"Aberdaron"

The first tourist guide

(circa 1910)

Welsh Lands End    How to get there?     Public buildings    The Saint's Well    The Court   Exchequer   Anelog Chapel 

St. Mary's Church   St. Mary's Well    Odo's Chapel   Walks and other trips   Botanic and Geological    General Directory

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A remote position at the Welsh " Lands End," or as Ptolemy called it " Promontorium Langanum amidst the most romantic and beautiful scenery in North West Wales, commanding extensive sea and mountain views, together with its many and various facilities of access by road, sea and vehicle, combine to give Aberdaron those advantages which make it a holiday centre and health resort of considerable and increasing popularity. This antique village, situated as it is facing the broad "Cardigan Bay, is in such position as to obtain the full benefit of the salubrious sea and mountain breezes. Looking landwards from the ocean, its sea-frontage of alternate gently sloping land and abruptly rocks dipping perpendicularly into the sea is picturesque to behold, (fazing southwards on a clear day from upon one of these headlands, one can discern a vast stretch of the Cardigan coast right down to that headland named after the patron saint of Wales, David, which is situated on the extreme North West of Pembrokeshire; while in the background is beheld a gradual elevation culminating in the Snowdonian Range, which formed for the Welsh of the 13th century, their last stronghold against the invading forces of King Edward 1. Railway facilities to the nearest railway town of Pwllheli, 17 miles distant, are excellent, while the delightful and exhilarating drive onwards to this secluded spot, "far from the madd'ing crowd," is most enjoyable, thus enabling the visitor to come with very little fatigue to this delightful spot of mountain and valley, stream and sea.

 

The following are some of the railway routes by which Pwllheli may be reached from the chief English Towns.

One -By the L & N. W. Railway via Chester and Bangor to Afonwen, thence by the Cambrian Railway to Pwllheli. On this route the following may be seen, The Menai and Conway Suspension Bridges, The Conway and Menai Tubular Bridges, and Conway and Carnarvon Castles.

Two - the L- & N- W- Railway via Chester and Llandudno Junction and up the Conway and Lledr Valleys through Llanrwst, Bettws-y-coed, and Dolwyddelan with its old British Castle to Blaenau Festiniog world famous for its Slate Quarries thence down the Festiniog or Toy Railway through the romantic Maentwrog Vale, and over Madoc Embankment to Portmadoc, and thence with the Cambrian Railway through Criccieth with its quaint Castle to Pwllheli.

Three -By the L. & N. W. Railway via Shrewsbury and Welshpool, thence by the Cambrian Railway along the Cardigan Coast through the pretty watering-place of Barmouth, which according to H.R.H. Princess Beatrice after her visit in 1889, as "That beautiful place which I can never forget," then onwards through Harlech with its frowning castle, to Portmadoc, and on to Pwllheli.

Four -By the G. W. Railway via Shrewsbury and Ruabon through the famous Llangollen Vale, afterwards along Bala Lake, the largest lake in England and Wales and through to Dolgelley; and onwards to Barmouth Junction with the Cambrian Railway, continuing the journey with the same railway line along the coast of Cardigan Bay to Pwllheli. The first impressions of the tourist, as he descends one of the steep hills leading to the village which nestles at their bottom, are, that it has no pretence at all to any style, being a straggling medley of very old-fashioned and recently built houses, with no system at all to well-laid out streets and parapets.

The substantial and plain bridge of two spans running respectively in a westerly and southerly direction erected in 1823 over the river Daron, from which the village has taken its name, forcibly strikes the attention of visitors as they stroll through this holiday retreat; and further one's curiosity is aroused as to what probable stirring scenes this primitive village may have witnessed in times gone by, when the quaint mile-stone, at the corner of one of the bridge spans with its antique method of recording distances, is discerned.

