Tales of Cwm Idwal

Icy and snowy Cwm Idwal

Wales is a land of mythological creatures and tales of past legends, but Cwm Idwal has its own stories.

A tragic tale of envy, greed and death

The largest glacial moraine within the cwm is known as Bedd y Cawr (Giant's Grave). This is the supposed tomb of Idwal, a giant from a legend lost in the mists of time.

The lake is named after a young man who died a tragic and unnecessary death. Legend has it that Idwal was the son of the 12th century prince Owain Gwynedd. Beautiful and scholarly, Idwal did not have the makings of a warrior and was sent away to stay in safety with his uncle, Nefydd, while his father was at war.

Nefydd was a jealous man whose own son Rhun, in contrast to Idwal, was witless and dull.
Torn apart by bitterness, Nefydd took the boys for a walk by the lake and pushed Idwal in, laughing at the young man as he drowned. Owain was devastated and banished Nefydd from his lands. He then named the lake after his son.

In another version of the tale, Idwal is an eighth-century prince, the son of Cadwaladr, who suffered a similar fate. He was murdered by a rival who coveted his estate.

Explore Cwm Idwal at all times of the year
Llyn Idwal, with Y Garn capped with snow
Explore Cwm Idwal at all times of the year

The lake where no birds will fly

Legend has it that the birds that inhabited the lake flew away in sorrow at the terrible deed done there.

" 'The shepherd's fable, that it is the haunt of Daemons; and that no bird dare fly over its damned waters'"
- Thomas Pennant, 1780s

To this day the birds are believed to maintain that vow not to fly over the water in respect to the memory of the dead prince.