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Caernarfon 14 miles - Porthmadog 8 miles - Betws-y-Coed 18 miles

 
 

Beddgelert

Beddgelert © Crown copyright (2013) Visit Wales

The story of Beddgelert, myth or fact? 

Beddgelert (Meaning the grave of Gelert ) was once described as "a few dozen hard grey houses ... huddled together in some majestic mountain scenery". This village, just south of Snowdon, owes its fame to the story of Prince Llewelyn ap Iorwerth who decided on a hunting trip and left his infant son in the charge of his faithful dog Gelert. On his return, the Prince was greeted by Gelert, who noticed the dog's muzzle was soaked in blood, and his son was nowhere to be seen. Llewelyn attacked the dog, and it fell to the ground gravely injured. However, within minutes he heard a cry and stumbled through nearby bushes to find his son, safe in his cradle. Beside the cradle lay the body of a giant wolf covered with wounds, the result of a fight to the death with hound Gelert. Llewelyn strode back to his faithful dog and watched it die from his actions. 
Beddgelert

Beddgelert
© Crown copyright (2013) Visit Wales

The truth is that this story was made up by local traders some time ago in an attempt to lure Snowdon's visitors to their village. It appears the place name actually refers to Gelert, a sixth century saint from the area. This legend was well known by the time George Borrow visited Beddgelert in 1854 as part of the journey through the country the results of which he published in 1862 in his book tilted 'Wild Wales'. 

The tomb of Gelert supposedly stands in a beautiful meadow below Cerrig Llan and consists of a slab lying on its side, and two upright stones. 

George Borrow calls the valley of Gelert "a wondrous valley - rivalling for grandeur and beauty any vale either in the Alps or Pyrenees". Beddgelert is unrivalled within Snowdonia. Its stone built dwellings, inns and hotels are surrounded by the finest scenery in North Wales, with Snowdon, the highest peak in England and Wales, dominating the skyline a few miles to the north. Wooded vales, rocky slopes and mountain lakes fill the surrounding countryside. The village, in keeping with its location in the Snowdonia National Park, is picturesque and unspoilt. Small and friendly, it boasts a full range of amenities including hotels, guest houses, shops and attractions.

Beddgelert BridgeBeddgelert Bridge
© Crown copyright (2013) Visit Wales

Beddgelert over the years has won a number of National accolades for its admirable environmental programme to enhance the village - Wales in Bloom. Britain in Bloom and in 1997 won the Gold Award for villages in the ENTENTE FLORALE, the prestigious Europe in Bloom competition.

St Mary's Church is built on the site of a 7th century Augustinian Priory. It retains relics of the original building severely damaged by fire in the 13th century. Sygun Copper Mine on the outskirts of the village won a Prince of Wales family attraction award in 1993. It offers you the opportunity to experience the working environment of the Victorian miner. 

Two rivers - the Glaslyn and the Colwyn - meet at a picturesque bridge at the centre of the village. Beddgelert is in the midst of magnificent walking country. The poet William Wordsworth set off from here on a dawn ascent of Snowdon, but in addition to the dramatic hiking terrain there is also easier walks along the riverside and the old railway track.

Locomotive on Aberglaslyn Pass south of BeddgelertWelsh Highland Railway on Aberglaslyn Pass
© Crown copyright (2013) Visit Wales

Beddgelert itself was once a busy port - before the construction of the Cob at Porthmadog the river was tidal and ships sailed all the way to the village centre. The village is also famous for being the place where Rupert the Bear was set - and also for being the site of two wonders of Welsh mythology, the vanishing mountain and the castle of Dinas Emrys said to be where Merlin gave his first prophecy and one of the reputed sites of the Holy Grail!!

For one of the most scenic drives in the whole of Snowdonia, take the A498 which follows the course of the Glaslyn north-eastwards past two idyllic lakes - Llyn Dinas and Llyn Gwynant - before climbing up the shoulder of the Nant Gwynant Pass into the rocky heights of Snowdonia.

Just outside the village is the Sygun Copper Mine (phone: 01766-510100), mined from Roman times until it was turned into a tourist attraction. 

Snowdonia National Park

Snowdonia is the second-largest national park in Britain. Although the Snowdonia Mountains cover a fairly compact area, in the north they loom over the coast and are undeniably spectacular. The area around Mount Snowdon is the busiest part of the park. About half a million people climb, walk or take the train to the summit each year. This was the area where members of the first successful attempt on Mt Everest trained, and it's been the training ground for many of Britain's best-known mountaineers since then. 

The Welsh name for Snowdon is Yr Widdfa, which means 'great tomb' - legend says that a giant who was killed by King Arthur is buried on the summit. The English name is said to have been derived from an old word for snow, which crowns the peaks in winter. As well as impressive mountains, the park contains a wide variety of other natural features - rivers, lakes, waterfalls, forests, moorlands, glacial valleys and a lovely coastline. 

There are Stone Age burial chambers at Dyffryn Ardudwy and Capel Garmon; Bronze Age burial cairns at Bryn Cader Faner near Talsarnau; a hill fort at Pen-y-Gaer; Roman forts at Caerhun, Tomen-y-Mur and Caer Gai; and Welsh and Norman castles. The mountains sheltered Llywelyn ap Gruffydd in the 13th century and Owain Glyndwr in the 15th, during their struggles to reclaim Wales from the English.

The remains of the huge mining and quarrying operations that were once a major industry can still be seen. These are now tourist attractions like the former slate quarries and gold and copper mines. And Blaenau Ffestiniog which has two slate mines open to the public. 

Several of Wales' 'Great Little Railways' are found in Snowdonia, including the famous Ffestiniog Railway. 

Rainfall in the area is very high, with over 500mm some years. By way of comparison, the town of Leicester in England manages an annual average of only 63mm. There are several lakes in Snowdonia and some are used for water storage for hydroelectric power. The largest pumped storage scheme in Europe is on the edge of the park near Tanigrisau. 

See also Llanberis at the foot of Snowdon. Visit Caernarfon Castle some 14 miles from Beddgelert and Dolwyddelan Castle near Betws-y-Coed. Criccieth Castle is 12 miles from Beddgelert.

 

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