looks like a great train ride. The wine and food are impressive.

    • September 5, 2017 / 4:51 pm

      I love travelling by train in Europe, but was never really a fan of it here until I took this trip. I still can’t get over how amazing the views were! xx

    • September 6, 2017 / 10:34 am

      Love train travel in Europe, it’s my favourite way to get around! xx

  19. September 5, 2017 / 3:08 pm

    That is a very cool Train Journey. Thanks for sharing. The views from the train are so bliss especially the sunset one. The Chocolate cake looks yumm !

  20. September 5, 2017 / 3:05 pm

    Amazing train journey. Full of wine and cake. Looks delicious

  21. September 5, 2017 / 10:01 am

    Gosh I had no idea Arriva trains did a nice train like this. Like you the words public and transport to get on a long journey around Wales would’ve made me run a mile. The food looks amazing. What a treat x

    • September 5, 2017 / 10:04 am

      Honestly, it was one of the best train experiences I have ever had, lovely food and lovely staff. I really recommend it.

  22. September 4, 2017 / 9:04 pm

    I’m really impressed, I never realised Arriva had a train like this. That cake! 😮

    • September 5, 2017 / 10:04 am

      The cake was soooo good!!!

  23. Grazia
    September 4, 2017 / 7:30 pm

    Your post was really interesting. I would like to have an experience like this one. Great pics

    • September 4, 2017 / 7:31 pm

      Thank you, it really was a fabulous experience! xx

  24. Susan Nicholson
    September 3, 2017 / 4:55 pm

    Absolutely brilliant review and photos are amazing !!

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