St Grwst’s Church, Llanrwst

I first spotted St Grwst’s Church from across the Conwy River when I was photographing the area and that reminded me that I’d read in the history of St Mary’s Church in Conwy that a connection to Llywelyn the Great could be found at St Grwst’s and it was somewhere worth visiting. According to legend a Welsh nobleman called Nefydd Hardd murdered a son of Owain Gwynedd, king of Gwynedd, North Wales and in atonement for his actions Nefydd’s son had the church built in 1170. It was dedicated to Grwst, a saint who had set up a church nearby in the 6th century.

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Llanrwst War Memorial

Just to the left of Llanrwst Railway Station, heading towards the town, is the Llanrwst War Memorial. The memorial commemorates the dead of both World Wars including Janet Jones, who was a teacher before enlisting as one of the early members of the Women’s Royal Air Force. She died on 21 December 1918, after the war had ended, aged only 28. Her brother Hugh is also remembered here, he died in Gallipoli in 1915 aged just 23.

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Pont Fawr, Llanrwst, Wales

Pont Fawr (Big Bridge) was built in the 1630s and is often called “Inigo Jones’ Bridge” after the architect of such buildings as Banqueting House and St Paul’s Church, Covent Garden. I say is often called, because there’s not actually a lot of evidence to prove that Inigo Jones was involved at all, but there isn’t anything to say he wasn’t either. A plaque on the bridge claims that Jones designed it at the behest of Sir John Wynn of, you guessed it, Gwydir Castle.

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Gorsedd Stone Circle, Llanrwst

I was surprised on making my way to Gwydir Castle, to spot a stone circle in a field. I didn’t venture any further than this as I didn’t really have the time for a long detour but I did make a mental note to do some research when I got home. It turns out these are a rather recent addition, constructed for the National Eisteddfod of Wales (a large festival of music and poetry). The festival started in 1861 in Aberdare and happens annually in different locations around Wales. It first came to Llanrwst in 1951, when these stones were erected. The Gorsedd is an association of people who have made a significant contribution to Welsh language, literature and culture and is responsible for the ceremonial aspects of the National Eisteddfod which often takes place at the stone circles. A rather unusual bit of history but a nice addition to the scenery.

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Gwydir Uchaf Chapel and Gwydir Forest Park, Llanrwst, Wales

On leaving Gwydir Castle I was heading back towards Llanrwst when I spotted some stone steps leading up the side of a hill opposite. Intrigued I decided to investigate. It lead me up a steep winding path through dense trees with birds that I heard but couldn’t see singing all around me.

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Gwydir Castle, Llanrwst, Wales

I came across Gwydir Castle while browsing Conwy’s tourist page and immediately decided that it was somewhere I wanted to see. As already mentioned in the post about Llanrwst, the town is easy to get to by train and the castle is a pleasant roughly 20 minute walk from the station. It isn’t open every day so you really must check dates and times before you travel. Admission is currently £10 for adults.

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Llanrwst, Wales

Llanrwst is a small market town less than a mile from the edge of Snowdonia. My main purpose for visiting was to go to Gwydir Castle (which will feature in a later post) but I also had time to wander around the town. It was easy to get to from Llandudno Junction Railway Station (just across the bridge from Conwy) though there were at the time of writing only about four trains a day and only a couple that were actually helpful for my needs. Note there is a North Llanrwst Station and a Llanrwst – for the town and castle you’ll want Llanrwst (North Llanrwst is a request stop so if you do want to get off here make yourself known to the train staff). As you can see the railway station is one of the smallest I’ve been to.

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