This weekend brings us to Llanrwst, and another temporary holiday site run by South Lancs DA. This one wasn’t cancelled. The weather was fine. No dramas on the roads, so limited story material, but I’ll just tell you about the walk we did on the Saturday which, it has to be said, was pretty spectacular.
We started by getting the train to Betws-y-Coed, from where we walked upstream alongside Afon Llugwy as far as the Miner’s Bridge, a steeply angled footbridge. We’ve crossed it before but today its name took on more significance later in our walk. This time we didn’t cross the bridge but angled straight up the hill to the right instead.
Crossing the road we headed along a path through the forest that climbs steadily for about half a mile before twisting up through a rocky stream bed and emerging into meadowland reminiscent of Switzerland. There are fine views of Moel Siabod and of the Carneddau, all framed by pines and oaks set amongst meadows filled with wild flowers. It really is very special up here.
|Gantry over the old mine shaft at Cyffty Lead Mine|
The paths don’t quite match those on our map, but then it’s an old map, full of holes and frayed edges, maybe it’s time to treat myself to a new one. We headed for a group of cottages which the map calls Hafotypencraig, then took a path across the fields to an old mine working. This was a fascinating place, because up here, miles from anywhere, someone has taken the trouble to excavate the old mine buildings, fence them, and provide captivating information boards about it all. There is a gantry that bridges the main shaft and allows you to look down into the hole beneath your feet. It is a lead mine called Cyffty, and it dates back to the 1850’s. It is idyllic now. Perhaps not so much back in the day.
|Artist's impression of Cyffty Mine in its Heyday (Chris Hull - taken from information board at the mine site)|
We followed the road, now, heading for Llyn Geirionydd, then followed a path uphill past more mine workings, and on cresting the brow of the hill the view of the lake below was fabulous. We followed the path down the hill, diagonally, through deep ferns, then spent a few minutes sitting beside the lake.
|Eglwys Sant Rhychwyn|
The rest of the walk was simply a return to Llanrwst, with nothing much to offer, except then we came upon an old church, hardly signposted at all, which turned out to be 1000 years old and still in use.
Eglwys Sant Rhychwyn was built in the eleventh century and is known locally as Llywelyn’s Old Church because Llywelyn the Great, Prince of Gwynedd, worshipped here in the twelfth century. Pushing open the ancient twisted door and stepping inside it seemed it hadn’t changed at all in all the intervening years. There is a rack on the wall, a coffin bier, for carrying coffins around the hillsides. The stone font is the original font and still in the same place.
I am not an old church person and I am seldom turned on much by history, but this felt old, and there was a real atmosphere about the place – a sense of deep tranquillity. It was quite wonderful.
We hit the road again, a steep downhill section for a long way, the kind of descent that makes your toes hurt as they are pushed harder and harder into the front of your shoes.
|Fairy Dell - undisclosed location somewhere in Wales|
So we went off on another tangent and followed a footpath down through the woods. A stepped path down beside a woodland stream, an idyllic stream, the kind of setting where fairies might live. And of course, being manx, I believe in fairies and I know fairy dells. And if ever there was a fairy dell this would be it.
Did we see any fairies? That would be telling.
But I’m not saying where it was, either.