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Llyn Llydaw (Brittany Lake)

At 1,430 feet above sea level Llyn Llydaw (Brittany Lake) is another sterile glacial lake of Yr Wyddfa (Mount Snowdon) in its eastern valley Cwn Dyli. It has an industrial air about it, and it has the Miners’ track crossing its eastern end by a causeway that was built in 1853 when the lake was lowered. Covering an area of 110 acres, it has a depth of approximately 190 feet at the head of the lake, but becomes shallower due to the morainic deposits by the ancient Llydaw glacier.

Llydaw has always had Arthurian associations. The Battle of Camlann is said to have been fought at nearby Cwm-y-llan (Valley of the Parish) and Arthur is said to have been shot dead at Bwlch-y-Saethau (The Pass of the Arrows) on the ridge between Yr Wyddfa and Y Lliwedd. A cairn called Carnedd Arthur was erected at the site but it no longer exists, and there is also the Ogof Llanciau Eryri (Cave of the Young Men of Snowdonia) on the slopes of Y Lliwedd, where the surviving knights from the battle are said to have retired and sleep there to this day.

So Llyn Llydaw is one of the two lakes of North Wales with a legend of being the lake where Sir Bedivere (Bedwyr) threw Excalibur, King Arthur’s sword, to the Lady of the Lake after the battle of Camlann. The other lake with the same claim in the region being Llyn Ogwen, in the Ogwen valley about ten miles away.

One interesting fact emerged when Llyn Llydaw was lowered to make the causeway. A primitive canoe, made from a hollowed out oak tree trunk was discovered embedded in the mud. Its dimensions were ten feet long by two and a half feet wide. Richenda Scott in Snowdonia wrote:

.....looking down from the heights into the dark waters of the lake, Sir John Rhys saw ‘with the eyes of Mallory’ the passing of Arthur enacted on its waters, the reluctant Sir Bedivere flinging Excalibur into the depths below, and the ‘barge’ transformed into the prehistoric canoe, containing the three ‘fayre ladyes’ who bore away the body of the mortally wounded king, staunching his wounds.

The canoe must really confirm a long history of settlement on Llyn Llydaw, and it means the copper ore there, has been important for millennia.

Simon Topham

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