A roughly hewn edifice of stone, standing alone on a mound overlooking the surrounding countryside and mountains – this is Dolwyddelan Castle. It offers up the best of both worlds: the man-made impressiveness of this defensive installation, as well as the natural beauty of the Snowdonian peaks.
Unusually, the building doesn’t seem out of place, nor does it mar the aesthetics of nature; instead, perhaps due to the ruggedness of the area, the craggy remains of the castle fit right in with its surroundings. It’s well worth a trip out of the way to visit, especially if you take a picnic. As it is in between the two lovely towns of Betws-y-Coed and Blaenau Ffestiniog, you can combine the three attractions and have a wonderful day out exploring rural Wales.
Built way back in the 13th century by Llywelyn the Great, the Prince of Gwynedd and North Wales, the castle was originally constructed with two storeys and one tower. Over the centuries, the castle became much larger – a second tower was built around 50 years after its founding, whilst a third floor was added in the 1600s.
The castle, built using local slate rubble and grit, featured prominently throughout historical conflicts: it was captured by Edward I during the Welsh Wars in 1283 and was held by the English until the 1290s, then played a part in the rebellion of Madog ap Llywelyn, the last native Prince of Wales.
It then went mostly unused until the 15th century, when local nobleman Maredudd ap Ieuan leased the castle; it was he who added the third storey.
Sadly, it then fell into disrepair, being mostly unoccupied for more than 300 years. Fortunately for all of us, Peter Drummond-Burrell, the 22nd Baron Willoughby de Eresby, purchased the property and restored it, adding the battlements to the fort. The building is now under the care of Cadw, and is open to visitors seven days a week, entry is free with a Cadw Explorer Pass.
The views of the surrounding countryside are beautiful, stretching over miles into the mountains. Particularly striking is the vista that is visible from the top of the keep – make sure to spend a few minutes taking it all in.
The village of Dolwyddelan is also picturesque, a typical rural Welsh village with all the associate trappings. Set deep within the idyllic Lledr Valley, it is a wonderfully tranquil place, surrounding on all sides by lush green countryside. Take a picnic and make the most of it.
The Lledr Valley is conveniently located for further exploration of Snowdonia and its famous National Park. You can find just about everything in the area: from mountains to beaches and lakes to forests, from fishing to mountain biking and climbing to paragliding. Snowdonia has a little something for every kind of taste and every member of the family, and as such it is the perfect place to get away to for a week or two. If you are curious to discover this part of the world, click here and we’ll tell you all about our accommodation in this lovely part of Wales.
Outside of Dowyddelan in central Snowdonia reached via the A470 from Betws-y-Coed or Blaenau Ffestiniog. There is a car park about 500m away from the castle which is reached by a steep uneven path and some steps.
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