Nant Gwrtheyrn – Gwynedd, Wales - Atlas Obscura
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Gwynedd, Wales

Nant Gwrtheyrn

An abandoned quarrying village turned commune is now a hub for learning the Welsh language. 

Nant Gwrtheyrn is nestled within a gorgeous Welsh valley framed by steep hills and the Irish Sea. Though the small, isolated settlement is now home to the National Welsh Language and Heritage Centre, it has had a few curious previous lives.

In 1861, a granite quarry opened in the remote valley. It supplied granite setts that were used to make the cobblestone roads that stretched across the United Kingdom. Workers lived in a cluster of cottages, which formed a village called Port y Nant.

The residents had little contact with the outside world. At the time, there were few land-based methods of getting to and from the village, so the quarrymen and their families had to rely on materials shipped in via the Irish Sea. These transport troubles, as well as a drop in demand, caused the villages to close in the early years of World War II.

Hippies briefly invaded the village after its abandonment. Called the New Atlantis Commune, they survived without running water, electricity, or a working sewage system. Sadly, the free-spirited squatters trashed the houses and let their settlement fall into ruin. They later relocated to Dornish Island, John Lennon’s hippie haven off the coast of Ireland.

After better access roads were built in the 1980s, the tiny village once again found its stride. It houses the National Welsh Language and Heritage and Center, which teaches Welsh to adults looking to pick up a second language. People can pop into the village for an overnight stay in one of the old quarrymen’s cottages, and can even get married on the picturesque property.

Know Before You Go

Access is now easy by car (ensure you have good brakes!) or on foot, via a very steep road. The nearest bus stop is in the nearby village of Llithfaen, approximately 1.5 miles away.

It's a great place to visit regardless of weather. It has a cafe and amenities onsite and you can even have your wedding and/or stay overnight in this picturesque village.