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Dolwyddelan Castle

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Now March is here, snow yesterday, but luckily it disappeared as quickly as it came, ground too wet. We took the opportunity in between the showers on Saturday to walk with some friends near Dolwyddelan Castle, it has been a while since John and I have been and it still is a remarkable place and well worth a visit.

A little history about this Welsh castle, it was built in the early 13th century, functioned as a guard post along a main route through North Wales. It was reputed to be the birthplace of Llywelyn the Great, though it is now thought that he was born at Tomen Castell, a small tower that previously stood on a nearby hill, and that he built Dolwyddelan Castle. On 18 January 1283 it was captured by Edward I of England’s forces during the final stages of his conquest of Wales. Some historians have suggested that there may have been a deal between the defenders of the castle and Edward I in which its surrender was negotiated. The castle was then modified and strengthened until at least 1286 for occupation by an English garrison with recorded repairs including carpentry, the bridge, and the water mill.

Edwardian troops maintained a military presence here until 1290. As the long-term strategy of control in Wales began to rely on military and administrative centres accessible by sea, the inland castles became obsolete.

In the 15th century, the upper storey and drainage system were added to the keep by local lord Maredudd ap Ieuan who acquired the lease in 1488. It was restored and partly re-modelled in the 19th century by Lord Willoughby de Eresby, who added the distinctive battlements. It was reported that in around 1810 one of the towers may have collapsed.

In 1930 the building was placed under the guardianship of the Ministry of Works. The castle is now under the protection of Cadw, which is part of the Welsh Assembly’s historic environment division.

We met our friends at the station car park (not many trains run now but still it is good to see the line up and working), after a nice gently start to our walk we too a sharp right through the newly cut forestry on to the top of the ridge, we then followed this round walking the ridge until lunchtime, by this stage the rain had started and we headed to the shelter of the trees to eat our picnic. Much discussion was had as to whether we would continue along the ridge to the next point or head down through the forest to the track and then back to Dolwyddelan. As three of us were rather wet and cold we decided that it would have been a silly idea to continue in such poor weather so the shorter route was taken back down the valley. We then headed into Betwys-Coed for a glass of cider, and amazingly even on a cold wet March day the town is buzzing, and it was hard to get a table to sit!

So we have some weekends left in March, so come and stay and bring your dog and do some lovely long walks or even visit Dolwyddelan Castle, now at last the days are drawing out.

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