Mynydd Hyddgen, Powys

Explore the wild hills that saw a great victory for a Welsh leader who rebelled against the English

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In 1401, 1,200 English and Flemish soldier settlers from Pembrokeshire set out to ambush Owain Glyndwr’s camp in the Cambrian mountains. 

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But the attackers were encumbered with heavy armour and were beaten by 120 Welshmen armed with guerrilla tactics, bows, arrows, horses and knowledge of their land. It’s a land that swirls in cloud, a wet land of blanket bog and hidden streams where rivers are born.

The attacking army had been sent by Henry IV, a man with many enemies after usurping
the English throne from his cousin, Richard II. Henry had appointed his own son Prince
of Wales to which Glyndwr, sick of the English overlords, responded by crowning himself prince. Henry wanted Glyndwr and his rebellion crushed.

Shakespeare described him as “that great magician, damn’d Glendower” in Henry IV Part I, and Glyndwr was no pushover. He was of noble birth and his men were loyal to him.

Mountain country

Mynydd Hyddgen lies in the mountains beyond Nant-y-moch reservoir and along the western edge of Pumlumon. There’s a car park by the dam with a memorial stone to the battle; you can walk to the site from here, or park at the end of the road.

Follow the stony track right of the bunkhouse to the confluence of the Hyddgen and Hengwm rivers – cross the Hengwm by footbridge to the right and continue along the Hyddgen Valley. Look for the white quartz cerrig cyfamod – covenant stones intended to mark the site of the battle, though it’s now believed the site was another mile north. Glyndwr’s encampment was at Siambwr Trawsfynydd, further along at the edge of the trees.

This is not an accessible heritage site with visitor facilities. Even in dry weather the track is pocked with puddles; the hills squelch and tussocks and ditches tug at your ankles. It is a remote, wild land where sometimes the only sound is the river or a raven’s call. It’s a land where it’s easy to imagine a bloody battle more than 600 years ago.

Glyndwr’s rebellion was ultimately unsuccessful. But no one knows how he died. He was never captured or betrayed and is still revered in Wales.

Useful Information

HOW TO GET THERE

From Aberystwyth, take the A44 to Ponterwyd, and take the turn to Nant-y-moch. Buses run from Aberystwyth to Ponterwyd – but it’s a long walk from here. Dry weather is recommended for any visit.

FIND OUT MORE

The Owain Glyndwr Centre

Heol Maengwyn, Machynlleth SY20 8EE

01654 702932

www.canolfanglyndwr.org

EAT/STAY

The Wynnstay Hotel Restaurant and Pizzeria

Heol Maengwyn, Machynlleth SY20 8EE

01654 702941

www.wynnstay-hotel.com

A luxurious yet cosy and friendly old hotel with superbly cooked food and a locally sourced menu. Although several miles away, it would be sensible to stay in Machynlleth, site of Glyndwr’s parliament.

NEARBY

Talyllyn Railway Company

Wharf Station, Tywyn
LL36 9EY

01654 710472

www.talyllyn.co.uk

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Enjoy a great day out for all the family at this historic narrow-gauge steam railway that runs through seven miles of beautiful Welsh countryside.