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CHAPTER IX.

CAERNARVON TO LLANBERIS.

(Ten Miles.)

Road— Cwm y CloVale of LlanberisLakes— Margaret Uch Evan

Dilbadarn Castle-Slate Quarry-Caunant Mawr_Copper MineVillage of Llanberis.

The road from Caernarvon to Llanberis, the Church of Peris, a village about ten miles distant, is, for the first four miles, flat and uninteresting; but by the time these are passed, the stranger is fully prepared for the beautiful scene about to present itself. At the further distance of about a mile and a quarter commences the lower lake of Llanberis. The vale at the foot of this lake is called

CWM Y CLO,

The vale of the eminence, from the insulated rock that forms one side of it, on which the Britons had a strong hold called Caer Cwm y Clo.

From the top of this eminence, there is an extensive and a most lovely prospect. Towards Llanberis the vale and the lakes are seen bounded on each side by their lofty and precipitous rocks-on the right is Snowdon, the broadest

* At the village of Llanberis there is no accommodation for travellers ; but at Dôlbadarn, about two miles on the Caernarvon side of Llanberis, there is a capacious and excellent inn called the Royal Victoria Hotel, and another upon a smaller scale called the Dolbadarn Arms.

VALE OF LLANBERIS-MARGARET UCH EVAN.

113

and most tremendous of the group-on the opposite side of the vale are Llider Fawr and Glyder Fawr. The narrow isthmus that separates the lakes, and the insulated rock on its right bank with the remains of Dôlbadarn tower, form distinct features in this interesting scene, and the workmen's cottages scattered in every direction have an enlivening and pleasing effect. The intervening space between the lake and the eminence is occupied by a dreary extent of moor, through which the river Seiont extends, whilst in the direction opposite to Llanberis may be seen the sea and the island of Anglesea.

VALE OF LLANBERIS.

The entrance into the vale of Llanberis from the bottom of the lower lake is exceedingly grand and romantic. The mountains arrange themselves in the most beautiful manner imaginable. · Snowdon, with its deep and perpendicular precipice and summits, forms an immense mass of mountain, which constitutes the principal feature in the scene. The lake, the round tower of Dôlbadarn, the distant vale and mountains, and on the other side the huge rock of Glyder Fawr, lend each its characteristic to heighten the effect of the whole.

The vale of Llanberis is nearly straight, and of no great width throughout. It contains two small lakes. The upper is about a mile in length, and rather less than half a mile across; the lower somewhat larger. These are separated by a small neck of land, but have a communication by a stream which runs from one into the other. On the left hand side of the bottom of the lower lake is a cottage once inhabited by

MARGARET UCH EVAN.

Few females in this country have attained so great celebrity as Margaret. Being passionately fond of the sports of the chace, she kept a great number of all the various kinds of dogs used in this pursuit. She is said to have destroyed more foxes in one year than all the confederate hunts did in ten. She rowed well; and could play both on the harp and the fiddle. Margaret was also an excellent joiner; and, at the age of seventy, was the best wrestler in the country. She was likewise a good blacksmith, shoemaker, and boatbuilder. She shod her own horses, made her own shoes, and, while she was under contract to convey the ore from the Llanberis copper mine, down the lakes, she built her own boats. This wonderful female died about fifty years ago at the advanced age of ninety-two.

DÔLBADARN CASTLE. On a rocky eminence between the two pools stands the old tower of Dólbadarn Castle. This is about nine yards in its inner diameter, and, with a few shattered remains of walls and offices, occupies the entire summit of the steep. Its name of Castell Dôlbadarn, the Castle of Padarn's Meadow, is supposed to have originated in its having been erected on the verge of a piece of ground called Padarn's Meadow, to which a holy recluse of that name retired from the world, to enjoy religious meditation and solitude.

Dôlbadarn Castle very evidently appears, from its construction, to have been of British origin. It was built, no doubt, to defend the narrow pass through the vale into the interior of the mountains; and, from its situation, it seems to have been capable of affording perfect security to two or three hundred persons in cases of emergency. In this castle it was that Owen Goch, Owen the Red, was confined by his brother Llewelyn ap Iorwerth, Prince of Wales, upwards of twenty years, for having attempted to

SLATE QUARRY-CAUNANT MAWR-COPPER MINE.

115

excite an insurrection among the people, injurious to his rights and dignity. It has been long in ruins, for Leland mentions it in his time as only a "piece of a tower."*

SLATE QUARRY.

In the mountain on the opposite of the lake, called Allt Dû, the black cliff, there is a large slate quarry belonging to Thomas Asheton Smith, Esq.

CAUNANT MAWR.

About half a mile south of the castle, at the end of a long and deep glen, there is a tremendous cataract called Caunant Mawr, the waterfall of the great chasm. It is upwards of sixty feet in height and is formed by the mountain torrent from Cwm Brwynog. This rushes through a cleft in the rock above, and after proceeding for a few yards in a direct line, suddenly takes a turn with a broad stratum of the rock, and thus descends aslant, with a thundering noise, into the deep black pool below.

COPPER MINE.

This work was commenced in the year 1791. The ore is brought in small waggons to the mouth of the mine, where it is broken into small pieces with hammers. It is then sorted, and the best and smallest piece taken out, and conveyed in boats down the lakes whence, it is carted to the Menai, where a vessel is ready to carry it to Glamorganshire, to be smelted and wrought into copper. The larger fragments are conveyed to a stamping mill on the opposite side of the lake, where they are crushed into powder. The proprietors have some pits for the corrosion of iron as in the Parys mines.

* Leland's Itin. v. 44. It is highly probable that this was anciently called Bere Castle (a corruption probably of Peris or Beris Castle) which some of the historia os relate to have been in Caernarvonshire, seated in the midst of a morass, inaccessible but by a single causeway, and not to be approached except through the narrow and rugged defiles of the mountains. About the 13th cen

as esteemed the strongest castle that the Welsh possessed in tbis part of the country.

tury, it

THE VILLAGE OF LLANBERIS

Is situated in a narrow grassy dell, surrounded by immense rocks. “ Nature has here” (says Camden, speaking of these parts of Caernarvonshire) “ reared huge groups of mountains, as if she meant to bind the island fast to the bowels of the earth, and make a safe retreat for the Britons in time of war. For here are so many crags and rocks, so many wooded vallies rendered impassable by so many lakes, that the lightest troops, much less an army, could never find their way among them. These mountains may be truly called the British Alps; for besides that they are the highest in the whole island, they are, like the Alps, bespread with broken crags on every side, all surrounding one, which, towering in the centre far above the rest, lifts its head so loftily, as if it meant not only to threaten, but to thrust it into the sky."

All the parts immediately surrounding the village were formerly covered with wood; but except some saplings from the old roots, there are at present very few trees left. In the memory of persons now living, there were great woods of oak in several different parts about these mountains. In the 10th century the whole country must have been nearly covered with wood, for one of the laws of Howel Dda, Howell the Good, directs that " whoever cleared away timber from any land, even without the consent of the owner, he should, for five years, have a right to the land so cleared ; and after that time it should revert to the owner.”

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