Locations and Route:
The Harlech Literary Trail has been compiled to enable you to follow and visit some of the town’s literary heritage.
Start in car park at the end of Beach Road in Harlech. From here you are in easy walking distance of the beach where Shakespeare thought Richard II might have landed in 1399, and admired the view of the castle. From here you can see Harlech’s magnificent location, the rock on which the Court of Bendigeidfan was located according to the Mabinogi.
As you drive back along Beach Road you will pass through the Royal St Davids Golf Course where Robert Grave and Siegfried Sassoon played golf during the First World War. At the end of the road on the left is Ysgol Ardudwy where Philip Pullman and Mari Strachan taught by the charismatic Enid Jones (1920-2013).
Turn left along A496 for about half a mile. Stop in entrance to Ty Canol estate on left. This gives a good view up to the hillside on right with to ‘Erinfa’ It is a distinctive grey stone house with a turret at either end. It was the home of Alfred Perceval Graves and where Robert Graves spent much of his childhood. From the same location you can see the rugged ground about Harlech, which is celebrated in a poem by Robert Graves- ‘Rocky Acres’. Some think it’s one of Graves’ best poems. He also celebrates the area in Goodbye to All That.
From Ty Canol proceed along the road to Ynys. In the hamlet there is a left turn signposted to the church – Llanfihangel-y-Traethau. In the churchyard is the grave of Richard Hughes. The grave is behind the church on far side towards north wall; fourth one in directly opposite two trees growing closely together. This is quite close to his house ‘Mor Edrin’ but it can’t be seen from here and is there is no public access to it.
Return to main road and proceed to junction with B4573; turn left toward Harlech. On left (signposted) is narrow lane to Maes-y-Neuadd. 200 yards before hotel (sign says it is 200 yards to hotel) is an over-grown and ruined cottage where Richard Hughes lived 1918-21.
On to the entrance to hotel. Robert Graves lived her for a time; his wife thought she’d seen a ghost there and he wrote a poem ‘The Pier-Glass’ about it.
Turn back on to road and turn left towards Harlech. Lasynys is on right. This was the home of Ellis Wynne. Its unusual position avoided building on the sea marsh and the hill to the west provided shelter. Most of the house was built around 1600, though some of it dates from around 1500 and it was improved internally and extended in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. It was sensitively restored and preserved about 20 years ago and is open to the public for a small admission charge.
Carry on towards Harlech. We pass below ‘Erinfa’ but it is hidden in trees. Nearby is Gweithdy Bach where Robert Graves lived for a time.
Carry on through Harlech turning left on to Old Llanfair Road. This takes you past, on left, 5 Rock Terrace, Mari Strachan’s early home. The Earth Hums in B Flat in a fictional terrace up the hill from Rock Terrace, backing on to Bron-y-Graig. Blow on a Dead Man’s Embers in terrace at right angles to road the old Llanfair Road, looking towards Snowdon.
Drive down into Llanfair and turn right before the village. ‘Frondeg’ where Rhiannon Jones Davies spent some of her early life is on right at junction with main A496. It is now a B&B and has a prominent sign.
Cross main road to Llandanwg. c. 150 yards on left is terrace associated with Philip Pullman carry on to Llandanwg Church. Immediately inside gate is tomb of Sion Phylyp. Here you are near Mochras (or Shell Island) where he farmed.
Go back to crossroads and turn left to Harlech. At the top of St David’s Hill turn right into Harlech. Proceed to castle. Beside it is the ‘Two Kings’ statue, by Ivor Robert Jones erected in 1984. It is inspired by the story of Branwen in the Mabinogi and there is an explanation of its meaning on the nearby plaque. Robert Graves describes climbing into the castle it at night and generally using it as an adventure playground.
Having started with a distant view of the castle you have finally arrived there by a circuitous route through a rich and varied literary landscape. We hope you have enjoyed the journey.