Nov 11

St. Peter, St. Märgen

First advent Sunday, sunny but cold with fierce wind – we decided to go for a mellow trip. There are two monasteries near Freiburg, in beautiful locations in the midst of Black Forest hills. We first visited Sankt Peter, which was pretty but the service was in full blow (and no, we did not think of it ahead), so we could not really admire the insides, and the historical library was closed already. Outside there was not much to do (did I mention the awful biting wind?).

St Peter

Between St Peter and St Margen

So soon enough we were on our way to Sankt Märgen. They had a christmas market going on, on which I got a pretty little heart-shaped decoration for our wall. We also checked the surroundings and the horse, and called it quits (I mentioned the arctic wind, right?)

Sankt Märgen

Sankt Märgen

Sankt Märgen

Nov 11

Llyn y Dywarchen

Llyn y Dywarchen

Llyn Y Dywarchen; ‘The lake of the Turf Island, is a lake steeped in myth and legends. It’s a small lake, located above the village of Drws y Coed, in Dyffryn Nantlle, which sits between Y Garn and Mynydd Mawr which rises sharply at either end of the shores.

As mentioned in the ‘Llyn Bwlch y Moch‘ post, in the 19th century the lake was extended by building a wall on the South side of the lake, and also, the direction of the river flowing out of the lake has been changed, from flowing down the River Llyfni into Dyffryn Nantlle, to now, flowing into the Afon Gwyrfai, and into Llyn y Gadair – just behind Rhyd Ddu.

It’s the lake that Gerallt Gymro (Geraldus Cambrensis – an early historian) described when he wrote about a floating island on a lake, as he and his party passed the lake on the way to Caernarfon, while they were enlisting men for Third Crusade in 1188AD. The floating island was either made of turf, or a slab of peat that broke away from the mainland, or detached itself from the bottom of the lake and floated to the surface, and was being kept afloat by the gasses, such as methane  that came out of the marshlands. He noted that farm animals would often be seen marooned on the island, as they would walk on the island while it was resting on the shore, and it would suddenly drift off.  The scientist Edmond Halley (of the comet fame) confirmed that the island was indeed floating, as surrounded by on-lookers, he swam out to the lake, and started rowing – to which the lake floated along! But, unfortunately, the Island we see in the lake today, isn’t the famous floating Island.

There are many legends surrounding the shores of Llyn y Dywarchen. This is the land of the ‘Tylwyth Teg or the little people. As the Legend goes, a young man was returning home to Drws y Coed from Beddgelert, on a bright moonlit night, and came across a number of ladies known as the Tylwyth Teg, who were going about their nightly tradition of dancing and frolicking. Charmed by the beauty of the Ladies, he fell in love with one, and leaped out into their circle, and stole one of the Tylwyth Teg and wanted her to be his wife. She refused, but became his maid instead, but if he found out her name, she would marry him. He heard the other ‘fairies’ talking about her one evening using her name, so she married her with a warning not to touch her with iron. Unfortunately, while attending to his horse one day, an Iron buckle from the saddle touched the Tylwyth Teg, which in a blink of an eye, caused his beloved to disappear for ever.

Another short legend from the lake, is about another man who spotted the Tylwyth Teg one evening, going about their nightly frolics, and invited the man to join them. They danced away, resulting in the man being transported away to a beautiful country, from which it took 7 years to return.

I don’t know much about the old building which once stood where the car park to the lake is now, as I can’t seem to find any information about it online.

Nov 11

Llyn Bwlch y Moch, Drws y Coed

Llyn Bwlch Y Moch

Tucked away, North of Llyn y Dywarchen, contouring around Clogwyn y Garreg, now lies a strip of marsh lands. Older maps, dating back to the nineteenth century also show a similar site of marsh lands at Bwlch y Moch, but as recently as 1962 – Ordnance Survey maps showes a lake at Bwlch y Moch – Llyn Bwlch y Moch.

The secret to this mysterious lake, can be found if you examine the head and foot of Llyn y Dywarchen, you can see that man is responsible for the lake. Llyn y Dywarchen rests at the natural watershed between Llyn Cwellyn and Llyn Nantlle.

From different books and articles I’ve read – it sounds like the marsh lands which are now Llyn Bwlch y Moch was the natural soak away for Llyn y Dywarchen, which took the water down the Nantlle Valley – flowing mightily on the Afon Llyfni into Llyn Nantlle below.

Then, two damns were built on Llyn y Dywarchen, closing the flow altogether into Cwm Bwlch y Moch – which raised the water level at Llyn y Dywarchen. With the exit into Llyn Bwlch y Moch closed, the flow changed direction into the Cwellyn system, through an artificial water channel – which altered the direction to which it used to flow, which is now South to Llyn y Gadair, just by Rhyd Ddu.

By the North head damn of Llyn y Dywarchen, lies a ruin of an old cottage and some weathered looking Sycamore trees – which could be the reason to the naming of the Cwm (cirque) – as the ruined cottage’s outhouse has a wall with a low aperture, which suggests that Pigs might once have been living here? (Moch = Pigs in Welsh) Another reason might be that Clogwyn-y-Garreg, the crag that overlooks the Cwm looks like the profile of a Pig when viewed from Cwm Nantlle below? Or it might refer to our Welsh prose stories, Mabinogion, where a boar guides Gwydion to Nantlle in search of Lleu?

At the Northern foot of the lake, there’s evidence that the lake once was very important in supplying the old copper-works located below in Drws y Coed, as there is a great stone damn. (Evident in the first picture as a straight line at the end of the  lake) The center of the damn has now been dismantled, to ensure that the lake doesn’t fill up again, which is a shame, as I think this peaceful spot, hidden away from the road would be a fantastic stretch of water.

So, this damn explains why the first Ordnance Survey maps didn’t show any lake at this spot – the lake only existed after the damn was build in around 1840 – to serve the copper mines below, and was still a lake according to the Ordnance Survey maps until 1962, long after the closure of the mines, and after breaching the damn again, sometime after 1962, the lake was drained again, and left to be the marsh lands that we see today.

Dad knows the farmer that lives in the farm directly below the damn, he’s going to enquire more from the farmer about the lake and it’s history for me, so I shall update this page in the future!