You may remember that in posts in the recent past I have mentioned the 'Heart of Wales Line' which is the railway that runs through our town, Knighton, and that we have twice travelled to Shrewsbury on it. We decided that it was time to visit the other end of the line which is Swansea. The trip north to Shrewsbury takes less than an hour which makes a day trip feasible but the trip to Swansea takes more than three hours so we made a three night trip of it.
We took one case, with wheels, to keep luggage to a minimum and Amanda, my wife, and I set off one sunny morning and trundled down to the station to catch the 11:01 AM train to Swansea. We made sure that we were in plenty of time as there is a train only every four hours so if we missed it we'd have a long wait. This is the train in our little station and, yes, that's all of it; one whole carriage. Well there is only two of us.
There were plenty of seats and we were very quickly settled. There turned out to be no refreshments available but we had come prepared with a paper bag full of lunch and one can of fizzy drink. The doors shut and we were off! Some of the stations on this line are request stops and if you are waiting on such a station you have to hold your hand out for the train to stop and if you want to get off at one of those then you should tell the ticket man and he will make sure that the driver knows to stop.
After five stations we stopped at Llandrindod Wells and sat there for twenty minutes. This was not unexpected as it is a single line all the way except in some stations, like this one, where trains can pass and we were waiting for the train coming the other way. When it arrived we continued on. This line runs through very picturesque countryside which is, of course, covered in the inevitable sheep. After travelling for around two hours we had our packed lunch and we eventually arrived in Swansea at around 2:30 PM.
We set off down High Street (trundle, trundle) passing through Castle Square on the way which, amazingly, contains the remains of a Norman castle.
There isn't a lot of it left and one cannot go inside but it is a real medieval castle and I rather like the contrast between the old and the new. We continued on (trundle, trundle) and soon arrived at our hotel – Morgan's.
A rather nice Victorian building which used to house the Port Authority but which has now been converted to an hotel. Our room was on the first floor and there is a lift for those who cannot manage stairs. The room doors have electronic locks operated using a credit card sized card, there is air conditioning in the rooms for those who want it and the rooms have good sized en-suite bathrooms.
They do have an odd eating arrangement here. Dinner, in the dining room, is served only Thursday to Saturday and on other days food is available in the bar. It is, however, a very nice bar and the food really is excellent with a reasonable number of options on the menu. We settled ourselves into our room and then went out for a look round. One has to bear in mind that the Germans flattened Swansea during the last war so there are few old buildings but we didn't see any new buildings which we disliked and, overall, Swansea has a nice atmosphere.
It was a short walk to the Marina where we found the Waterfront Museum but didn't go in as we were saving that for the day we were leaving. The museum is the building on the immediate left which incorporates a small cafe with people sitting outside at tables although there are also tables inside.. The red brick building with the small tower is an old Victorian water pumping station which has now been converted to a pub.
Looking in the opposite direction we can see boats in the marina and, in particular, two old vessels. The nearest is 'Canning', an old steam operated tug, and the further of the two is 'Helwick', an old lightship, both of which are no longer in service and have been kept as museum pieces.
Swansea is on the coast and the sea can be found a short walk south across the marina. It is on a bay called Swansea Bay, no surprises there, and there are long stretches of beach composed of fine sand, suitable for children, which run round the bay as far as Mumbles.
We were both getting a bit tired now so it was back to the hotel to prepare for an evening meal. So far we have liked what we've seen and tomorrow is another day.