Discover magic and myth in an enchanted land
The beautiful Dyffryn Nantlle, or Nantlle Valley, is a place where the distant historical past blends seamlessly with ancient Celtic myth and folklore. Nantlle, originally spelt Nantlleu, is said to take its name from Lleu Llaw Gyffes, a prominent figure from the fourth branch of the Mabinogi. This prose romance is believed to have been written in the 11th or 12th century, but its tales of legendary Celtic heroes and deities are thought to reach much further back, to the very heart of the ancient mythology of the British Isles.
In the story Math fab Mathonwy, ruler of Gwynedd, is tricked by Gwydion the Enchanter into fathering two sons with Gwydion's sister Arianrhod. One of these sons is named Lleu Llaw Gyffes (‘Bright Deft Hand’). Lleu Llaw Gyffes swears an oath that he will never marry a woman of any race living on Earth, and so Gwydion and Math create a beautiful wife for him from oak, broom and meadowsweet and name her Blodeuwedd. She in turn falls in love with a hunter called Gronw Pebr and they plot to kill Lleu who, though wounded, transforms himself into an eagle and escapes.
Much of this takes place around Dyffryn Nantlle. Caer Engan, near the village of Llanllyfni, is thought by some to be the site of Caer Dathyl, the court of Math fab Mathonwy. Meanwhile Baladeulyn, on the shores of Llyn Nantlle Uchaf, is said to be the place ‘rwng deu lenn’ (between two lakes) where Gwydion finds Lleu Llaw Gyffes transformed into an eagle.
Nantlle Valley Website
- Accessible by Public Transport
- Good Walks Nearby
B4418 Penygroes to Rhyd Ddu
Bangor - 17 miles, Porthmadog - 15 miles
Talysarn bus stop
Cycle track from Penygroes to Talysarn
Full Grid Reference Number(Nantlle Lake): SH 505535
OS Landranger map sheet: 115
- Dyffryn Nantlle and the Mabinogi, Dyffryn Nantlle