Awe-inspiring beauty surrounds Beddgelert, making it one of the most memorable villages in Britain. Set at the meeting point of two rivers, the Glaswyn and the Colwyn, Beddgelert nestles in the heart of a majestic landscape with the Snowdon range rising steeply to the north and the craggy Moel Hebog (2569ft), to the west. The steep slopes are covered by a rich assortment of trees, undergrowth and bracken, giving the landscape an ever-changing range of colours and textures.
As if Beddgelert’s natural beauty was not enough, an 18th century innkeeper, keen to drum up more trade, invented a tragic story. A footpath beside the river leads to what is said to be the grave of Gelert, a dog owned by the 13th century prince Llywelyn the Great. The prince left Gelert to protect his baby son whilst he went hunting, but on his return, he found Gelert covered in blood and his son missing. Fearing the worst, Llywelyn instantly slayed the dog. On hearing a baby’s cry, Llywelyn immediately realised that he had mistakenly killed his faithful hound, especially when he discovered the body of a wolf that Gelert had killed protecting the prince’s son.
Beddgelert does indeed mean “Gelert’s Grave”, but is thought to be named after the resting place of a founding monk from the 6th century. The early Christian settlement grew and in the 13th century the Welsh princes gave money for the construction of a stone-built Augustinian priory, the remains of which can still be seen.
Nowadays, the village comprises a cluster of grey stone buildings, a much photographed stone bridge, hostelries, shops and dwellings. Centrally situated, Llywelyn’s cottage, a former farmhouse, dates from the 16th century and now houses the National Trust shop and exhibition. Most of the village dates from the nineteenth century. The residents of Beddgelert take a particular interest in their village, enhancing it with floral displays and well kept amenities, their efforts recognised over the years with many prestigious national awards. Beddgelert is an enchanting place, popular with visitors and ideal for mooching about.
For those with more energy, Beddgelert is the starting point for a walk along the Aberglaslyn Gorge. The path follows the clear river, as it tumbles over boulders through the sheer cliffs of the picturesque, wooded valley. The route is shared with the track bed for the Welsh Highland Railway. Plans are afoot to restore the tracks, renovate the tunnels and once again travel through the gorge on steam trains, with Beddgelert and Rhyd Ddu being their eventual destination.
The A498 follows the Nant Gwynant Pass, from Beddgelert, towards the Llanberis Pass, alongside Mount Snowdon. The dramatic scenery includes waterfalls and two idyllic lakes, Llyn Dinas and Llyn Gwynant. Attractions include the Sygun Copper Mine and the National Trust’s Craflwyn Gardens, currently being restored. Nearby is Dinas Emrys, a rocky outcrop and the site for fortress builders for many centuries. Dinas Emrys is also the legendary birthplace of the red dragon symbol of Wales and the hideaway retreat of Vortigern.