Estimated time to read: 4 minutes
Snowdonia National Park in North Wales has attracted visitors from around the UK for centuries; with current records suggesting that around 10 million people visit the National Park from around the world each year.
Whilst visitors have travelled to Snowdonia to experience the splendour, stunning views, tranquil walks and challenging climbs that Snowdonia has to offer for decades; stories of the mythical legends and creatures of this area have been passed down over thousands of years. In fact, it could be said that legendary stories, tales and poems, are part of the Welsh culture and history.
Judging by the number of tales associated with King Arthur, he was a busy fella, with stories of his bravery and military skill associated with various places across the UK.
Many historians believe that the tales of King Arthur are loosely based around a 5th century British swordsman who thwarted a Saxon invasion. There are a number of places and springs, such as Cegin Arthur that bear his name, as well as a number of stories regarding King Arthur in Snowdonia…
The illustration above by Alfred Kappes shows the Lady of the Lake presenting Excalibur to King Arthur. It is said that after King Arthur’s final battle, Sir Bedivere threw the sword into Llyn Ogwen in Snowdonia – where it was caught by the Lady of the Lake.
“Bwlch y Saethau” means “pass of arrows”. King Arthur is said to have fought his last battle at this pass, in Tregalan. When he was killed with enemy arrows, his men built a cairn – a monumental mound of stones – over his body. This monument stood until the 19th century, and was named “Carnedd Arthur”. Arthur’s knights also took the rather drastic action of sealing themselves in a cave below the summit of Y Lliwedd – a mountain which is connected to Snowdon.
The cave is now known as Ogof Llanciau Eryri, which translates to Cave of the Young Men of Snowdonia. Legend has it that the knights still sleep there today, waiting for King Arthur to awake when Wales is in mortal danger.
The Watkin Path up Mount Snowdon shown in the image above, goes through Bwlch y Saethau where King Arthur is said to have had his final battle.
King Arthur was quite a chap; not only was he top dog at the round table, he led victories at a great number of battles and even killed a massive giant called Rhita.
The legendary equivalent of Manny Pacquiao vs Floyd Mayweather (but not a huge let down), the fight featured two famous warriors. Rhita Gawr was King of Wales, and well known for killing two former British kings Nynniaw and Peibiaw, who had fallen out over borders and livestock. Rhita killed them to put an end to their feud and cut off their beards. The remaining 28 kings (yes, 28), were alarmed by Rhita’s lack of respect and declared war on the giant, but all ultimately died and suffered the same beard-trimming fate as the first 2 kings.
Rhita had so many beards, that he created his infamous cloak with them, which reached from his shoulder to the floor. With a record of 30-0, Rhita was understandably confident and looked to topple the remaining king in Britain, King Arthur.
Rhita was defeated by Arthur, dying at the sword of the mighty king. Rhita is said to be buried under a mound of stones at the summit of Mount Snowdon.
Another legendary Welshman – one that definitely existed – was Owain Glyndŵr. Glyndŵr was the last Welshman to hold the title of Prince of Wales and he led an uprising against the English starting in 1400.
The cave known as Ogof Owain Glyndŵr, is located on the slopes of Moel yr Ogof . The story goes that, as Owain Glyndŵr was being pursued by English soldiers, to make his getaway, he climbed a 300 foot rock crevice. The English soldiers, presumably not as skilled in climbing, refused to follow Glyndŵr, who made the cave his hideout until the soldiers returned back to England.
Owain Glyndŵr’s Cave can be seen from the Rhyd Ddu Path, which leads to the summit of Snowdon and on the eastern side of a lesser known path/mountain – Moel Hebog. There is however, some confusion as to which crevice or depression in the mountain actually constitutes the fabled cave, which often gets mistaken for the entrance to the old asbestos mine.
One account states that the cave can be found “…in the grassy ledge that leads from the asbestos mine around the front of the buttress. It is possible to traverse around to the cave, although it is a bit hairy”
The image above shows the summit of the ‘cave hill’. Owain Glyndwr’s cave is further down.
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