The village's public buildings are such that they cannot claim any particular attention as regards their style of architecture, the Parish Church excepted, which however has some interesting features. This venerable edifice with its old Norman arch above the door, is justly termed "The Cathedral of Lleyn" It consists of two naves, and is dedicated to St. Hywyn, a British Saint of the 6th century. Tradition states that when this old saint was Bishop of Bardsey, he established a chapel of ease on the site of the present building, in which the pilgrims, who were on their way to the above island to end their last days in peace and seclusion, could attend to their devotions. To further bear proof of its antiquity, history states that when Griffith ap Conan escaped from his chains in Chester Castle, he took sanctuary in Aberdaron Church whose Monks further aided him to escape from the vengeance of Hugh the Wolf, Baron of Chester, by taking him over to Ireland. Again in 1115, it is stated that Griffith ap Rhys, Prince of South Wales, also took sanctuary here from the treachery of Griffith ap Conan, sovereign of North Wales, who intended to deliver him into the hands of the English monarch Henry Griffith ap Conan commanded the fugitive Prince to be dragged from his place of refuge by force, but his soldiers were unable to execute his orders from the strenuous resistance of the clergy of the neighbourhood, who success fully exerted themselves in defence of the principles of the church.   The young Prince with his partisans escaped by night and set forth on his journey to the deep forest of Ystrad Towy in South Wales. In course of time, through neglect and decay, the old church became a sad spectacle to behold, and as much further wanton damage was done to it during the time the Circulating and National Schools were held in one of its naves, it became necessary to erect another church in the vicinity to conduct divine services. However it grieved the hearts of several earnest church people to see the old church in the state it was, and about five years ago, HEADED BY THE GENEROUS AND BENEVOLENT LADY MRS CARREG OF CARREG PLAS, funds were raised, thereby enabling the Restoration Committee to renovate it, as seen at the present day Within the pale of the church, lying among the silent dead, are several graves of the illustrious Carreg family, while here and there dotting this God's acre, may be seen several monumental works of art with suitable inscriptions upon them, testifying to the departed lives of those beneath. The other church just mentioned, commonly known as the New Church, is within ten minutes walk from the village.  This edifice, a somber looking building with two towers at its western end, was erected in 1841, but possesses not the grandeur which pertains to the old Parish Church In this New Church, the Sunday morning divine service is conducted, while the Sunday School and evening service are conducted within that of St. Hywyn. The remaining public buildings, which have no pretence to any architectural style, are well-built and commodious.   They are connected with the different Non-conformist bodies, and are respectively Deunant and Uwchmynydd being Calvinistic Methodist; Salem and Horeb being Wesleyan; and Cephas being Independent; while Carmel is Baptist. The extensive alterations, carried out by the County Council in 1909 on the elementary school at Deunant, situated at about five minutes walk from the village-have completely changed the appearance of that establishment which now will very favourably compare with that of any town school. Great strides have in late years been made to comfortably accommodate and cater at very reasonable prices any visitor that pays Aberdaron either a short or lengthy stay. Suitable hostelries being the Ty Newydd Hotel, Ship Hotel, Bell Field Temperance, Minafon, Dwyros (farm) and Ysgubor Bach (farm). Farmers, farm labourers and fishers are the general occupations by which the inhabitants earn their livelihood. It is however stated that excellent mineral wealth in the form of sett stone, jasper, china clay and manganese is contained in the surrounding headlands; and on several occasions, English companies have been floated to develop the same, but the difficulty to profitably export the products raised, have caused the ventures to be unsuccessful.  Similar tales as are contained in the Bible about the Wise men of Gotham " are often expressed about the so called "Simple Folk of Aberdaron." Let this be granted the district however is associated with several geniuses notably among them being Richard Robert Jones, (Dic Aberdaron) an eccentric scholar and linguist, whose pro-ncency in 15 languages brought him, ragged and uncultured as he was, into distinguished company, and is buried at St. Asaph; while delightful hours will be spent in perusing the immortal verses of such poets as Hugh Bodwrdda; Lewis Daron, Gwilym ap Gwilym, Shion Evan Pwlldefaid,

