Beddgelert is a village and community in the Snowdonia area of Gwynedd, Wales, one of the most beautiful in the UK. It stands in a valley at the confluence of the River Glaslyn and River Colwyn. Just above the confluence of the rivers, in the centre of the village, is the old stone bridge with two arches. The River Gwynant also exists in the area; coinciding with the River Colwyn under what locals know as ‘Pont Bren’; creating the River Glaslyn. Many of the houses and hotels are built of local dark stone. To the west is Moel Hebog and its neighbours to the north and a series of hills rising to the top of Snowdon. A lane of the A4085 between Caernarfon (13 miles north) and Porthmadog (8 miles south) runs through the village.
The outdoor equipment company Gelert originated in Bryncir then moved to Beddgelert but later moved its headquarters to nearby Porthmadog.
Despite the presence of a raised mound in the village called Gelert's Grave, now a tourist attraction, there is absolutely no evidence for Gelert's existence. The "grave" mound is ascribed to the activities of a late 18th-century landlord of the Goat Hotel in Beddgelert, David Pritchard, who connected the legend to the village in order to encourage tourism. Similar legends can be found in other parts of Europe and Asia.
The village is probably named after an early Christian missionary and leader called Celert (or Cilert) who settled here early in the 8th century. The earliest record of the name Beddgelert appears on a document dated 1258, and the name recorded is "Bekelert". In a document of 1269 it is recorded as "Bedkelerd".
The Church of St. Mary stands at the end of Stryd yr Eglwys (Church Street). This was originally a part of a Benedictine Monastery (the chapel), but is all that remains since the rest of the monastery was accidentally burnt down during Edward I’s war of conquest. Parts of the building date from the 12th century; it is still in use.
Beddgelert is a significant tourist attraction, its picturesque bridge crossing the River Colwyn just upstream of its confluence with the River Glaslyn. It is also the nearest village to the scenic Glaslyn gorge, an area of tumultuous river running between steep wooded hills. Much of the area is, however, becoming invaded by the alien plant, Rhododendron ponticum which provides a covering of pink blossom in May and June, but which is slowly blanketing out the native flora. Attempts have been made to control its spread by cutting and burning.
River levels on the River Glaslyn in Beddgelert are constantly monitored by the Environment Agency, in order to give advance warning of flood conditions lower down the valley. Beddgelert has a range of hotels with public bars, guesthouses, cafes, and restaurants. The car park in the village provides the easiest access route for climbing Moel Hebog, the mountain which directly overlooks the village.
Part of the restored Welsh Highland Railway runs through the village. In April 2009 the railway station was reopened to the public. The line links the village with Caernarfon to the north and Porthmadog to the south. Other local attractions include the Sygun Copper Mine.
The village is also linked with the Rupert Bear stories, as Alfred Bestall wrote and illustrated some of the stories whilst he lived in the village, in a cottage at the foot of Mynydd Sygun. There is even a small area known as ‘Rupert Garden’ in the village, dedicated to the Bear; a short walk from Alfred Bestall’s old home.
Many films have made use of the scenery around Beddgelert; most notably The Inn of the Sixth Happiness, starring Ingrid Bergman. Other more modern films such as Tomb Raider 2: Lara Croft and the Cradle of Life have also been filmed here; starring Angelina Jolie.
Renowned bards who lived in the area in the 15th–16th centuries include Dafydd Nanmor, Rhys Nanmor and Rhys Goch Eryri. More recently, from the 19th to the 20th centuries both Glaslyn and Carneddog lived in Nantmor. Currently Nantmor is still home to poets, including Nia Powell and Cynan Jones. The strong woman and harpist Marged ferch Ifan is said to have been born here as she was baptised at the local church in 1696.
On September 21, 1949 a meteorite struck the Prince Llewelyn Hotel in the early hours of the morning, causing damage to the roof and a bedroom in the hotel. The following week the Caernarvon & Denbigh Herald reported the incident:
STRANGE HAPPENING.- About 3 a.m. on the morning of September 21st, a piece of metal weighing about 5 pounds fell through the roof of Prince Llewelyn Hotel to a bedroom below. The noise was heard throughout the village, and up to the present no explanation has been forthcoming for the mysterious happening.
The proprietor of the hotel, a Mr Tillotson, subsequently sold half the meteorite to the British Museum and half to Durham University, which had placed an advertisement in the local papers asking for information and offering a reward for any recovered fragments of the meteorite.
There have only ever been two such verified meteorite falls in Wales: the Beddgelert incident, and an earlier incident fourteen miles away in Pontllyfni in 1931, at the other end of the Nantlle Ridge.
Beddgelert is the setting for two of Wales’s most celebrated legends. Probably the most famous of all is the story of Dinas Emrys, the lofty mountain home of the dragon you see fluttering on Welsh flags.
Way, way back in the fifth century the Celtic King Vortigern chose Dinas Emrys as the site for his castle. From here he hoped to escape the Saxons but his plans for a fortress weren't easily achieved. Every night the royal masons would lay down their tools only to return the next day to find they'd vanished and their carefully crafted walls had fallen down.
