Posted by: Richard Neale | August 1, 2011

Swimming Success

An evening swim at Llyn Dinas

The appeal fund received a boost last week when £250 arrived at our office following  a charity swim on the Thames.

Heather Letley and Matthew Jones completed the 2.25 mile swim two weeks ago.

They were inspired to help the appeal, having enjoyed many swimming trips to Llyn Dinas.

I notice that they are still receiving donations on their justgiving site – so there’s still time to help!

We’d love to hear more about the event, so Heather and Matthew, if you see this, please leave a comment to let us know how it went.

A big “Diolch yn Fawr” (thank you) to you both…

Posted by: Richard Neale | July 28, 2011

Artist Helps Appeal

Be the first to own this rare print and help the appeal

People the length and breadth of the country have responded to the call to help raise the £1million needed to buy Llyndy Isaf in Snowdonia.

Today, award-winning artist Tina Holley has pledged her support to the Snowdonia Appeal by donating 20 special-edition numbered prints of Moel Hebog, painted from Llyn Dinas.

You can be one of the few owners of these exclusive one-off prints by visiting Ty Isaf, the National Trust shop by the bridge in Beddgelert.   These individually signed prints are supplied unframed in a conservation quality mount and every penny of  the £95 price goes to help our Llyndy Isaf Campaign.

I knew Tina and her husband Frank when I was the Trust’s Beddgelert Warden.  Knowing that he was a keen beekeeper I once called Frank to collect a troublesome bee swarm that had landed on a busy footpath.

For 17 years Tina and her family had a small farm at Cae Dafydd, just along the lane from Llyndy Isaf, where they kept rare breeds of farm animals and also where she opened her first gallery. She has undertaken commissioned work for national bodies, including the RSPB and the National Trust and for other individuals and organisations. Her work has also taken her to Europe and the South Western United States where she was the first non-American to be selected for an artist residency in the Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. Tina is now based at Bodnant Garden, the National Trust garden in the Conwy Valley, but the light and landscapes of the Beddgelert area of North Wales still inspire much of her work.

Posted by: Richard Neale | July 26, 2011

Roast Beef Dinner on a Mountain

Tables laid, candles lit, flags hoisted and everything ready for the banquet

This weekend I had the unusual experience of sitting down to a four-course roast beef dinner – with coffee and after dinner mints to follow – high up on a hillside at Llyndy Isaf.

I was the guest of honour of the Columbus Fellowship “Sigma Camp” which has been located every summer  in a secluded hollow tucked into the hillside above the farmhouse since 1960.   This charitable organisation, which aims to promote an interest in outdoor activities through adventure, enables children to develop self-reliance, responsibility and consideration for others.

This year, I was in the company of 101 children and young people looked after by a team of teachers presided over by the redoubtable founder-member Mike Thompson (MBE).  Mike was one of a small group of teachers that started the fellowship back in the late-fifties and he has been the driving force behind these summer camps ever since.

Before we tucked into the meal – prepared by the youngsters themselves in a highly organised camp kitchen – Mike made a speech emphasising how important it was that the National Trust appeal succeeds, so that the two organisations can work together to extend and enhance the opportunities for young people to gain inspiration from this amazing place.

I’ll raise my glass to that.

Posted by: Richard Neale | July 13, 2011

Appeal is going swimmingly

The intrepid pair on a recent swim at Llyn Gwynant


In one of the most original attempts to raise funds for Llyndy Isaf,  Heather Letley and Matthew Jones have set themselves the target of raising £250 in a rather novel way.  I’ll let them take up the story:

The National Trust need another £250,000 towards their £1m target to purchase Llyndy Isaf farm in Snowdonia. We are hoping to raise a thousandth of this by swimming 2.25 miles along the Thames from Hampton Court Palace to Kingston on Sunday 17th July.

 Our regular trips to Snowdonia now not only involve walking and climbing, but also swimming in many of the beautiful lakes in the area. On a recent visit we discovered that one of the lakes we enjoy swimming in is up for sale and that the National Trust have launched a fundraising campaign to purchase it, ensuring its protection for generations to come.

 We have been impressed by the National Trust’s management of Hafod y Llan, which was purchased by the NT in 1998 through the ‘Save Snowdon’ appeal (so much so that we almost upped sticks to run the camp site!), and know that this purchase would be a great benefit to Snowdonia.

