We continue exploring mysterious land of Wales and this time our story is about Floating Island. Sounds intriguing, isn’t it? Well, believe or not but it was reported once upon a time the island has migrated from one site to another.
Llyn Y Dywarchen, The lake of the Turf Island, is a lake steeped in myth and legends. This small reservoir is hidden away down a small road (B4418) from Talysarn to Beddgelert.
A short walk from the car through a gate in the stone wall and wow, you are presented with stunning view across the lake and Snowdon in the distance. It is absolutely beautiful and peaceful place, in fact it was nominated by the public as one of the 60 Wonders of Snowdonia.
Also the place given special mention as a great stargazing location on Snowdonia National Park website.
This secret little gem has not only dramatic scenery to offer, it is full of mystery and magic.
Travel tips: Llyn y Dywarchen is located above the village of Drws y Coed in Dyffryn Nantlle, near Rhyd Ddu, Gwynedd (LL23 7PA).
Car park: There are only a few parking spaces next to the reservoir, so it can be a struggle to find a space during the height of summer.
In the twelfth century, Giraldus Cambrensis mentioned the remarkable lake near Snowdon on his journey through Wales in 1188: ‘which had floating island driven from one side to the other by the wind, shepherds beholding it with astonishment, their cattle while feeding carried to the distant parts of the lake’. He suggested the floating island was either made of turf, or a slab of peat that broke away from the mainland, or detached itself from the bottom of the lake and floated to the surface, and was being kept afloat by the gasses, such as methane that came out of the marshlands.
The records of the floating island can be found again in 1698 and 1798. An astronomer named Halley even claimed that he had swum out to it and, sitting on the floating island, steered it round the lake.
The famous artist Richard Wilson included the floating island in one of his paintings by depicting a man standing on it and holding a large pole that he was using to ferry himself towards the shore. A rocky islet in the lake is not the floating island, for this has now vanished without trace.
Legends associated with the lake
There is connection with the Cwellyn legend of the man who married a fairy. This turf island was the occasional meeting place of the fairy and the husband after she had returned to the lake and was forbidden ‘to walk the earth’. When the island was blown to touch the shore, one could witness the spirits of the lovers kiss.
Another legend associated with the lake, is about another man who spotted the Tylwyth Teg (fairy-like small mythological creatures) one evening, going about their nightly frolics, and invited the man to join them. They danced away, resulting in the man being transported away to a beautiful country, from which it took 7 years to return.
Floating island phenomena
Floating islands do indeed exist on some of continents; they may have trees growing upon them, be hundreds of meters across, and support the weight of humans living upon them and even of cattle grazing upon them.
Floating islands are kept buoyant by the light spongy tissues of certain aquatic plants, by gases released into their soil by decomposing vegetation, or by both of these forces. In very rare cases they have also been seen at sea however most often found in lakes and wetlands.
Photography © Gurcan Sarisoy