It seems incredible that centuries ago this village was situated about two miles from the sea which has by now encroached upon the coast, and threatens to eventually engulf the whole land where on it is situated To substantiate this, fact, an examination of the headland to the south-west of the village, which being of a clayey nature, shows un-mistakable proofs of crumbling down through the action of the sea and weather. Again, the two islands-Gulls Islands-which lie far out in the bay are of the same geological strata as that of the rocks which form the head-lands between which the village lies, thereby further supporting and Strengthening the theory of their being- once part of the mainland, but becoming detached in course of ages to form islands, through the action of the sea beyond, Bathing is absolutely safe on the foreshore at all times, and the slope of the beach is of the gradient so desirable and pleasing to bathers.  The tide "never goes out far, and the bathing ground is quite covered at each high tide, thus adding to the purity and enjoyment of the bathing, as no part of the beach remains for a long period unwashed by the sea. In boating, rowing and sailing can be enjoyed in perfect safety by old and young. The proprietors are all experienced seamen, and their charges are reasonable. The delight of anglers in piscatorial amusement is here fully satisfied either in the sea or rivers. The waters of the two streams, which flow onwards towards the village are open to anglers, and abound in trout, Mackerel, gurnet, rockfish, are plentiful in the bay, and fishing either from the cliffs or from boats, which can be hired, can be indulged in, and the boat proprietors will gladly give necessary advice at all times, and supply bait. Tennis and cricket can be fully gratified to one's hearts desire on the firm sands at ebb tide, while as for cycling and motoring the tourist will have the great advantages of good roads and fine scenery at hand. Historic houses, wells and other remains of bye-gone ages affording sufficient food' for reflection, abound in the neighbourhood. A short account about a few of the many there are, may prove interesting, and reference to the plan of the neighbourhood roughly indicates their position.

Ffynon Saint. (The Saint's Well.)

This well is situated just in front of Minafon. Its crystal waters are reckoned according to the analysis made of them by Dr. Eraser, M.D., B.Sc., the late medical sanitary inspector for the county, as the best and purest in the whole locality. The well is said to have received its name from the supposition, that on its banks, the old saints, who were wending their way onwards towards Bardsey Isle their ultimate haven of rest and refuge, ate their frugal meals washing the same down with its sparkling waters.

Cwrt. The Court.)

No remains of this old mansion are now seen inasmuch that when the present homestead, which bears the same name, was erected, the stones of the old building were used for that purpose. However,  one cannot, but link with the present building the importance that once pertained to the spot, wherein some remote Welsh Prince or other dealt justice among his subjects. The hill facing the farmhouse is known as Gallows Hill, where doubtless many a hapless, evil doer suffered the extreme penalty of the law, while within the last decade, ruins of the prison, in which offenders were incarcerated, were seen. The whole district around here is full of romantic interest. The creek or opening just below is known as Porth Neudwy or Forth Nawdd-dy (The haven of the House of Refuge). From here, the old saints sailed, so as to reach their destination, Bardsey Isle, after having spent the previous night or nights at a hospice near, though no ruins of this are now seen. To support this statement, a hill near by is called Bryn Paderau (The Hill of Prayer) whereon the brother-saints on land prayed for their safe journey, while another spot close by, is known as Pant Wylfa (The Weeping vale) where the old saints could no longer restrain their tears but sighed, waited and lamented for their departed brethren.

Seccar. (The Exchequer.)

This is doubtless a corruption of the English word  “Exchequer." As the name implies, here were all the dues paid to the then reigning Prince. At present, the massive butt walls only are seen, the roof having fallen in, and which testify to the solidity our ancestors erected their buildings.

Capel Anelog. (Anelog Chapel.)

No remains of this chapel of ease, which once nestled at the foot of that mountain, which bears the same name, are now seen. The secluded spot where once it stood, was doubtless an excellent retreat, to which the old saints could retire to worship their Creator in peace and solitude. In excavating around the old chapel's site, two gravestones bearing the following inscriptions were found, and which are now in the possession of Mrs. Col. Wynne Finch or Cefnamlwch.

 

MERACIUS

PBR

HIC

JACET

 

Which translated means " Merac the priest lies here."

