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Penrhyndeudraeth b&b, guesthouse and hotel accommodation

Penrhyndeudraeth in Gwynedd

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Penrhyndeudraeth, Gwynedd. The name, which means Head of the Hill-Slope over the Two Reaches of Sand, accurately describes the place. It stands upon a ridge of land that is left islanded where the Glaslyn river and the Dwyryd join to create a great estuary of sand and sea and marshland, part of which was reclaimed by the enterprise that planned Portmadoc. The wide undulation called the Traeth Bach lies below it, and to the North West runs the Morfa Gwyllt (Wild Sea-Land). It is a bridge between the landscapes of the heaped Snowdonia of the North and the upland massif of Ardudwy pressing upon Harlech. The site was noted in 1188 by Gerald de Barn, who passed that way coming from the Mawddach estuary to reach Nevyn (as he spells it) on the shore of the Lleyn peninsula, where he found time, in the intervals of preaching for the Third Crusade that was about to be launched, to inquire into the legend that the Merlin of the Woods, the third Merlin who was neither Roman nor Scots but native to lower Britain, had been born there. He saw the two great stretches of tidal sands, and called them the Traeth Mawr and Traeth Bachan, the greater and the less. Two castles of stone had lately been erected there, he writes, one called Deudraeth and built by the sons of Conan, which stood towards the northern side of the estuary; the other called Cam Madryn, which seems to have meant Fox Hump, built by another family, the sons of Owen. This he sets in Lleyn, and perhaps by that he meant to place it near to what is now Portmadoc. For once, his travels seem to have confused his memory, for he is certainly inaccurate in his account of the approach through Ardudwy; but that Penrhyndeudraeth has a distinguished history we can take as correct.

Eight centuries have obliterated the evidence, though at Minffordd, where the railway strikes the road from Portmadoc, a small but manageable way leads to a wooded spit over the sands where the maps mark a Castell Deudraeth. The small hill to the East of the village carries the surviving proof of early occupation, where a “cistfaen” (burial-stone) stands looking over the Traeth Bach and across the Dwyryd stream towards Llandecwyn. On the height above this place lies Llyn Tecwyn Uchaf, 500 ft up and closed with lovely hills and the sight of the seacoasts. It serves as reservoir for Portmadoc; but its isolated position and the wide skies it reflects make that fact of no account. It is 1/2 mile long and supplies some of the best trout in the area. It has a legend, which may unfortunately be true, saying that in the 17th century, when such customs were frequent, an old woman suspected of witchcraft was rolled down the hills to Llandecwyn in a spiked barrel. There is a spot, taken to be her grave, marked by a large piece of quartz-rock that would have the effect of preventing her ghost from haunting the place. Her name was Dorti, they said, and anyone who passed close by had to throw a stone on the grave. The tale apparently confuses this lake with a site in the Dolcoran valley, near Llandecwyn, where more concrete evidence exists for the killing of the witch. The piece of quartz was of the sort that was set in times before history to mark the trackways over Plynhimon, much as the Greeks used a white stone for outstanding points; and the duty of casting a stone to keep the marker-cairn permanent has a living parallel in the cairn by Hyddgen. The Tecwyn lake probably belongs to the record of the first explorers of these coasts before even the Celts entered Britain.

Nearby towns: Blaenau Ffestiniog, Criccieth, Harlech, Porthmadog

Nearby villages: Beddgelert, Bryncir, Dolwyddelan, Ffestiniog, Garndolbenmaen, Llanbedr, Llandecwyn, Llanenddwyn, Llanfair, Llanfrothen, Llanllyfni, Llanystumdwy, Maentwrog, Minffordd, Nantlle, Penygroes, Portmeirion, Talsarnau, Tan-y-Bwlch, Tanygrisiau, Trawsfynydd, Tremadog

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