Day 248 Mile 248: Conwy Rivers Project 7/10 Legends of the Afon Crafnant. Today’s run finds me (on the way to Aberystwyth) at the head of the River Crafnant, where it first emerges from the lake that bears the same name where it then drops by about 600ft to meet the river Conwy and hence the sea.
It is a beautiful place full of ancient woodland and wonderful stories, such as that of the Crafnant Water Horse. According to legend, if a person caught and mounted the it, the mythical beast would flee away to Crafnant Lake and plunge in; the person would never be seen again. I have still never heard a good reason why anyone would have thought that this was a good idea in the first place!
The valley which the river has carved out is home to the sessile oak, which was sacred to the Druids, who lived in Wales at up until the time of the Roman invasion. Not far away stands an obelisk commemorating Taliesin, a 6th-century bard. Most scholars believe him to be of Irish descent but it is known he lived in the surrounding hills. In those times bards would have been resident in the courts of many warrior kings, and Taliesin was said to have attended King Maelgwyn Gwynedd. After a fiery row the departing bard predicted that a yellow creature would rise from Morfa Rhianedd (Llandudno) and kill the King. It has since been proven that when the King died in roughly AD 547 there was an outbreak of yellow fever!
Many of Taliesin’s more fanciful poems recall tales of magic and mystery, some of which relate to the heroics of the great King Arthur, who some believe was his one-time master. It is probable that he spent time in the court of Urien of Rheged, a northern leader whose kingdom occupied much of modern Cumbria and south west Scotland. Many people link Urien’s deeds with those of the mythical Arthur, so again there may be a grain of truth in the stories
Returning to the present the woodland today is alive with birds, something which has remained unchanged since the time of the Druids who first expressed huge respect for the wren, calling it ‘The King of the Birds’. The wren is sometimes called ‘The Bird of Taliesin’, tradition telling that Taliesin was once transformed into a wren, his favourite bird. To this day the wren is one of the most sighted birds in the Crafnant Valley.
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: 2225.6 meters recorded
(1 mile = 1609.34 m.)
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Thanks as ever for all the support!