SENACUS

PRSB

HIC JACET

CUM  MULTITUDINEM

 

Which translated means, " Senac, the priest lies here with a  

 

Eglwys Fair. (St. Mary's Church.) 

Distinct traces of the site of this old abbey are found in that hollow, which lies between those two great mountains, which terminate abruptly in that racing strait between Bardsey Isle and the mainland. When in its glory, it is stated to have been twelve yards long by five yards wide, not including the several dormitories that pertained to it. Doubtless, its purpose was to give hospitality to those pilgrims, who were wending their way to that holy Isle of Bardsey, therein to end their days peaceably.

Ffynnon Fair. (St. Mary's Well.)

The path, which wends its way towards this secluded well in the rugged rocks beneath, is found below the previously named St. Mary's Church. It is well worth visiting but extreme care must however be taken by everyone who undertakes the perilous descent. It is said that the well has the properties of purifying itself from all saline taste, even after the mighty billows of the briny ocean, during stormy weather, getting mingled with its waters. During the superstitious middle ages, it was believed, that whoever was able to bring up a draught of water from the holy well below, right up to the top of the headland above, would ensure the fulfillment of any wish, which the bearer might have in his heart. Lastly in this bygone blessed and sacred spot among nature's wilderness, it is sad to think how modern science has dispelled the popular myth, that the several indentations seen in the surrounding rocks have been caused, not by the hoofs of the Virgin Mary's horse when she rode it hither and thither among the crags, but through the action of the forces of nature.

Capel Odo. (Odo's Chapel.)

To all probability, the site of this old chapel erected to the memory of an old British saint, who came from France to this country to evangelise among our forefathers in the tenth century, is assumed to have been in a held pertaining to Moelfre Farm at the base of Ystum mountain. The hedge seen thereon is supposed to have been the boundary wall of the burial place, which usually accompanied all such places of worship. As to any remains of the old building itself, none are found, but the fact that human skeletons, within recent times, have been dug up from the surrounding soil substantiate the theory, that the old edifice was once situated here.

Odo's Grave, Samson's Stone, and Druidical Fortifications.

After ascending the hill at the base of which Odo's Church is supposed to have been, we come at the summit to the remains of a double circular fortification with a deep fosse 15 yards wide, between the inner and outer breastwork. Within the inner defence, there is a huge mound 14 yards by 5 yards, said to be the grave of the saint, to whose memory the church at the base of the hill was erected. Again, there may be seen here, a huge boulder standing on end, known as Samson's stone with notches thereon, which as legend states, were caused by the said Samson when he clutched the stone with his hand, and threw it hither from the top of Mynydd Mawr in Uwchmynydd.   Another story, which reads prettily regarding this stone is, that underneath it lies a pot of gold, but who-ever endeavors to gain the same will cause a terrific thunderstorm to suddenly burst upon the unwary fortune-seeker, thus causing him to discontinue his search. Iconoclasts have however shattered our most cherished illusions regarding this stone by their investigations and statements that this boulder is nothing more nor less than the remains of a cromlech, beneath which, some brave of olden times with all his treasures are interred.

Walks and other trips

In describing the walks in this guide, the object has not been to give a detailed description of every walk in the district as to select the favourite outings, and to indicate in the briefest possible manner, the best routes to the places of interest mentioned. In walking through cultivated fields the paths should for several reasons be strictly followed and if strangers will only keep in mind the maximum Respect other people's rights and property as you would your own they will find the tenants most willing and glad to contribute to their pleasure by giving any necessary information as to the routes to be followed. The village in all instances is given as the starting point, as all the described walks lead out of it.

To the Sett Quarry,

Taking the hill up past Bell Field Temperance, past the terrace at Pensarn and keeping to the left, we soon come to the cross roads at Minafon. Under the shelter of nestling among a clump of trees. It will repay one to deviate by taking the left just beyond this historic house, there by enabling one to inspect the Aberdaron Jasper Quarry Returning and resuming our way onwards we get past the big farm of Methlan, and soon come to quite a recently-built house, known as Penbonfc.  Here take the right, and still jogging along, we finally come to the New Church, and getting past its front, and then taking the turn on the right a little lower down, one soon again comes to the village. In this walk, if the visitor goes ahead after reaching Penhont, instead of taking the right, he will come to the district of Rhydliog, pass a chapel of the same name as well as the Church dedicated to St. Merin, a saint of the 6th century. At length, reaching a house and smithy on the left known as Fantol, and here, taking the highway to the right, which leads through the village of Rhoshirwaen, we ultimately by forging straight ahead, come at last to Aberdaron.

