To celebrate St. David’s Day this year, and the many eisteddfodau happening across Wales, we thought we might inspire you to ‘get exploring’ this half-term with three walks in locations steeped in Welsh history, myth and legend.
Where King Arthur’s men buried Rhitta the Giant
If you need a mythical excuse to climb Snowdon, King Arthur reputedly killed the mountain’s most famous resident - Rhitta, a fearsome giant who created a cape for himself out of the beards of his enemies. His corpse was covered in huge stones by Arthur’s men at the summit of the mountain.
Climbing Snowdon should not be undertaken lightly. True it is a busy mountain with a choice of trails for different abilities, it even has a handy railway right to the top and a visitor’s centre and cafe on the summit, but it can still pack a punch for the ill-prepared. Expect the weather to change, potentially several times. On my last visit, the glorious summer sunshine turned to driving rain and fog just before the summit, with me in shorts and a very grumpy toddler on my back. We evacuated the children down the railway with grandma for a hot chocolate, just before the sky cleared and we had perfect panoramic vistas from the summit, or rather, Rhitta’s Tomb. Take your phone just in case, and get a good protective case, just in case! Charge your phone before you go and close all those battery-hungry apps, except possibly a good GPS app like ViewRanger…
2. Cader Idris
More giant tales than you can throw a rock at.
Cadair (or Cader) Idris is one of Wales’s most iconic mountains. It is about 893m in height, standing at the southern gate of Snowdonia, overlooking Dolgellau. The three peaks are Pen y Gadair (Head of the Chair), Cyfrwy (the Saddle) and Mynydd Moel (the Bare Mountain). There are numerous stories and legends associated with this mountain and Idris, the giant who’s seat it supposedly is. Idris appears in many guises in the Welsh tradition – as giant, prince and astronomer.
One of the tales told of the giant, is that sitting on his great chair one day, he felt pieces of grit inside his shoes which he removed and cast down the mountainside. The three large stones that rest at the foot of the mountain are said to be those annoying pieces of grit. Another tale tells of Idris throwing pieces of grit across the area. One of these pieces – a significant sized rock landed in Aberllefenni, another in Rhydymain and the third in Abergeirw.
Traditionally less crowded than the Snowdon Massif, be sure to check weather forecasts and make sure you have a map or good GPS app on your mobile. Getting lost here is no fun!
3. The Lady of the Lake
Hidden in the western range of the Brecon Beacons
The 14th century Red Book of Hergest, one of the most ancient manuscript volumes in existence, contains a tale of a local farmer and a beautiful magical woman, which begins beside Llyn-y-Fan Fach, the lake below the peak of Black Mountain in the west of the Brecon Beacons National Park. The same tale is recorded in Mabinogion, a collection of Welsh folktales that date back to medieval times.
Some believe that the myth of Llyn-y-Fan Fach gave rise to another famous tale – the Arthurian legend of the Lady of the Lake and Excalibur.
This is the walk that claimed my first phone screen, having fumbled the handset taking the photo above, and dropped the phone face down onto the rocky path. If this tale sounds all too familiar, grab an Energizer phone case and screen protector from your local Get Connected mobile phone shop.
Get Ready to Explore Wales
Taking your smart phone out for a hike is a great idea. It allows you to have a map, up to date weather forecasts, compass, torch and camera at your fingertips. Protect your phone with a good case and screen protector, and don’t rely on the built-in maps for accurate directions when off the beaten track. Pop in to your nearest Get Connected store and we can help you get your phone set up ready for exploring the legends of Wales.