From dragons and Celtic kings to Conwy's very own Loch Ness Monster, there is a wealth of myths and legends associated with North Wales. 

The area lays claim to a large number of Welsh myths and legends, acting as the backdrop to where these tales took place. 

The National Trust has rounded up all the Welsh myths and legends with a "magical tale for everyone and a wealth of traditions to discover". 

From the legend behind how Llyn Idwal got its name to a Welsh myth with links to Merlin, that may in fact be true, here are the legendary tales linked to North Wales:

Afanc (Conwy)

The Afanc was a legendary water monster described as Wales' version of the Loch Ness Monster. 

Legend says The Afanc used to live in Llyn-yr-Afanc (The Afanc Pool) in the River Conwy and when annoyed the beast was strong enough to break the banks causing floods and drowning livestock and crops in the Conwy Valley, Historic UK says.

Many attempts were made to kill the beast but no made weapon was able to pierce its hide.

So the villagers in the Conwy Valley devised a plan to move it to Llyn Ffynnon Las near Yr Wydffa (Snowdon).

To move the beast they used the daughter of a local farmer to lure it out of the water with a lullaby, also putting it to sleep. 

Once out of the water and asleep, the villagers chained up the Afanc and transported it to Llyn Ffynnon Las, close to the summit of Snowdon where they released it and it remained "encased within the sturdy rock banks of the lake he remains trapped forever".


You may be familiar with the North Wales village of Beddgelert, but do you know how it got its name? 

Legend has it that a 13th-century prince, Llywelyn the Great, and his princess went out hunting one day leaving their baby with their faithful and favoutire dog called Gelert.

Upon their return, they found their baby missing and Gelert covered in blood. 

Llywelyn immediately drew his sword and killed his favourite hound, but as he did so they heard a baby’s cry. 

There was their child sitting safely next to a dead giant wolf, that had been killed by Gelert.

The National Trust added: "Stricken with grief and filled with remorse Llywelyn gave the faithful hound a ceremonial burial by the river.

"Gelert was eventually immortalised in the name the village is known today as Beddgelert, which translates to Gelert’s grave."

There is also a memorial statue to the famous dog that can be visited in Beddgelert. 

Cwm Idwal

North Wales Pioneer: Do you know the story behind how Llyn Idwal got its name and why birds supposedly don't fly over it?Do you know the story behind how Llyn Idwal got its name and why birds supposedly don't fly over it? (Image: Getty Images)

Llyn Idwal, located in the Eryri (Snowdonia) National Park, is said to be named after the son of 12th-century Prince Owain Gwynedd. 

Legend has it Idwal was "beautiful and scholarly" but did not have the makings of a warrior and was sent away to stay in safety with his uncle, Nefydd, while his father was at war.

Nefydd was a jealous man whose own son Rhun, in contrast to Idwal, was witless and dull, the National Trust explains.

The Trust adds: "Torn apart by bitterness, Nefydd took the boys for a walk by the lake and pushed Idwal in, laughing at the young man as he drowned.

"Owain was devastated and banished Nefydd from his lands. He then named the lake after his son."

A different version of the legend tells a tale of Idwal, an eighth-century prince, the son of Cadwaladr, who suffered a similar fate.

The National Trust says he was murdered by a rival who coveted his estate.

The lake with no birds

Legend also states that all the birds that inhabited the lake flew away in sorrow following the terrible deed at the lake.

To this day it is said no birds will fly over Llyn Idwal to respect the memory of the dead Prince.

Links to Charles Darwin

For centuries the secret of Cwm Idwal's birth was just that - a secret.

Charles Darwin discovered the first clues to the formation of Cwm Idwal when investigating the area for his famous 'On the Origin of Species' publication back in 1831. 

The National Trust said: "He noticed that the scattered rocks and boulders held tiny fossils of sea creatures and oceanic plant life, perfectly illustrating their previous incarnation as the rocky floor of the Iapetus Ocean."

Darwin returned for a second visit some 10 years later. 

Dinas Emrys

Dinas Emrys is home to arguably Wales' most intriguing legend, one that has it all from dragons and underground lakes to links to the famous wizard Merlin.

Celtic King Vortigern, in the fifth century, chose Dinas Emrys as the site for his castle.

He began to build his castle but each morning royal masons would return to find their tools had vanished and the work they had done the day before had been destroyed. 

This was repeated day after day until Vortigern decided to seek the help of magicians and sorcerers in an attempt to solve the problem.

The National Trust continued: "They advised that the ground should be sprinkled with the blood of a child born to a human mother and a father from the ‘other world’.

"A search was launched and eventually the child was found in Caer Myrddin in Carmarthen and preparations for the sacrifice were made."

But this child was no ordinary child, he was Merlin the wizard. 

Merlin explained to the king what was happening, telling him two dragons lay sleeping under a lake inside the mountain and they were the ones destroying the foundations to his castle each night.

North Wales Pioneer: Did you know the wizard Merlin is mentioned in Welsh legend?Did you know the wizard Merlin is mentioned in Welsh legend? (Image: Getty Images)

Labourers were commanded to dig deep into the mountain and upon doing so found exactly what Merlin had described. 

Legend has it the lake was drained revealing two sleeping dragons - one red and one white.

Unhappy they had been awoken the dragons fought. Eventually, the white dragon flew away and the red dragon returned quietly to his lair.

The Trust concluding the story said: "Vortigern’s castle was finally built and duly named Dinas Emrys in honour of Myrddin Emrys, and the red dragon has been celebrated ever since."

There is evidence that perhaps this tale could be more than a myth.

The National Trust says: "In 1945 the site was excavated by archaeologists who discovered a lake and the ruins of a fortress dating to Vortigern’s time.

"The walls all showed signs of having been rebuilt several times. Could this be the site of the legendary tale?"

Ysbyty Ifan

This peaceful village with its rolling hills, farmsteads and stunning scenery links back to medieval Wales and contains an "exciting history" full of knights, pilgrims and bandits according to The National Trust. 

The Trust says: "Until 1190 Ysbyty Ifan was known as Dôl Gynwal (Welsh for Gynwal's Meadow).


"It was renamed Ysbyty Ifan (meaning hospital of St John) after it came to the attention of the Knights of St John, an order of Hospitallers, who were bound to protect pilgrims on their way to the Holy Land and on religious journeys.

"They chose to set up a hospital and hostel to care for pilgrims in Ysbyty Ifan as it was located on several ancient pilgrimage routes, including Bangor-on-Dee and Holywell in north-east, and to Ynys Enlli /Bardsey Island off the tip of the Llŷn peninsula."

After the Glyndwr uprising in the 15th century, Ysbyty Ifan became known as a "haven for criminals" as it was the hideout for some of Wales’ most famous outlaws and rebels, including gwylltiaid cochion Mawddwy (the red bandits of Mawddwy).