To Ystum Hills and Ruins thereon.

Our course for this stroll starts by taking the hill up past Pretoria Temperance Hotel. In due course, the Vicarage on the left, and Isfryn and Ty Mynydd on the right, are passed. After getting beyond these residences to the distance of a mile, that is, a distance of two miles from the village, and just opposite the mile-stone on the right, which indicates that distance, turn up at the very first farm on the left, known as Moelfre. At the base of the hill, as well as on its top for which the visitor makes his own tracks, he can view the various relics mentioned previously in this guide; while further, the superb scenery seen from thereon, will amply repay the trouble of the climb. To reach the village again, one does so by the way he came thither.

Pencaerau,

For this walk, take the hill up past the old Parish Church of St. Hywyn. Having gone a distance of about two miles, one will see nestling among a clump of trees down on the left, the big mansion and farm of Bodwrdda; which is reckoned as one of the largest farms in this end of Lleyn. Tradition states that the present building is erected on the site of a chapel-of-ease established by Durdan an old British Saint, who eventually ended his days in the Monastery at Bardsey. By and by, one comes to a grocer's and chemist's shop, which also serves as the Post Office for Pencaerau. Here, take the left and proceeding forward one in time comes to the Calvinistic Methodist Chapel of Saron on the right. We have now arrived on the Pwllheli main road, and sauntering along to the left, one in due time arrives in Aberdaron again.

To Rhiw Mountain and Hell's Mouth (Porth Neigwl).

Follow the same road as described in the previous walk as far as Pencaerau Post Office, then by continuing steadily on, Rhiw Mountain at last is reached, and to reach its summit, the visitor must find the best means for himself. Geologists affirm that this hill has once been a volcano, and is often likened to Vesuvius. On its side, there are to be seen the remains of an old British Fortress, while from its peak an extensive view is seen, such as the pretty and rising watering-place of Abersoch nestling at its base, as well as Pwllheli in the far distance. The wide inlet of the sea on the right of the mountain is known as Forth Neigwl or Hell's Mouth from it being so famous for its terrible storms, and is thereby compared to Scylla and Charybdis of the ancients. To return to Aberdaron. the visitor follows the way he came thither.

To Bardsey Isle.  (Ynys Enlli).

No visitor should leave Aberdaron without endeavouring to visit this island, but which is a matter of some difficulty, for wind and tide must be consulted, and sometimes the visitor is imprisoned there for days. The island is fun of interest for the antiquary, it having been for many centuries the Iona of Wales.   Notable among its several interesting features are the ruins of the mediaeval abbey of St. Mary the handsome monument 9 feet high erected to the memory of the 20,000 saints buried in the island, but as Fuller states" It would be easier to find graves in Bardsey for so many saints, than saints for so many graves." The monument erected to the memory of the late Lord Newborough; the lighthouse lit for the first time on Christmas Eve in 1821; as well as several holy wells, the most distinguished among them being Ffynon Bariau whose waters were used by the old saints as a mirror to tonsure their crowns, Ffynon Dalar to which all the elves and fairies of the country gathered once yearly to hold high revels, and Ffynon Dal Ysgwydd, at which according to legends, miracles were performed.

 

Botanic and Geological.

