23 September 2017

Discovering Llyn y Fan Fach

travel blog, UK travel blog, llyn y fan fach, lifestyle blog

*This post was written in collaboration with Jack Wills.

“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” ― Eleanor Roosevelt

Last Friday, I packed my bags and set off for an adventure to discover some of the most beautiful sights in Southern Wales. I spoke a lot to my friend and fellow freelancer Heidi about going away for a long weekend and being out and about, seeing wonderful things, and not working. Being your own boss definitely has its perks, but it can also sometimes take over your life and you realise you end up working more hours than there are in the day! OK, that's impossible, but it sure feels like it some weeks. And it's not just freelancers and business owners who feel like that - when I worked in my office job which was supposed to be a 9-5, it was more like 9 till whenever the work was done, and I forgot what coming home at a reasonable time felt like.

Our generation works really hard on making our dreams come true - but as hard as we work, we also need to play to stay sane. Which is why it's very important to focus on a healthy work to life balance, and find time to get away from it all. So I packed my bag full of thick socks, walking boots, sweaters and hoodies (by the way Jack Wills have the best collection of gym hoodies womens which are perfect for active weekends away!), leggings and jeans, and snack bars because hanger is a real thing.

travel blog, UK travel blog, llyn y fan fach, lifestyle blog
travel blog, UK travel blog, llyn y fan fach, lifestyle blog

Taking the time away to have an active weekend full of new experiences was exactly what I needed. My thoughts and ideas became stale as all I was doing was staring into the computer screen battling with deadlines and client work. And my body was screaming out to go and do something, push myself physically, and just enjoy the peace of the hills.

We stayed in a cosy cottage on a local farm, and it was the recommendation of Doug and Stella (the owners of the cottage) to visit Llyn y Fan Fach. Doug even filled us in on the legend of the lake:

The story goes that a Carmarthenshire farmer once saw a beautiful woman perching on a rock in Lyn-y-Fan Fach. He fell in love, and after 3 attempts to have her heart, she agreed to marry him under the condition that he promised to treat her well. If he were to strike her 3 times without a good reason, she would return to the lake.

The farmer promised her he wouldn't strike her and would treat her well, and brought her back to his village of Myddfai to live with him as his wife, and start a family.

They had their first child, and it was the day of  the christening. The farmer was overjoyed, but the woman cried because she knew the baby would be harmed by the sun (she had magical powers and could see into the future). The farmer tapped her lightly to bring her round - he didn't know why she was crying.

Some time passed, and the woman cried at a wedding - she knew the bridegroom would unfortunately die very soon. The farmer tapped her lightly to bring her to her senses - again not understanding why she was crying. (Just ask man!!)

And then as we all could have guesses, the third strike happened when the woman laughed at the bridegroom's funeral because she knew his suffering was over and she was happy for him.

Straight after that, the woman sped back to the lake leaving the farmer and their 3 sons behind. The farmer, powerless to stop her, was left heartbroken.

As the 3 sons sons grew up, it appeared that they had inherited their mother's magical knowledge and powers. They could have used these to become great warriors, but chose instead to become the first in a long line of great healers.

Using natural products gathered from the surrounding area, the Physicians of Myddfai created cures and remedies for headaches, sunburn, swellings, coughs and sneezes. Some of these ancient remedies are recorded in the Red Book of Hergest. The book itself currently belongs to Jesus College, Oxford, and is kept in the Bodleian Library. (source: Brecon Beacons National Park)


travel blog, UK travel blog, llyn y fan fach, lifestyle blog
travel blog, UK travel blog, llyn y fan fach, lifestyle blog
travel blog, UK travel blog, llyn y fan fach, lifestyle blog

The hike to the lake is about 1.5 miles from the car park, and it's all uphill so be prepared! We packed our backpacks with water bottles, snacks, socks, sweaters, hats, waterproofs (because the weather changes in seconds!), and our tech gear (cameras, tripods, Go Pro!) and began our walk. The scenery was beautiful, and so peaceful, it made the walk a pleasure - even though I could feel my thighs burning from the climb!

There were streams and waterfalls along the way, a trout farm in the middle of the mountain, and breathtaking views of the valley. We aimed to get to the bottom of the lake, and then continue the ascend to the top of the Black Mountain, from which we could see the stunning view of the lake from above.

travel blog, UK travel blog, llyn y fan fach, lifestyle blog
travel blog, UK travel blog, llyn y fan fach, lifestyle blog
travel blog, UK travel blog, llyn y fan fach, lifestyle blog
travel blog, UK travel blog, llyn y fan fach, lifestyle blog
travel blog, UK travel blog, llyn y fan fach, lifestyle blog

I can see how people back in the day used to think places like these were magical - the views of the lake were utterly stunning. Black water flows through the green and dark hills of the valley, with the occasional fish popping up or blowing air bubbles. We stopped at the lake for a snack break, and to take in the beauty of our surroundings. Would we see a glimpse of the lady of the lake?

travel blog, UK travel blog, llyn y fan fach, lifestyle blog
travel blog, UK travel blog, llyn y fan fach, lifestyle blog
travel blog, UK travel blog, llyn y fan fach, lifestyle blog

We carried on the climb up the Black Mountain to see the stunning view of Llyn y Fan Fach. When you see it from above, it's even more incredible and majestic than we ever imagined. Standing on the edge of the cliff felt like flying - with the wind in your hair, and the views of mountains. Llyn y Fan Fach is unforgettable.

This was exactly the kind of experience I needed to motivate and inspire me, and give me the break I felt I needed. I'm going to make a conscious effort now to take time plan trips away every so often, put my phone and laptop down, and focus on new experiences. Because what do I work for, if not to experience the best out of life? And for me the best doesn't mean fancy cars, designer bags, expensive makeup; but instead the simple, good, authentic things in life and wonderful experiences.
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