 This swim really will be us ‘going the extra mile’, given that it’s double the distance we’re used to, so please support us and help to preserve a truly beautiful part of the UK.

To help Heather and Matthew achive their goal, click here to visit their just giving site.

I wish them both the best of luck on Sunday.


Posted by: Richard Neale | July 5, 2011


Please help us protect Llyndy Isaf for future generations. Matthew Rhys with Beddgelert school children at the launch of the appeal, 100 days ago. Photo credit: NT/Roger Richards

I’m pleased to be able to let you know that we’ve now reached the £750,000 mark in our £1m appeal to save Llyndy Isaf farm for the nation. 

The appeal has captured the imagination of thousands of people all over the country and beyond.  To raise this figure in just 100 days has been an amazing achievement.  A huge “diolch yn fawr iawn” (thank you very much) to everyone who’s already helped.


This is the point where we really need your help.  For the first 5 weeks, we raised a staggering £100,000 per week.  But for the subsequent 10 weeks the donations have slowed right down.    Of course, we were expecting this.  Like the ascent of one of our mountains, the last bit is the hardest.  So please give whatever you can afford to the appeal by clicking the Snowdonia Appeal website link on the right.

I’d like to tell you about some more acts of generosity – and about the time I took Snowdonia to London – but that will have to wait until I’m not so busy.  Keep checking the blog for news!

Posted by: Richard Neale | June 26, 2011

Llyndy Isaf, the movie: Any ideas?

Llyndy Isaf is the perfect subject for landscape photography, but how about film? Photo: ©National Trust/Joe Cornish

 I was recently contacted by a pair of film-makers, with the idea of producing a film about Llyndy Isaf. 

Joe Spiteri and Pete Dungey are graphic designers who dedicate their spare time to making films and documentaries.  

Pete explained that “we have been eagerly following the appeal to save Llyndy Isaf and would love to do our part.”  He went on to offer their services on a voluntary basis as their contribution to the appeal.

He continued  “we would really like to put our abilities to good use by telling the story of Llyndy Isaf and the campaign to protect its future”.

We are now making plans for the pair to visit and begin filming, but I thought that I would use this blog to ask for ideas of what you would like to see being covered in the film.

 Please use the ‘comments’ link to send me your ideas and play a part in this project.

Posted by: Richard Neale | June 16, 2011

New Photos of Llyndy Isaf

Joe Cornish

In early May, I reported that I’d met the renowned landscape photographer, Joe Cornish at Llyndy Isaf.    He spent a whole day until dusk capturing the scenery and unique atmosphere of this special place on camera.  Keeping the sun to his back, he worked his way across the property from east to west, ending up with a series of wonderful panoramic shots of the farm from Craig Llyn on the Snowdon side.

I’ve added a sample of his amazing work on the Photos / Lluniau tab above for you.  I’m sure we’ll be using these images to inspire people to get involved with our appeal.

If you are a National Trust member, you will have read Jan Morris’ article on “The Idea of Snowdonia” in our Summer edition of our Magazine.  It manages to capture the elusive character that lies behind the beauty of Snowdonia.  Here’s a quote:

“…whichever way you approach it, the blue-grey mass of  [Snowdonia’s]
escarpment looks formidably fortress-like, as though secrets and mighty memories are sheltered in its gullies. And so they are, because Snowdonia is more than just a geographical feature, variously defined, but is a stacked repository of the meaning of Wales itself.

Donations are still coming into the appeal, but we still have a ‘mountain to climb’ before I can assure you that Llyndy Isaf is safe.  I’ll keep you posted on news and fundraising events that we are planning through this summer.

Posted by: Richard Neale | May 9, 2011

Appeal Reaches Half Way

We’ve announced today that we’ve reached that all-important half way mark.  £500,000 in just over a month.  The interest has been great, with articles in a number of national and local newspaper as well as the BBC website.  I’ve been kept busy doing radio interviews this morning.

Over the last exciting month, tt’s been really heartening to see how people throughout Britain and beyond have cared enough about the future of beautiful places to help by dipping into their pockets to help.  As I keep on saying: every penny donated moves us closer to securing Llyndy Isaf for future generations.

We are so grateful to Katherine Zeta Jones for her support for the appeal.  It would be wonderful if she would one day be able to follow the lead of her compatriot Sir Anthony Hopkins, and see the results of her support.  Anthony Hopkins  helped us secure Snowdon and Hafod y Llan farm back in 1998 and visited on a number of occasions.

