Day 52 mile 52: Legendary Huffin’ & Puffin!

Day 52 mile 52: Legendary Huffin’ & Puffin! I have a day off today and contrary to last night’s forecast it isn’t raining… result! Today’s run is a bit of fun around the village of Dwygyfylchi. Looking out to sea you can make out Llys Helig and Puffin Island, while inland you can find a massive metal Puffin helping to advertise the cafe and garage.

Starting from this avian icon, I rambled up through the houses before looping around the memorial outside the beautiful St Gwynan’s church. The present building is relatively new, built in 1889 but the site is ancient. It is thought that a church has stood here in one form or other for around one thousand four hundred years. It is dedicated to Gwynan or Gwynin, who lived in the sixth and seventh centuries. He was, according to legend, the son of  Helyg [sic] (of Llys Helig fame), who on losing all his property at the hands of divine vengeance, sent his sons to become priests.

It is too good a story not to recount and there is a serendipitous symmetry between my today’s run and the narrative, leaving the views of Helig’s court out to sea and coming inland to Gwynan’s church:

Llys Helig (Helig`s Palace) and the lost Land of Tyno Helig.

Helig ap Glannawg, the prince of Tyno Helig, was said to have lived in the sixth century. His lands stretched from Flintshire in the east to Conwy in the west and beyond. In fact Helig’s Palace is said to have lain to the north, some two miles from today’s coastline, under the waters of Conwy Bay.

The legend surrounds Helig`s daughter Gwendud, who despite being fair of face had a wicked and cruel heart. Gwendud was wooed by Tathal, the son of one of the local barons of Snowdon, in comparison a young man of relatively humble birth. Eventually she succumbed to his charms but told him that they could not be married because he did not wear the golden torque of a nobleman.

Tathal took it upon himself to secure a golden torque by fair means or foul. After offering to guide a ransomed young Scottish chieftain back to safety, he treacherously stabbed him and stole his golden collar. Tathal claimed that they had been set upon by a band of robbers headed by an outlaw nobleman, whom he had slain in fair fight.

Gwendud now consented to marry Tethal, and Prince Helig ordering a great feast to celebrate the union. At some point in the proceedings the ghost of the murdered Scottish chieftain appeared and informed them that he would exact a terrible vengeance over four generations of their family. [Thus was Gwynan sent to a life in the church as an act of penitence]

Despite the curse it is said that Gwendud and Tethal lived well into their old age. Retribution appears to have caught up with the family with the birth of their great-great-grandchild. During a night of celebration and revelry in the royal palace, a maid went down into the cellar to bring up more wine. She was horrified to discover that the cellar was flooded with fish swimming around in the salty sea-water. She and her lover, who was the court minstrel, quickly realizing something serious had occurred, ran for the safety of the mountains. They were hardly out of the banqueting hall when they heard shrieks of terror from behind them. Looking back they could see the foam of mighty breaking waves racing towards them. With water lapping at their heels they ran until at last they reached the safety of the land. Breathless and exhausted they waited for the morning. When the sun rose it disclosed an expanse of rippling water where Helig’s Palace had once stood.

It is said that at very low tides the ruins of the old palace can still be seen under the water.

Ben Johnson

Thanks as ever for all the support!


I’m running a mile each day everyday for 2017. If you feel you can sponsor me please do, as all the money raised will go to the Cleft Lip & Palate Association (CLAPA) who provide services all across the UK to support people affected by it.

Distance: 1715.5 meters recorded

(1 mile = 1609.34 m.)
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