And so it went on, day after day until Vortigern was forced to seek the help of sorcerers and magicians. They advised that the ground should be sprinkled with the blood of a child born to a human mother and a father from the ‘other world’. A search was launched and eventually the child was found in Caer Myrddin (Carmarthen) and preparations for the sacrifice were made.
But the child, Myrddin Emrys, was no ordinary child. In fact, he was Merlin, the wizard. Merlin convinced Vortigern that two dragons lay sleeping under a lake inside the mountain and it was they that were destroying the foundations of his fortress. Convinced the boy was right, Vortigern commanded his labourers to dig deep into the mountain.
They did as they were told and discovered an underground lake, just as Merlin had predicted. Once drained, the red and white dragons that lay sleeping there awoke and began to fight. Eventually the white dragon fled and the red dragon returned quietly to his lair. Vortigern’s castle was finally built and duly named Dinas Emrys in honour of Myrddin Emrys, and the red dragon has been celebrated ever since.
Not convinced? In 1945 the site was excavated by archaeologists who discovered a lake and the ruins of the fortress dating to Vortigern’s time. The walls all showed signs of having been rebuilt several times… Tread carefully if you explore this hill. A dragon sleeps beneath it.
And for those of you who would like to hear the story of the faithful hound whether true or not.
The 13th century prince Llywelyn the Great was an early inhabitant of what would one day become the village of Beddgelert. Fond of hunting, he owned many hounds but his favourite was Gelert, which was given to him by the English King John.
One day, the prince and his princess set out for a day’s hunting together, leaving their baby in the care of Gelert. On returning home they were horrified to discover their baby was missing and Gelert’s muzzle was covered in blood. Llywelyn immediately drew his sword and, in deep despair, killed his favourite hound. As Gelert fell to the ground, he let out a mighty yelp and a baby’s cry was heard from a dark corner of the room in response.
Llywellyn discovered his heir unharmed, but by its side lay a mighty wolf, which had been killed by Gelert. Gelert had killed the wolf to defend the baby but died by his master’s sword. Grief-stricken and filled with remorse Llywelyn gave the faithful hound a ceremonial burial by the river and is said to have never smiled again. Gelert was eventually immortalised in the name the village is known by today Beddgelert.
Craflwyn and Beddgelert is in the heart of Snowdonia. It offers walkers of all abilities the opportunity to go out and explore the wonderful sights, sounds and smells, the wildlife and the habitats that make Snowdonia so special. Here's just a few of the walks that are on the doorstep.
The legendary trail of Dinas Emrys, classified as moderate it takes about 2 hours.
Begin your journey in the Princess of Gwynedd centre at Craflwyn. From the car park take the footpath leading up through the woodland. Look out for red and yellow waymarkers labelled ‘Princess of Gwynedd’.
Take a seat on our sculpted dargon bench on your way up to Dinas Emrys. Continue on your journey until you get to a three way junction in an open area. Take the path leading straight ahead, up towards the woodland. Continue on the path over a small wooden bridge until you get to a beautiful waterfall. Carry on your journey following the footpath and looking out for red and yellow Princes of Gwynedd waymarkers. You’ll soon reach a stile in the wall on the right. Continue over the stile up into the woods.
You’ll soon reach another stile over a fence, jump over and head through the woods, in-between the rocky cliffs. Follow the footpath through the woodland. Follow the zig-zag path up the rocky cliffs towards Dinas Emrys. You’re nearly there a few more steps and you’ll reach the top of Dinas Emrys.
When you’re ready to return back down, retrace your steps back over the two stiles and past the waterfall. When you get back to the three way open junction, take the route leading down to your left. Go through the gate and make your way down past Craflwyn Hall, and back to Craflwyn car park where you started off.
Cwm Bychan and Aberglaslyn Pass walk. This is classed as challenging. It can be dangerous, walking on a path with a cliff on one side and a precipice on the other.
Start at the National Trust car park in Nantmor village. Follow the sign for Cwm Bychan after you go through the gate to the left of the facilities in the car park. Follow the path underneath the old railway bridge. You'll notice two huge concrete circles known as 'buddles'. Make your way up the valley through the woodland. The large concrete circles were intended to be used as a mechanical way of panning copper ore in the valley. The mines of Cwm Bychan were in their heyday between 1782 and 1802 and worked intermittently until 1930. The most visible remains (including the buddles and an arial ropeway) date back to the 1920s.
Dotted around Cwm Bychan you'll see several trees that seem alien to the landscape. They probably derive from nearby estate gardens that were planted in Victorian times. The Lawson Cypress now seen on these slopes were most likely brought here by birds carrying their seeds. There are four pylons from the valley's ore-transporting ropeway. Historical accounts show that the system wasn't a complete success, with buckets often said to hit the ground, spilling their loads. The remains of the ropeway adits, spoil heaps and other buildings hark back to the area's industrial past. This internationally scarce heathland can only be found in western coastal areas of Europe. The area is home to insects, butterflies such as the grayling butterfly and birds including the wheatear and whinchat.
