Wales Sacred Places Tour
Mysterious Wales, Land of Merlin
Tour operated in cooperation with Gothic Image Tours
October 7 – 16, 2012
Wales is a magical land of hills, mountains, valleys and coasts, green and homely. Home to the Welsh, descendants of the original Britons before the English – the Saxons and Normans – came along. Welsh is one of Europe’s oldest languages.
Wales isn’t big and grand – its wee corners and crannies are what is special about it. It’s a green, watery country – its rivers, coastline and periodic soft rains are unforgettable. When visiting Wales, it feels like you’re coming home – even if you’re not Welsh by origin.
The rugged mountains of Snowdonia and the green hills of South and Mid-Wales have been peopled for millennia, and mythologies of giants, dragons, druids, saints and magical characters are woven into their fabric – and even their place-names.
This is the land of the Mabinogion, the ancient mystical saga of the Welsh people, of Merlin the Sage, of cromlechs, stone circles, holy wells, waterfalls and many secret and magic places.
The tour visits Snowdonia and the Druid isle of Anglesey in the north-west of Wales, travelling down the coast of Cardigan Bay to Pembrokeshire, the ancient land of Dyfed, with its Celtic crosses, weeping yews, cromlechs and the misty Preseli mountains. Then to the Gower peninsula and finally to Gwent, en route for London Heathrow airport and home.
Our journey begins at London Heathrow Airport from where we travel to Welshpool just inside the Welsh border. En route we visit Mitchell’s Fold stone circle, with stunning views across the Camlad valley. The following day we travel to Betws-y-Coed close to the mountains of Snowdonia. Here we visit the enchanted Fairy Glen, with its multiple waterfalls, and we travel to the island of Anglesey, called Mona by the Druids, and nowadays known in Welsh as Ynys Môn. We visit the chambered mound Bryn Celli Ddu, the holy well of St Seirol at Penmon and Beaumaris Castle, a classic Norman castle, all on Anglesey.
Our journey takes us through the mountains past Mount Snowdon to Dinas Emrys, an ancient stonghold where Merlin revealed two fighting dragons to King Vortigern (symbolising the forthcoming battles between the Welsh and the English). We climb the hill and view the stunning landscape, visiting the remains of the Celtic iron age hill fort there. Thence to Merlin’s resting place at Beddgelert, and then to Porthmadog where we visit the fascinating italianate village of Portmeirion, the setting for the famous television thriller The Prisoner.
Onwards to the Norman castle at Harlech, and then through Machynlleth, Wales’ medieval capital, to Aberystwyth. Travelling further along the coast of Cardigan Bay, we visit the impressive ancient site of Pentre Ifan. We then visit the churchyard at Nevern where lie the enigmatic bleeding yew trees, an ancient Celtic cross and a phallic stone. Within the church we shall see Druidic Ogham stones.
Onwards to the tiny cathedral city of St David’s in Pembrokeshire, overlooking St Bride’s Bay. Here we visit the the magnificent cathedral and nearby St Non’s well and chapel. We journey east to Carmarthen, or Caerfyrddin, the City of Merlin, and thence to the Gower Peninsula where we visit Parc Le Breos chambered mound, situated in a perfect valley floor, and Maen Cetty or Arthur’s Stone. We then journey on to Pont y Pridd, ‘Bridge of Bridgit’, where we visit the Rocking Stone and stone circle at Carreg Sligo.
At Trelleck we visit the mighty standing stones and enchanted holy well before stopping at the atmospheric ruins of Tintern Abbey in the beautiful Wye Valley. Onwards across the Severn Bridge to Marlborough in England where we visit the nearby temple of Stonehenge, with private access to the stones.
Our journey complete, the following day we travel to London Heathrow Airport for international flights and transfers.