Following Visit Wales’ The Year of Adventure in 2016 and the success of all those great adrenalin giving activites North Wales is becoming renowned for, 2017 is designated to be ‘The Year of Legends’ so we thought we’d write our very own favourite legend list all within a half hour of Betws-y-Coed…
Our Local Legends List…
Llewelyn the Great
You might know the 12th and 13th century lands of North Wales from their immortalisation in the much-loved Princes of Gwynedd stories. Following in their footsteps is easy and evocative, the ruined castle of Dolwyddelan was once the fortification of Llywelyn the Great, this isolated sentinel is only a short walk uphill from the car park on the A470 and the views encompass Siabod, the Moelwyns, the Lledr Valley and the Gwydir Forest.
A brute of a fortress. Caernarfon Castle’s pumped-up appearance is unashamedly muscle-bound and intimidating. Picking a fight with this massive structure would have been a daunting prospect. By throwing his weight around in stone, King Edward I created what is surely one of the most impressive of Wales’s castles. Most castles are happy with round towers, not Caernarfon! Polygonal towers were the order of the day, with the Eagle Tower being the most impressive of these. The site of this great castle wasn’t chosen by accident. It had previously been the location of a Norman motte and bailey castle and before that a Roman fort stood nearby. The lure of water and easy access to the sea made the banks of the River Seiont an ideal spot for Edward’s monster in masonry….. now a designated World Heritage site this is one monster legend that stands the test of time
A short walk south of the village, following the footpath down towards the Aberglaslyn Pass leads to ‘Gelert’s Grave’. According to legend, the stone monument in the field marks the resting place of ‘Gelert’, the faithful hound of the medieval Welsh Prince Llewelyn the Great. The story, as written on the tombstone reads:
“In the 13th century Llewelyn, prince of North Wales, had a palace at Beddgelert. One day he went hunting without Gelert, ‘The Faithful Hound’, who was unaccountably absent. On Llewelyn’s return the truant, stained and smeared with blood, joyfully sprang to meet his master. The prince alarmed hastened to find his son, and saw the infant’s cot empty, the bedclothes and floor covered with blood. The frantic father plunged his sword into the hound’s side, thinking it had killed his heir. The dog’s dying yell was answered by a child’s cry. Llewelyn searched and discovered his boy unharmed, but nearby lay the body of a mighty wolf which Gelert had slain. The prince filled with remorse is said never to have smiled again. He buried Gelert here”.
Legend or local tall tale… whichever it is the walk down the Aberglaslyn Pass will have you spellbound with it’s beauty!
The lakes of Llydaw, Dinas and Ogwen, are those that claim to contain the magical Excalibur of King Arthur and on a rock near Betws y Coed there is claimed to be a hoof print of Arthur’s horse Llamrai. Legend has it the mark was made when Arthur and his horse dragged a monster from the lake’s deep waters. To back this up a waterdragon legend exists of the Gwibernant. A ‘gwiber’ in todays Welsh means viper or adder. But a long time ago a ‘gwiber’ was something quite different – a huge snake that could fly. The local gwiber was unique in that it was the only one in Wales that could live on land and under water. This monster was therefore especially dangerous and would devour the local livestock and killed those who tried to get rid of it. Beware when walking around those lakes and only the brave (or foolhardy) will take off their shoes for a paddle….