Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Llechwedd - Betws-y-Coed - Beddgelert - Porthmadog

We spent the day today with our friends, Ann and Barry.  We headed north from Aberystwyth, arriving around 10 am at the Llechwedd Slate Mine.  We descended by train into the slate mine (not very far underground), listening to the guide speak of the working conditions of the men who worked here in the 1860s.  They worked 12 hour days, and largely in darkness, save for the light emitted from two candles, which the men purchased from their own wages.  Jean and I were each wearing two jumpers and a wind cheater in the mine (every warm article of clothing we have on this European trip), and I couldn't help thinking about past mine workers shivering within the subterranean chambers.  Having said that, they worked damned hard, and probably warmed up as a result of their own sweat and toil.

From Llechwedd, we travelled to Betws-y-Coed.  Here, we watched the rush of the water in the river below, strolled along the river under the canopy of rainforest-like greenery that covers the water flow, wandered around the arts and crafts shops, and ate lunch.  The town is an extremely pretty one, set in the heart of the Snowdonia National Park.  It's great to come here in summer.  I loved peering upwards to see the sun shining on the very high pine-covered hills that overlook the town, and which offer the fit enthusiast many varied hiking trails to explore.  It's a camper's and hiker's paradise.  If only we had more time!

After lunch, we drove to Beddgelert, which, in English, means Gelert's Grave.  According to the 13th Century Welsh fable, Llewelyn the Prince of North Wales had a faithful hound called Gelert.  Llewelyn held great faith in Gelert's instinct, and Gelert was an invaluable companion on hunts.  One day, Llewelyn organised an enormous hunting party, and Llewelyn's Gelert started out on the hunt.  Soon, Gelert was missing.  Someone said he'd headed home.  Llewelyn knew there had to be a good reason for this, so the hunt was abandoned.  Llewelyn raced home to see if his baby son were safely sleeping in his bed.  On arriving, he saw no baby son, but Gelert dripping copious amounts of blood from his mouth.  Thinking Gelert had killed his baby, Llewelyn stabbed the dog to death.  Then, a baby could be heard crying.  There, behind the curtain, the baby was found unharmed.  Also found was the wolf, killed by the faithful Gelert before it could kill the baby.  Stricken with remorse, Llewelyn built a grave for Gelert to honour his canine friend.

Beddgelert is a very charming place.  Here, the river Colwyn runs into the river Glaslyn.  On a little bridge here, you can watch the two rivers meet.  If you follow the flow of the Glaslyn, Gelert's grave can be found about 200 yards along.

We had scones, jam and cream at Porthmadog, before finally heading home to our village of Bow Street.

Betws-y-Coed Station
Colwyn River, Beddgelert
Gelert's Grave

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