“ Blessed be God for flowers, for the bright, gentle, holy thoughts they breathe, From out their odorous beauty like a wreath of sunshine in life's hours." In the neighbourhood, the lover of Botany will find ample opportunity for indulging his taste.  The varied character of the surface, comprising sheltered riverbanks and exposed hillsides, as well as the hedges and ditches of the meadows and the wayside, is well calculated to yield him valuable and even rare botanical treasures. The following short list of plants, without being by any means exhaustive, will give an idea of what. the neighbourhood yields in this respect, and may be of use to our readers. The gentle showers and brighter sun of April and May bring many favourites to perfection-the primroses, cowslips and daffodils " That come before the swallow dares and take the winds of March with beauty." and are succeeded by the hyacinths their blue bells waving in the soft breeze delightful to the eye; the buttercups covering the meadows with their golden glory, and the scarlet poppies make bright, patches 'mid the corn. During the late summer, yellow is the prevailing tint, the St. John's Wort and the Yellow Wort are among the prettiest. By the rivers and running brooks bloom the mint, thyme, and the light and graceful harebells of which a poet writes : ( Are we not beautiful? are not we The darlings of mountain, and moorland and lea." As autumn advances, and the flowers pass away the beauty of summer still lingers in the berries to adorn the hedges. The scarlet fruit of the rose mingles with the darker red of the haws, and the purple clusters of the deadly nightshade while here and there, the woodbine and barberries may be found, and the trailing bryony wreathing many a bush with its large bright berries. A visit to this village will convince the most sceptical person, that it is one of the most picturesque places in the Principality, nature having been at its best to beautify the hillsides and fields, all of which abounding with trees of every description, help to give the hamlet a venerable appearance. The principal tree, no doubt, is the brave old oak which according to tradition takes a hundred years to grow, a hundred to live, and a hundred to die." We shall not tire our readers with details that are well known with regard to trees, but simply mention the names of the most common ones that are to be seen around the place. The Ash, a very marketable tree, if not so conspicuous with its leaves as others, is one on which the thrush delights to warble its sweet notes from its branches on a fine summer evening; the Willow sought after by basket-makers and the Weeping willow (Nature's Angel) which watches over the graves of the departed. Then there are the different Birches with their white bodies, which have acted the part of many an imaginary ghost; the Sweet Chestnut for eating and the Fir trees, which as a rule are planted close together so as to enable Game to thrive. The other trees which give the "finishing touch" to the scene, and in summer crown the panoramic view of the district are the Wild Apple and Black Beech, and the innumerable fruit trees, and when these wither, the Holly, Laurel, take their place during the winter months. To the geologist also this district affords no less, if not much more interest than to the botanist, as a ground for geological research of the mountains around Aberdaron, which are termed Pre-Cambrian and Silurian Rocks consist to a remarkable degree of stratified lava and ash from volcanoes. Several of the hollows found at some distance up the hillsides are covered with drift, an absolute proof of the fact that the surrounding land has been under the sea before the, formation of the stratified rocks. In various directions also among the surrounding hills, are clear evidence, that at a certain period the whole country was covered with ice, for the rocks show undisputable signs of the glacial era, such as grooved and rounded rocks, perched blocks and terminal moraine matter.

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Official & General Directory.

The Parish Council.

Clerk-Mr. Arthur Evans, Deunant Council School.

POSTAL INFORMATION.

Head Postal 5 Telegraph S Telephone Office in the Village.

Postmaster-Mr. Griffith Roberts.

Mails Arrive, weekdays about 11a.m.

Mails Depart, weekdays, about 2-30 p.m.

No Sunday Service.

Week Day Delivery of Letters commences at 11-30 a.m.

Telegraph and Telephone Office, open weekdays 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

On Sundays from 8-30 to 10 a.m.

Medical Practitioners.

The Gentlemen of the above Profession call at the following places

once weekly, and are respectively,

Dr. J. E. Griffith, of Pwllheli, on Monday at Bell Field Temperance.

Dr. Thomas, of Bottwnog on Tuesday, at Bell Field Temperance.

Dr. Evans, of Penbont, Abersoch, on Friday, at Ty Newydd Hotel.

Hotels and Temperances.

Moranedd Mrs Captain Griffiths.

The Ty Newydd Hotel Mr. Richard Griffiths.

Bell Field Temperance Mrs. Hughes

Dwyros Farm Mrs. Evans.

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Thanks to Mrs W Jones for lending us the booklet.

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