History among the Mountains: Dolwyddelan Castle

There is far more than just mountains in Snowdonia, the landscape is filled with great beaches, forests, lakes, not to mention a strong Welsh heritage and colorful history. In this blog I will be detailing far more than just my adventures into the mountains but also my journeys into other areas of this beautiful part of the British Isles.

History is my subject of choice at Bangor, I simply love to read great dusty tomes and research the little known, interesting tidbits of the past. I particularly enjoy medieval history, my childhood was spent reading stories of kings, knights and battles and like any self respecting medieval historian I love castles. These monoliths of stone and mortar that tower over our British landscapes have always held my fascination. Fortunately for me, North Wales is crammed with such castles, from the great fortresses that mark the legacy of Edward I’s conquest, to the smaller and more unique castles of the old Welsh Princes.

Dolwyddelan Castle is one of the latter, a single keep surrounded by the ruins of a curtain wall. Driving home for the Easter holidays I decided to make a quick afternoon visit to the castle. I took the A470, just outside Betws-y-Coed, and drove along for about 10 minutes before parking in the castle car park based just outside the village of Dolwyddelan. Payment for the castle (£3,00) is to be made at a farm house just up the road, but luckily for me the owners were not in so I decided to snap up a free visit. The castle is visible from the car park and past the farm house it is a short uphill walk to the old castle keep.

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Dolwyddelan Castle

If, like me you are use to grand English castles like Arundel, Windsor or even Caernarfon, then Dolwyddelan can seem quite an odd little keep, it is one of the few remaining native Welsh castles that remain intact and unlike most castles it forms a rectangular shape with pronounced very corners (a big no no for any practical medieval castle)

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The great keep

The area of Dolwyddelan is reputed to be birth place of Llywelyn the Great, a Welsh Prince born in 1195, who successfully conquered most of Wales over a period of 40 years and became the land’s de-facto ruler. During this time he order the constructed of Dolwyddelan Castle to guard access into Snowdonia. The castle itself is built atop a ridge set against the backdrop of Moel Siabod and commands a magnificent view of the forested Lledr valley. After is capture by Edwardian forces in 1283 the fortress was upgraded and additional floors have been slowly added over the centuries, long after its military garrisons left. Thanks to Victorian preservation, the keep remains well preserved and although the inside is rather large and empty there are numerous information boards detailing the castles history. You can even climb to the top and explore the battlements which offer up some great views, especially of Moel Siabod.

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Moel Siabod from Dolwyddelan Castle

In all, a good little detour and certainly worth an hour or so, there are numerous public paths traversing the area so its easy to combine any visit to the castle with a longer walk. Walking back to the car park, I decided to leave my payment on one the farmhouse’s windowsills  as I felt the it had all been worth the price of admission.

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The castle battlements

Thus concludes my tale , if you have stories you wish to share or have any advice about the blog in general feel free to leave a note in the comments and thanks for reading.

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