We departed on a last minute, hastily planned circular walk in Snowdonia last weekend. Not knowing much about the area, we discovered a history of horrors.
Friday night, last minute messaging between Sarah, And (Andrew) and myself over Facebook messenger. It can be super stressy finding something that caters for everyone. Our last one was Tryfan which was a big deal, tough and scary. We’ve been wandering around the Glyderau for a few months now and it was definitely time for a change and maybe something less of a scramble.
We picked a circular route (no one likes walking back on themselves right?) on the eastern side of the Carneddau. We last walked the Carneddau over a year ago, it’s a stunning area. It feels so different to the Glyders. It feels simpler and I feel a little more relaxed out there. The landscape is more sparse, barren, wider but interspersed with huge hills, the occasional jagged ridge that outline lakes and reservoirs.
The walk starts at the small car park that many use to start bigger Carnedd Llewelyn walks at the end of a longish single track road coming out of Tal-y-bont just south of Conwy. It’s a pretty self showing track that heads around the initial ridge and up the back of it towards the first lake stop of Melynllyn.
It’s a well trodden route, we saw a few other people out with dogs heading the same way. There are great views from the get go, firstly looking down Dulyn valley and secondly uptowards the rocky crags of Craig y Dulyn and Craig Fawr. It took us roughly an hour or so to reach Melynllyn where we sat and ate our picnic. The kids chucked rocks in the lake and we batted away the occasional midge.
From Melynllyn we headed towards the Dulyn Reservoir, not far but a steep set of rocky steps down towards it. The best views are at this point, straight down the valley, blue skies and orange/brown tundra. A good place to get a view of the black/dark brown waters of Dulyn, quite a foreboding sight (for more reasons than we first realised – see below)
We chilled out here again, the kids and Sarah climbed the huge boulder there, I flew the drone briefly and finished off the coffee. The reservoir provides water to Llandudno and beyond, it only seems small at first glance but it expands around to the right and infact is 58m+ deep!? The sun shone, it feels like this winter has been so long, it was so, SO great to be out in the sunshine.
We finished our walk with a slightly troublesome and boggy route back along the opposite side to the valley we walked in on. Again afforded great views, but the path is hard to follow and we used the OS app to help us get back on the path from time to time. We stopped briefly in the first Bothy I’ve ever been to, Dulyn Bothy, a small two roomed stone building to shelter from the weather from. The kids said it smelt funny 😉
We returned home in golden sunsetty sunshine (that’s a thing) and reflected on the walk and in particular the Dulyn Lake. Here’s where things get a little squiffy.
The History of Llyn Dulyn
When we arrived at the second lake we spotted what looked like a propeller in the water, near the lakeside, shallow.
It was bent and looked liked it had been in there a while, we kind of shrugged it off though as maybe something hydroelectical. The hut lakeside had a power company logo on it so we just assumed it was old machinary left in there.
A quick google when we got back revealed otherwise though.
Llyn Dulyn translates to “Black Lake” and there are a variety of superstitions attached to the lake and the cwm it’s in, that have then been solidified by a series of air crashes within the area.
The propellor IS from an aeroplane. A Douglas Dakota C-47B belonging to the USAAF, it was diverted from its route due to bad weather and flew straight into the cliff, killing 4 people on board and plunging the wreckage into Dulyn. Some of the wreckage was recovered, including a tail fin that is was then displayed at Perch Rock in New Brighton, Wirral. Further reading detailed 10-20 other air crashes in the local area. We thought that various pieces of metal lying around the route was that of old quarry works or similar but it turns out that a few of these pieces belong to various other small aircraft that have crashed there too causing a large loss of life.
The creepiness continues as I dug further into the history of the lake. Various stories of horrors that have haunted the lake.
Some folklore states that…
“There is a lake in the mountains of Snowdon, called Dulyn, in a rugged valley, encircled by high steep rocks. This lake is extremely black, and its fish are deformed and unsightly, having large heads and small bodies. No wild swans are ever seen alighting upon it (such as are on all the other lakes in Snowdon), nor ducks, nor any bird whatever. And there is a causeway of stones leading into this lake; and if any one goes along this causeway, even when it is hot sunshine, and throws water so as to wet the furthest stone, which is called the Red Altar [yr Allawr Goch], it is a chance if it do not rain before night.”
Witness, T. Prys, of Plas Iolyn, and Sion Davydd, of Rhiwlas, in Llan Silin.”
This is mentioned in Lady Guest’s version of the Mabinogion, online at the Sacred Texts Archive (p77).
“This black lake is supposed to be an extinct and fathomless volcano, and shepherds in the surrounding mountains used to say that the appearance of a dove near those black and fateful waters foretokened the descent of a beautiful but wicked woman’s soul to torment in the underworld.
In the seventeenth century people believed that if anybody had the courage on one of the “three-spirit nights” to watch beside Llyn Dulyn he would see who were to die within the next twelve months. Fiends would arise from the lake and drag those who had led evil lives into the black waters. Those who had led good lives would be guided past the causeway leading to the lake, and vanish in spirit forms robed in white. A reputed witch disappeared from the district, and a shepherd said he saw her being dragged into the black waters”
A lot of this is found in The Mabinogion, some of the earliest prose stories in Britain.
So yea, what a crazy little trip in hindsight. Beautiful, stunning surrounding steeped in history and folklore.
It’s definitely given us something to talk about, the kids have been non stop screaming about THE BLACK LAKE since we came back and now I want to read into all the history around the Carneddau.
Thanks for reading all the way to the end. I know it was a long one 🙂 Really appreciate it. 🙂
PS. While you’re here, I found this awesome photographer/wildswimmer who visited Dulyn. She’s worth a look…