Remote, surrounded by hills, clouds and sheep, Llyn Barfog, or the Bearded Lake in English, is a small tarn fringed with reeds and covered with water lilies in the summer. It is the site of multiple Welsh legends and features in the well-known children’s fantasy series The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper.
One of the most powerful Llyn Barfog legends concerns King Arthur, who was asked to rid local people of the curse of the Afanc, a monster that dwelled in the lake and killed anyone who ventured close. This he did with the aid of his magical mare, Llamrei, creeping up on the beast and chaining it to drag it out of the lake. The struggle between mare and monster was so strong that Llamrei left her hoof prints in the rocks near Llyn Barfog, and they can still be seen in Carn March Arthur, a collection of rocks, signposted by an engraved slab of Welsh slate, just a little way from Llyn Barfog itself. The Afanc was apparently either killed or banished to an even more remote lake, but Llyn Barfog remains remote, lonely and mysterious to this day.
The lake is reachable only on foot, and while the walk can be long the views, over the Cwm Maethion (Happy Valley) to the north and the Dovey Estuary to the south are spectacular.
Know Before You Go
Llyn Barfog can only be reached on foot, and the last part of the path is rough. From Aberdyfi town, the walk is between 2 and 3 hours, starting with a steep climb up metalled roads, and then a long walk along the top of the hills with spectacular views on both sides - the Dyfi Estuary to the south, and the Happy Valley to the north.
A shorter walk is possible from the Happy Valley- drive up the Happy Valley and there is a car park close to a farm.
Both walks pass through working farmland with sheep and cows. Gates should always be closed and dogs on leads. There are no facilities at Llyn Barfog.