Start your tour in Blaenavon where your clients can experience Wales' mining heritage at Big Pit National Coal Museum. This award-winning interactive museum is set in the Blaenavon Industrial Landscape and designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Your clients can visit the mining galleries, exhibitions in the Pithead Baths, the colliery buildings and take the underground tour led by an ex-miner to discover what it was like to work at the coal face. The underground tour takes approximately one hour.
Admission is free, although there is a small charge for a time slot for the underground tour on weekends and school holidays. Groups of 10 or more must book in advance for the underground tour. There is a canteen, seasonal coffee shop and a gift shop. The museum and underground tour are accessible to wheelchair users.
Lunch can be at Big Pit National Coal Museum or you can include a visit to the market town of Abergavenny, home to the famous Abergavenny Food Festival that takes place in September each year. There are lots of independent shops and lunch options. The Abergavenny Market Hall holds markets and fairs most days including the general market and flea market. Abergavenny Museum and Castle is set within the grounds of a ruinous Norman Castle. Displays depict the history of this fascinating town. Admission is free. Coach parking is available in the bus station. There is also an option to visit St Mary's Priory Church and Tithe Barn which is just next door to the bus station. Groups are split into two groups, one to visit the Priory, the other to view the Tudor exhibition in the Tithe Barn. Both groups would then carousel, followed by an optional welcome Fairtrade Tea, Coffee & Cake.
Just 10 miles (16 km) from Abergavenny is the medieval Raglan Castle, known as the grandest castle ever built by Welshmen. It is still formidable, there’s The Great Tower which is surrounded by a moat, two other impressive towers and the newly-restored undercroft, with great views of the countryside. There is a gift shop and coach parking. Travel Trade rates are available via Cadw’s Tour Operator Scheme.
If you are looking to include a garden in your tour, an alternative option is to include Llanover Garden. The grade II listed 18th century gardens are set within the Usk Valley, beneath the Black Mountains and features a walled round garden, two arboreta and extensive lawns.
Group visits include a welcome from owner Elizabeth Murray who leads a personalised tour. Unaccompanied tours are also welcome. Tea, coffee and home-made cakes are served in the garden or indoors if weather is poor. Multilingual tours are possible if booked in advance, at an additional charge. The group organiser and coach driver have free entry. There is coach drop off near the main gate and coach parking on-site.
There are two pull in bus stops near the main entrance, at the top of the drive, where visitors can safely disembark. Coach visitors are met here. The main gates are wide enough for a typical 29 seater coach, as well as minibuses to drive through. These vehicles can continue up the tarmac drive to the house, where there is space to turn around and park.
Private pre-arranged tours for groups of 15 to 45 can be arranged between late March and October.