If you are new to this blog, you can find out more about Llyndy Isaf by looking through the posts below – there are articles and pictures that will help you appreciate what this wonderful place has to offer.  If you want to be kept informed of new posts about how the appeal is doing, just click the ‘sign m up’ button on the right.

Posted by: Richard Neale | May 8, 2011

Epic cycle challenge boosts appeal

Julie and Mark Allen at the start of their epic challenge

I’ve just received news that Julie and Mark Allen, from Denbigh have completed their challenge of cycling three times up the French peak of Mont Ventoux in one day – all in aid of raising funds for our Llyndy Isaf campaign.

It was their love of Snowdonia that inspired them to move to North Wales a few years ago and they were keen to do something in return for the pleasure the mountains have given them. 

The Allens are keen cyclists and have already conquered the mountain, which is considered one of the toughest on the Tour de France race, in previous holidays to France.   But to achieve this three times in a day is considered one of the greatest accolades in cycling – one that allows those who’ve done it membership of the exclusive Club de Cinglès.  The undertaking involves 4,443 meters of climbing (over four times the total height of Snowdon) and a total distance of 136km. 

Julie can now boast that she’s the first Welsh woman to have undertaken the challenge – and Mark is the first Northern Irishman.

They have already raised £610 and are aiming to reach their target of £1,000.  They are still collecting sponsorship, so please go to to help the cause.

Llongyfarchiadau mawr i’ch dau a diolch yn fawr am eich cymorth!

Posted by: Richard Neale | May 4, 2011

I can’t keep away from Llyndy!

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Royal weddings and family commitments notwithstanding, I still managed to fit in two visits to Llyndy Isaf on the weekend.

I met the well-known landscape photographer, Joe Cornish on Saturday.  He was on his way from a photo shoot at the Trust’s Dolmelynllyn estate and we’d asked him to get some more photos of Llyndy Isaf.  We had a short walk and met owner Ken Owen for a chat.  Joe was going to get some shots of the sun setting over the farm – I can’t wait to see the photos!

On Sunday, I ‘beat the bounds’ of the farm and the photos above are the result.  It was an amazingly sunny day and the woods were alive with bird and insect life.  I noticed that most of the heather on the mountain has died back over the winter.  I must ask Sabine, our wildlife officer if she knows what’s caused this. 

We are currently collating the figures for donations that have been received so far and I hope to update you soon on where we’ve got to!

Posted by: Richard Neale | April 22, 2011

Busy week for Appeal

The arrival of the cuckoo heralds a busy week for the Llyndy campaign ©NTPL

The holiday gives me a chance to update you on what has been a busy week for our appeal.

Dydd Llun (Monday)

I receive a phone call from Julie, a keen cyclist who’s had the idea of conquering Mont Ventoux – famous for being one of the toughest sections of the Tour de France – with her husband, Mark.  All in aid of raising funds to help us purchase Llyndy Isaf.  What a wonderful story this will make when this happens!   We are in discussions with these intrepid supporters and I will keep you posted.

Dydd Mawrth

I take a call from Beth, who works at our head office.  She’s been contacted by the Royal Oak Foundation who would like to help by applying for a donation from an American foundation which helps the environment.  I provide her with information about some of the environmental improvements we would carry out at Llyndy if we succeed in securing it.  I’ll let you know if we are successful.

On my return to the office at Craflwyn I’m greeted with the news that the first cuckoo has been heard calling from the hillside above Llyn Dinas.

Dydd Mercher

To Dolgellau to give a talk to the Meirionnydd Association of National Trust Members about the Appeal.  Together with the Eryri Association, the work of these loyal supporters often goes unrecognised by the general public.    At the end of my talk, group treasurer Eifion stood up to announce the donation of £2,000 to the Llyndy campaign – to enthusiastic applause by the members – and me!  This wonderful donation represents a whole year’s fundraising work for the 100-member -strong Association.  I can’t thank them enough.  For more information about how to get involved with our Associations in Snowdonia, see the links on the right.

Dydd Iau

Met a Trust supporter who has decided to help Llyndy, but wanted to see for himself where his donation would go to.    After a pleasant guided walk around the lake in beautiful weather, he strolled off to take in the atmosphere of the place on his own.  The lake was glinting in the sunshine; swallows swooped over the water, a pair of ducks flew overhead, lambs could be heard bleating in the fields and birdsong drifted from the greening woods.  After a while, he returned to me and my colleague and said thoughtfully, “…it’s perfect”.

