We continue walking in the footsteps of mythical creature, king of all monsters – dragon.
Red Dragon – Y Draig Goch – is only one of a number of dragon-like beasts to prowl their way through Welsh folklore. In numerous legends the dragons were considered to be the most magical beasts with powers such as shape-shifting, self-regeneration, and even mind reading attributed to them.
Bala Lake Monster
The author Marie Trevelyan collected many folk stories from friends, neighbours, servants and travellers as well as from a number of more scholarly sources. In her 1909 book Folk-Lore and Folk Stories of Wales she relates an interesting encounter with another water monster, this time in Bala Lake (Llyn Tegid). She writes: “it was said Bala Lake was bottomless. Centuries ago an expert diver tried it, but was terribly frightened by his experience. He asserted that a dragon was coiled up at the bottom of the lake, and if he had not been very careful the creature would have swallowed him.”
Interesting enough, there are much more recent accounts of something huge and unidentified being seen swimming in Bala Lake. Author of the book ‘Legends and Folklore of Wales’ R.S. Holland mentioned his conversation with one of the witnesses – local angler who had fished the lake for many tears previously. Despite the ridicule he received, he refused to back down from his glimpse of an enormous animal just below the surface of the water. The creature was nicknamed “Teggie” by the Press in acknowledgement of its famous Scottish cousin in Loch Ness.
Since the 1920s reports have cropped up periodically of a creature emerging from the depths of Llyn Tegid lake in Bala to terrify and intrigue bystanders. Some have described the figure as a small dinosaur while others claim it resembles a crocodile.
One of the most notable reported sightings of ‘Teggie’ was by former lake manager Dowie Bowen in the 1970s. Mr Bowen is reported to have said: “I was looking out at the lake and saw this thing coming towards the shore,
“It was at least 8ft long, similar to a crocodile, with its front and rear ends about 4ins above the water.”
However after rushing closer to the water to investigate, he found nothing. Other claims have emerged over the years that Teggie has been spotted by fishermen and visitors to the lake. One alleged witness in 1979 claimed to have seen the surface foam and bubble and a large hump backed beast emerge. So can there really be a monster lurking beneath in the depths of Llyn Tegid? It remains a mystery…
Llyn y Gader
In the 18th century there was a report of a monster in Llyn y Gader, a small lake below Mount Snowdon. A man was attempting to swim the lake when his friend by the shore spied a ‘long trailing object’ approaching him on the surface. Just as the swimmer was reaching the opposite shore, the head of some colossal serpent emerged from the water and it threw its coils around him. The poor man was dragged under and devoured before anyone could do anything to help.
Those interested individuals who would like to see this mysterious lake there is the five-mile Lon Gwyrfai walking route which runs from Rhyd Ddu, past Llyn y Gader, through forest woodland and alongside the Welsh Highland Railway to Beddgelert.
Rhyd Ddu Car Park: postcode LL54 6TN
Marie Trevelyan lists a wide range of places supposedly infested at one time by ‘lesser dragons and winged serpents’, among them is Worm’s Head in Gower, Glamorgan.
Jutting dramatically into the sea at Rhossili, Pernhyn gwyr is an impressive headland known as Worm’s Head. The word ‘worm’ is of Viking origin and means dragon or serpent. This headland is indeed shaped like a giant sea serpent and marks the most westerly tip of Gower. Most of the time i tis a true island, completely surrounded by water, but a causeway between the inner head and the mainland starts to be exposed to ebb the tide around 2,5 hours after high water, when it becomes possible to scramble across the rocks to reach the mile-long promontory. The inner and outer heads are connected by an arch of rock called the Devil’s Bridge and on the north side is a blowhole, which emits a loud hissing and blooming noise. Air is forced through a cleft in the rocks by wave pounding against the north side of the Worm – a handkerchief placed over the hole will be blown several feet into the air.
Viking worm dragons
Worm’s Head on the Gower Peninsula in Wales was thought to resemble a sleeping dragon. There are many legends in the north east of England relating to gigantic ‘worms’ which terrorised the local area before being slain by a hero. The Lambton Worm, Sockburn Worm and Worm of Linton are among the best known of these. The North East was raided and occupied by the Vikings for centuries during the Dark Ages and these legends may refer to heroes fighting the invaders, personified as monstrous Viking worm dragons.
Illustration of John Lambton battling the Worm
The Durham historian Hutchinson believed the legend of the Sockburn worm, for example, referred to a Viking raider who plundered the Tees valley before being repulsed. The notion of the Sockburn worm itself was used by Lewis Carroll as the basis of his nonsense rhyme “Jabberwocky”.