This, the closest castle to Benar Cottages, is a commanding Welsh stronghold in a spectacular mountain setting. Dolwyddelan castle is as Welsh as the rugged mountains of Eryri that provide its spectacular backdrop. One of a group of fortresses built to command the mountain passes, it stands as a lasting memorial to Prince Llywelyn ap Iorwerth, or Llywelyn the Great. He was the undisputed ruler of Gwynedd from 1201 to his death in 1240.
But Dolwyddelan was finally conquered during the reign of his grandson Llywelyn ap Gruffudd by the English king Edward I. It marked a crucial stage in his relentless campaign to crush the Welsh once and for all. Edward set his own stamp on Dolwyddelan from the day it fell in 1283. The garrison was hastily equipped with camouflage white tunics – perfect for winter warfare in the mountains. He raised the height of the keep, built a new tower and installed a siege engine complete with stone ‘cannon balls’.
Nothing lasts for ever. By the early 19th century Dolwyddelan was a romantic ruin popular with landscape artists. Then Lord Willoughby de Eresby decided to ‘restore’ the keep with medieval-style battlements. You can still clearly see the join between his fantasy architecture and the genuine handiwork of Llywelyn the Great underneath.
Travel time from Benar Cottages: 15 minutes
As the closest castle to Benar Cottages, the properly Welsh castle at Dolwyddelan sits majestically above the village. It’s a great castle to walk to and a nice place to stop for a picnic.