Sarn Helen above Manod Quarry

Hafod-ysbyty

A hostel for pilgrims - or a bandits' hideout?

The view towards Hafod-ysbyty

Hafod-ysbyty is a farm on the Afon Gamallt, just south of the words 'Cwm Teigl' on the map. The name means 'the summer hospice'. It started out as something like a medieval youth hostel but may have become something rather more sinister. The warrior monks of the order of St John of Jerusalem, the Knights Hospitaller, had a hospice for travellers over the mountain at Ysbyty Ifan, near the head-waters of the Conwy. Here they had the privilege of sanctuary for criminals. As the knights lost control of their estates, Ysbyty Ifan became a hide-out for bandits and outlaws. The upland pastures belonging to the hospice were at Hafod-ysbyty, which became a convenient stopping place for the bandits.

Or was this just a nasty rumour put about by the Wynns of Gwydir? Their local rivals, the ancestors of the Price family of Ysbyty Ifan, were related to the notorious Red Bandits of Dinas Mawddwy.

There is another story about the origins of the name of the nearby lake, ‘Llyn y Morwynion’, 'the lake of the maidens' (see under Bryn-y-Castell) . The bandits had kidnapped some young women from the Vale of Clwyd and were taking them to another hideout in the Rhinogs. They were overtaken by the kinsmen of the kidnapped women and killed. But the women had fallen in love with their captors and, unable to face life without them, killed themselves in the lake.

 

Places to hafod-ysbyty

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