Wales, land of legends

This year Wales is marking the Year of Legends, a fitting celebration for a country full of mythical landscapes and mystical stories. Here are some of our favourites.

Cadair Idris

Cadair Idris, which directly translates as Idris’ Chair, is one of Wales’ most iconic peaks and can be found in southern Snowdonia. It’s rumoured that Idris was once a giant king who used the mountain as his throne and it is said that if you fall asleep on the mountain you’ll wake up as either a madman, a poet or not at all. For the perfect base to explore this throne, take a look at Penmaenuchaf Hall.

Merlin’s Oak

It’s said that King Arthur’s legendary wizard protected this oak tree, which can be found in the centre of Carmarthen. Merlin threatened that Carmarthen would drown if the oak was ever removed and it was rumoured to even resemble the face of the wizard himself. A local poisoned it in the 1850s, and the remains of the trunk were finally removed at the end of the 1970s – after which Carmarthen suffered its worst floods for years. Coincidence? If you want to explore Merlin’s cursed town, stay at Tŷ Mawr Country Hotel:

Merlin is said to be buried on Bardsey Island, off the coast of the Llyn Peninsula. Our recommendation for a hotel in this area is Porth Tocyn.

Gelert

The legend of Wales’ most famous dog, Gelert, and his master Llewelyn the Great is one that many schoolchildren are familiar with.

Llewelyn and his wife went out hunting with his wife, leaving their baby son with a nurse and a servant, who went on a walk. On Llewelyn’s return, Gelert ran out of the home covered in blood. Llewelyn ran to his son’s room and, finding the cradle overturned with his son nowhere to be found, killed Gelert with his sword.

As the dog died, his last sounds were answered by the sounds of a baby’s cries, coming from behind the overturned cradle. Llewelyn pulled aside the cradle and found his son unharmed lying next to the body of a huge wolf.

The village of Beddgelert in Gwynedd is supposedly where Llewelyn buried his brave companion. You can visit the charming village of Beddgelert and learn more about the legend. We recommend staying at the Saracen’s Head.

St David

The patron saint of Wales, St David was born around the year 520 near the city that now bears his name.

St David performed many miracles including bringing a boy back to life. The most famous of his achievements is said to have taken place in the village of Llanddewi Brefi when he was preaching to a large crowd that was having difficulty hearing him.

A white dove landed on David’s shoulder as the ground beneath him rose up to form a hill that allowed everyone in the crowd to see and hear him better.

If you want to visit this hill, which now holds a church, stay at Y Talbot, or if you want to visit the birthplace of St David and hear more about his life, stay at Warpool Court for some added luxury to your stay.

Dwynwen – the saint for Wales’ lovers

In our first guest blog for The Year of Legends, we’ve asked Alwyn and Carl of Celticos to recount the story of Santes Dwynwen…

Image credit: http://www.visitwales.com/

On the far Western corner of Anglesey we can see Llanddwyn, the setting for the story of Dwynwen, the patron saint of Welsh lovers…

Dwynwen was the fairest of Brychan Brycheiniog’s 24 daughters. She fell in love with Maelon Dafodrill, but as always seems to happen, he was not her father’s choice, and he forbade her from marrying Maelon.

The scheming father had lined up another man who would fit his ambitions for this most beautiful daughter. The distraught Maelon, believing that it was Dwynwen who had rejected him, attacked her in his jealousy and anger.

Dwynwen fled to the wild woods where she begged that God would make her forget Maelon. She fell into a deep sleep and was visited by an angel carrying a potion that could bring forgetfulness and would turn Maelon to ice.  As she woke, she heard God declare that her wishes would be fulfilled.

She wished that Maelon would thaw from his icy state but also that she would never marry. And finally her third wish was granted – that God would fulfil the hopes and dreams of lovers through her prayers.

She kept her side of the bargain and devoted the rest of her life to God. The ruins of a church dedicated to her still exists on the windswept island, a holy well and a cross bear her name, and all lovers in Wales lovers honour her memory on her feast day 25 January.

Image credit: https://www.celticos.com/

Celticos provide bespoke guided tours and have created a series of Legendary Tours specifically for the Year of Legends – head over to their website to discover how you can explore hidden places with a Drive, Walk and Explore Tour, learn about Wales’ most iconic legend The Red Dragon and experience first hand the land of myths and legends. Click here to find out more.