Day 276 Mile 276: Afanc River-Monster Mountain Run. High on the east flank of Snowdon lies a lake, carved out by the actions of tectonic motion along with the weight of ice and custodian of a fantastic story.
The Afanc was a legendary water monster which lived in the River Conwy. The first written evidence of the story comes from Llywelyn y Glyn (c. 1420 – 1490) but elements of the narrative suggest a far older heritage.
Yr Afanc was a gigantic beast who, when annoyed, was strong enough to break the banks of the river causing the floods. Many attempts had been made to kill him but it seems that his hide was so tough that no spear, arrow or any man-made weapon could pierce it.
The people of the valley held a meeting and decided that if force wouldn’t work, then the Afanc must somehow be enticed out of his pool and removed to a lake far away beyond the mountains, where he could cause no further trouble. The lake chosen to be the Afanc’s new home was Llyn Ffynnon Las (now known as Glaslyn), under the shadow of Mount Snowdon. The finest blacksmith in the land forged the strong iron chains that would be required to bind and secure the Afanc, and they sent for Hu Gardan and his two long-horned oxen – the mightiest oxen in Wales – to come to Betws-y-coed.
It appears that the Afanc was very partial to beautiful young women, and one, the daughter of a local farmer, was brave enough to volunteer to call the Afanc out of the river.
The girl approached the Afanc’s pool while her father and the rest of the men remained hidden a short distance away. Standing on the shore she called softly to him, the waters began to heave and bubble, and through it appeared the grotesque head of the monster.The girl bravely stood her ground and began to sing a lullaby. Slowly the massive great body of the Afanc crawled out of the lake towards the farmer’s daughter. So sweet was the song that the leviathan’s head slowly sank to the ground in slumber.
The girl signaled to her father, and he and the rest of the villagers emerged from their hiding places and set about binding the Afanc with the forged iron chains.
They had only just finished their task when the Afanc awoke, and with a roar of fury at being tricked, the monster slid back into the lake, but the chains were long and had been hitched onto the great oxen. The oxen braced their muscles and began to pull. Slowly, the Afanc was dragged out of the water, but it took the strength of Hu Gardan’s oxen and every available man to pull him onto the bank.
They dragged him up the Lledr valley, and then headed north-west toward Llyn Ffynnon Las. On the way up a steep mountain field one of the oxen was pulling so hard that it lost an eye – it popped out with the strain and the tears the oxen shed formed Pwll Llygad yr Ych, (Pool of the Ox’s Eye).
The oxen struggled on until they reached Llyn Ffynnon Las, close to the summit of Snowdon. There the chains of the Afanc were loosed, and with a roar, the monster leapt straight into the deep blue water that was to become his new home. Encased within the sturdy rock banks of the lake he remains trapped forever.
Hence I am up at the very same lake as the day is waking. There is something wonderful about being up here during the dawn. Legend and reality, dreams and endorphins merge at the edges. It’s also rather windy with gusts measuring around 55 mph which is handy when going in the right direction, but awkward when in opposition! The windchill also takes the air temperature down to around -4° which feels unsurprisingly cool on the fingers. I may have to dig the gloves out of the back of the wardrobe! A brisk walk up and a fast run down to home and breakfast.
All in all, an amazing experience!
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: 4761.4 meters recorded
(1 mile = 1609.34 m.)
Thanks as ever for all the support!
A good earworm for today, not so much a tune stuck in the mind, but staying a distance from savage beasties in the medieval days…. Runaway!!!!!