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Wales, a Principality within Britain

The Data Wales website is a privately funded, independent service based in south Wales. The mission is to provide a useful resource for those members of the Web community with an interest in Wales and its history. We carry notes aimed at helping first-time visitors to Wales and some facts and figures about Wales. Our maps of Wales are not as detailed as we'd like but should download quickly. If you check our index page you'll find notes on many aspects of Welsh history and culture.

Wales is easily accessible from London's Heathrow and Gatwick airports but Cardiff, the capital city, has its own airport. Travellers from Europe may well find this more convenient. If you have a choice of London airports, pick Heathrow since this is nearer to Wales. 

If you are heading for North Wales from London you could take the tube (underground train), a bus or a taxi to London Euston railway station. The tube will be cheap and easy - pick up, or ask for, a free tube map. Trains leave for Holyhead hourly. There is normally a change at Crewe and the train gets to Prestatyn in 3 hours. Holyhead takes just over 4 hours. The nearest airport for North Wales is at Manchester; this is just a 90 minute drive from Holyhead. 

From both Heathrow and Gatwick there is a regular bus service to South Wales (via Newport and Cardiff). You can check schedules and book a ticket at www.nationalexpress.co.uk or call (UK) 0990 808080. Heathrow passengers can also take a bus to Reading British Rail Station and pick up a train for South Wales. Gatwick passengers can take the Gatwick Express train into London Victoria rail station. An underground (tube) journey takes the traveller to Paddington rail station from where trains run to Wales approximately every 40 minutes in peak time. Check out the train schedules at www.railtrack.co.uk

If you are driving to South Wales, just look for the M4 motorway. Look out for signs reading "West Country and Wales". You will need 5.50 UK pounds (2010) for the River Severn Crossings toll. This is charged per private car but there is a higher fee for commercial vehicles. You only pay on entering Wales. 

Peter Stean sent me this note regarding Mid Wales. "Can I make a suggestion for your "Where is Wales?" page? You've not mentioned the perfectly good route by rail into mid-Wales (and very beautiful it is too) - simply (London) Euston to Wolverhampton and changing taking in Shrewsbury, Newtown, Caersws etc. and then going out to the coast and splitting, taking in most of the seaside resorts - Aberystwyth, Barmouth, Pwllheli etc. I travel this route quite often and the service is quite frequent, the trains clean and modern and as I said very scenic once you leave the West Midlands behind. Perhaps it would make a good addition to the travel page - you might want to add the relevant websites for the rail services too - www.virgintrains.co.uk & www.centraltrains.co.uk "

NB If you happen to be driving in Wales and notice a white, garishly decorated, turbocharged Volvo in your rear-view mirror - it's probably too late! The speed limit on UK motorways is 70 m.p.h. although the police normally start to take an interest at speeds of over 80 m.p.h. I notice that Welsh police cars are now labelled in Welsh (Heddlu).

2002. Visitors driving in Wales should be aware that many roads now have speed cameras. Local government authorities in Wales vary in their enthusiasm for these devices. Swansea in south Wales is a notorious blackspot. Residents there feel that these cameras have been deployed to raise revenue rather than to help lower the accident figures. Although the camera sites are supposed to be clearly identified to drivers, the roadsigns (which feature a graphic of an old fashioned camera)  are often obscured by trees and other clutter. The camera housings are supposed to be identified by their yellow color but in practice just a panel is painted in yellow. The supporting columns and large areas of the housings are painted in pale grey - a colour which tends to blend in nicely with other roadside clutter. Often, drivers only find the locations of these cameras after they have driven by and been flashed.  

John Weston

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