The remains of traditional farming methods are to be found here. Pwll Golchi Uchaf (Upper Washing Pool) was once used by the local farms when washing their sheep. The stream nearby was dammed to form a deep pool to wash the sheep. Until the 1960s, it was common for farmers to wash their sheep before shearing to ensure a higher price for their fleece.
The Llyndu copper mine was a relatively successful mine in the first half of the 19th century. To the left of the path you'll see a large paved area. In 1839, 20 girls were employed to work on this 'cobbing' floor to break the ore. The manager at the time was quoted describing the girls as 'the cheapest thing we have on the mine and without them it is hardly possible to know what we should do'.
As you climb higher up the valley along the path you'll notice several pylons within the landscape. These are the remains of the arial ropeway built in 1927 to carry ore from the upper end of Cwm Bychan down the valley where you started.
Glaslyn River. The copper sulphate of the hills where you were walking gives the Glaslyn River its distinctive turquoise tinge. The spray from the river and the coolness of the gorge provides ideal conditions for ferns, mosses and liverworts. The river itself is home to otters, salmon, kingfishers and dippers.
At the crossroads, you have a choice to descend via the picturesque Llyn Dinas and follow the river Glaslyn to Beddgelert or turn left for Beddgelert and continue with the copper mining story. Cross a stile, turn immediately left and follow the path towards a steep descent. At Bwlch Sygun keep to the ridge until you reach a large cairn on Mynydd Sygun. From here you'll start heading downwards. Descending the slope through the rhododendrons, you'll go through a kissing gate and the path continues down. A wooden gate marks the end of your descent. Wind your way to the village green by zigzagging right, then left, then right. Here you'll see a footbridge over river Glaslyn. You can take a well-earned break at this point by taking advantage of the facilities in Beddgelert village. Otherwise, turn left immediately before the footbridge along the bank of the river Glaslyn.
Continue until you reach the railway tracks and take great care when crossing: the Welsh Highland Railway service travels between Caernarfon and Porthmadog along this route. Continue along the Fisherman's path. You should now head towards the grassy path near to the river. This fisherman's path will take you along the side of the Aberglaslyn gorge. Great care should be taken when negotiating this part of the path especially the stone buttress above the river.
The building on your right is a former sheep dipping bath now used to share information about Aberglasyn. You're now in the Aberglasyn Pass. After crossing the wooden bridge you climb away from the river into mature oak woodland high above the gorge. Turn left up the steps and follow the path through the woodland back to the car park at Nantmor.
Nant Gwynant is one of the most dramatic and beautiful valleys in Wales. It's northern slopes rise to the summit of their highest mountain, Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon) and to the south lies the relatively undisturbed hills of Moel y Dyniewyd and the Moelwynion range.
The Afon Glaslyn river runs through two majestic lakes, Llyn Gwynant and Llyn Dinas, and below the picturesque village of Beddgelert, it tumbles down to sea-level through the positively Alpine Aberglaslyn Pass. The 200 acre Craflwyn estate is set in the heart of beautiful Snowdonia.
Should you be feeling really adventurous, and have the entire day free, you might like to walk one of the less well-trodden of the routes to the summit of Snowdon, Watkin's Path.
This path was named after Sir Edward Watkin, Liberal Member of Parliament and railway entrepreneur who retired to a chalet in Cwm Llan on the foothills of Snowdon. A track to the South Snowdon Slate Quarry through Cwm Llan already existed so to enable visitors to walk all the way up Snowdon, Edward Watkin created a path from the quarry to the summit. This was the first designated footpath in Britain and the first step towards opening the countryside to walkers. The path was officially opened in 1892 by the Prime Minister William Gladstone, who was 83 years old at the time. He addressed a crowd of over 2000 people from a rock on the side of the path, which is known today as the Gladstone Rock.
This is thought to be one of the most hard going paths up Snowdon, as it starts only a little above sea level. The path starts off wide and quite even, but becomes rocky towards the second half, crossing loose scree before leading up to the summit. It is classified as a hard mountain walk and will take about 7 hours. Please be aware of the weather conditions for the day and take all necessary precautions.
Toilets - in the car parks at Craflwyn and Nantmor and Watkin Path. Cafés and shops available at Beddgelert. National Trust shop at Beddgelert. Non National Trust café at Nant Gwynant (www.cafesnowdon.co.uk). Dogs are welcome in Snowdonia in general, but please keep them under control, especially around livestock.
Craflwyn - Accessible places to park and pretty views into the wood from the car park. Accessible toilet in the car park at Craflwyn. Beddgelert - Excellent 2km all access path from the village along both sides of the river Glaslyn. Low level path up to the river at Llyn Dinas. Fantastic range of walks for all abilities.
Location : Beddgelert, Gwynedd, LL55 4NG
Transport : Main line stations at Porthmadog 10 miles, Betws y Coed 17 miles and Bangor 20 Miles. Welsh Highland Railway stations at Beddgelert, Rhyd Ddu 4 miles and Caernarfon 13 miles. Bus Routes : Sherpa bus service for Snowdon; Regular bus service to Beddgelert.
Opening Times : Dawn till Dusk.
Tickets : Free
Tel : 01766 510120