Visit Porthmadog and the surrounding villages and stay in bed & breakfast accommodation:
Porthmadog, Gwynedd. The road from Maentwrog and the road from Trawsfynydd pass from Minffordd towards Criccieth along the edge of the Traeth Bach, the little stretch of sand facing the Morfa Harlech across the estuary of the Dwyryd. At Minffordd, toll must be paid to cross the embankment, 1 mile long, that was built in the 1820s to reclaim 7,000 acres from the sands and sea. This is now known as the Traeth Mawr; it extends across the greater estuary of the Glaslyn river, It cost £100,000, which today would represent a value many times larger. Along the embankment the serrated outline of Snowdonia and the long arm of Lleyn can be seen in their entirety and to better advantage than from anywhere else. In 1821. as a result of the reclamation scheme, Parliament consented to the construction of a harbour; and it is to this fact that Porthmadog owes its existence. It was named after a William Alexander Madocks. M.P., whose initiative was responsible for the entire undertaking; and he followed it up with the development of the small town of Tremadoc on the western side of the Traeth Mawr.
Porthmadog is a business centre, well built and even picturesque in response to its setting, which gives beautiful views of Cardigan Bay. The harbour is very good, and, besides its activity in slate-shipping, makes a centre for exploring the bay. Its twin, Tremadog, is a remarkable example of early l9th century town-planning; it seems to have been intended for far greater expansion than it actually gained. Town hall, market square, and theatre (which has decided to become a chapel) show that Mr Madocks looked into a future that was never realized, His enterprise commanded the enthusiastic support of the poet Shelley, who brought his wife Harriet and her sister Eliza Westbrook to live, it is said, at Tan-yr-allt, a long, white house with a veranda, 1 mile from Porthmadog on the Beddgelert road; it is set over the highway with its back into the wooded hill-side, as its name describes. More probably, he and his companions may have lived in another house in its grounds. Near Tremadog. in any event, he wrote much of his early Queen Mab. Here, too, the mysterious attempt on his life was said to have been made. His friend Thomas Love Peacock, who wrote many novels and poems celebrating Welsh legend, thought Shelley's account of the affair no more than fantasy. Peacock's summary of the evidence for the attack with pistols in the dead of night sets it beside Shelley's other escapade of coming into the dining-room stark naked to assert before his guests his belief in man's natural virtue. Later, substance was given to Shelley's account by a local shepherd who confessed that he and some of his friends had been annoyed by the poet's habit, on his walks, of putting sick sheep Out of their misery without attempting to save them, and that they had therefore let off a few shots at him to scare him away from the district. The affair remains a mystery. Peacock writes of Wales and its scenery, particularly round Dolgellau, with the enthusiasm of a tremendous walker who did not always find Shelley as energetic as himself. The Misfortunes of Elphin, a romance based on the legend of the cities of Cantref Gwaelod, drowned in Cardigan Bay, is Peacock's best-remembered work.
Another connection with Tremadog is that T.E. Lawrence was born there in 1888. His first enthusiasm was for the medieval castles of the Crusaders in Syria, the Kingdom of the Franks, with its capital at Jerusalem, set up in the 11th century. They are the most perfect examples of the kind of military architecture that in this country is called Norman; and, as he was born in the area commanded by Harlech and Criccieth Castles, Tremadog may well claim that it inspired the visit to the Middle East that interested him in the future of the Arab peoples.
Echoes of earlier wars can be found in Penmorfa, 3 miles from Porthmadog, where the ancient little church has a memorial tablet to Sir John Owen, Royalist leader of the Second Civil War against Parliament in the 17th century. Condemned to death, he somehow secured a reprieve; report has it that he and his fellow prisoners were given the chance to draw lots, and that Sir John was fortunate. The Latin tribute eloquently records his courage and loyalty; and at least he had the satisfaction of living long enough to see the Restoration of Charles II.
About ½ mile South of Porthmadog is Borth-y-gest, a hamlet joined to Criccieth by a stretch of firm clear sand. It is an outstanding resort for bathing, trout and salmon fishing, sea fishing, and golf. Portmeirion is on the spit of land between the estuaries of the Dwyryd and Glaslyn.
With all their attractions, Tremadog and Porthmadog seem forced to renounce any claim to being the place from which Madoc, son of Owain of Gwynedd, sailed to discover America. Their origin is recent, though Borth-y-gest has been put forward as the harbour from which the l2th century prince set out for the fabled lands of the West. In 1584 the historian David Powel suggested the possibility that was supported by Thomas Howell in the 17th century and was turned into an epic poem by Southey in the 19th. Although efforts to find actual descendants of the Welsh colonists in America have all failed, the legend may hide a truth more interesting than itself. In recent years American scholars have become convinced of communication across the Atlantic far earlier than the voyages of Columbus; indeed, Turkish sources have revealed a chart of the eastern coasts of the two Americas said to be derived from Alexandrine sources and known to Columbus years before he set sail. The skills of early Mediterranean seamen were far greater than is generally realized; and recent archaeological research has shown a contact between Wales and the Mediterranean that persisted through the Middle Ages.
Nearby towns: Blaenau Ffestiniog, Criccieth, Harlech, Nefyn
Nearby villages: Beddgelert, Betws Garmon, Bryncir, Chwilog, Clynnog Fawr, Ffestiniog, Garndolbenmaen, Llanarmon, Llanbedr, Llandecwyn, Llandwrog, Llanenddwyn, Llanfair, Llanfrothen, Llangybi, Llanllyfni, Llanystumdwy, Maentwrog, Minffordd, Nantlle, Penrhyndeudreath, Penygroes, Pontllyfni, Portmeirion, Talsarnau, Tan-y-Bwlch, Tanygrisiau, Trawsfynydd, Tremadog
Have you decided to visit Porthmadog or the surrounding villages? Please look above for somewhere to stay in:
- a Porthmadog bed and breakfast (a Porthmadog B&B or Porthmadog b and b)
- a Porthmadog guesthouse
- a Porthmadog hotel (or motel)
- a Porthmadog self-catering establishment, or
- other Porthmadog accommodation