In a week’s time we’ll be one month into the campaign and I hope to provide you with a running total of all funds raised then, so watch this space!

Posted by: Richard Neale | April 14, 2011

Llyndy’s Forgotten Past

Llyndy Isaf, one of 5 cottages that once stood around Llyn Dinas

If you could travel back in time to visit Llyn Dinas over a century ago, you would look out across a landscape quite different to what we see today.

What is now a wild-looking and mostly uninhabited landscape, was then intensively farmed and home to at least 5 families.  On a calm day, you would have seen and smelt peat smoke drifting from the chimneys of simple stone dwellings tucked into the folds of the hillsides.  You may also have heard, echoing across the lake’s quiet waters, the barking of dogs, the crowing of a cockerel or the sound of children at play.   More likely than not, you would see figures – men, women and children – at work here and there around the lake.  Cutting peat, gathering sheep, mowing bracken, milking a cow with stool and pail, digging a ditch, bark stripping… or a myriad other tasks, depending on the season and time of day.

Going anti-clockwise from the lake’s outlet, these cottages were: Tan yr Allt, Penrhyn Gwartheg, Bwlch Derw, Llyndy Isaf and Tallyn Dinas.  Other  cottages and squatters’ shelters  – some of them poverty-stricken hovels – were tucked into the scrubby hillsides nearby.

A rare glimpse of life in these rustic dwellings can be found in an essay written for a local Eisteddfod at the turn of the last century.  The wife of the sawyer that lived in Tallyn Dinas, would rise before dawn and climb up to a copper mine high on the rugged slopes of Lliwedd.  With her were her two eldest sons, and together they carried packs of copper ore down to the waiting carts in the valley-bottom.  After receiving a few pennies for their troubles, they returned to the cottage to make breakfast for the rest of the family and start the day’s work.

Now, just one farm looks out over the lake – Llyndy Isaf.  Next to the well-proportioned 1900 farmhouse stands its ancient predecessor, now in ruins.  Ken Owen has the only picture I know of which shows the old house before its abandonment.  With his permission, I have scanned it and added it at the top of this post for you to get an idea of what these old houses looked like.

Pwy fydd yma ymhen can mlynedd?

What changes will happen in the next 100 years do you think?

Posted by: Richard Neale | April 10, 2011

Appeal Update

Appeal Ambassador, Matthew Rhys, at the launch two weeks ago

Its now nearly two weeks since we launched our appeal to raise £1m to save one of Snowdonia’s most unspoilt places – Llyndy Isaf.

Since then, not a day has gone by without me answering queries and writing letters of thanks to people who’ve sent in their contributions.  I’ve been struck by how much this place means to people and how they genuinely want to help us keep it as beautiful as it is now.

Early on Saturday morning, I talked about the appeal on the BBC Radio Cymru, Galwad Cynnar programme. I’m hoping that Gerallt Pennant and the team will be able to broadcast a whole programme from Llyndy later in the spring.  It would make a perfect location.  With so much wildlife and history, there’s just so much to talk about!

It’s too soon to report on how much has been received so far.   My letter has been sent out to thousands of NT members last week and we are beginning to receive donations large and small.  I do hope that you will be able to help us by making a donation – either by cheque or by clicking the link on the right.  Every bit helps us move closer to the target.

If you are planning a visit to Snowdonia over Easter, why not take a walk to see for yourself how beautiful Llyn Dinas and Llyndy Isaf are.  Click here for a downloadable walk that takes you through the farm.


On the 22 & 23 April you can sample the delights of this area’s finest produce, and meet artisan producers at our Taster Days at the National Trust shop in Beddgelert.   On the 24 & 25 April, why not take the family for a walk with a difference – and a tasty  prize – on our Easter Egg Trail. Starts at the National Trust Shop at Beddgelert.

Posted by: Richard Neale | April 6, 2011

The Andes come to Snowdonia

Hafod y Llan farm is well-known for its hardy breed of Welsh mountain ewe and its pedigree Welsh black cattle.   Well, from today onwards, it will also be known for its Alpacas. 

These curious creatures – which are sure to make visitors to the farm do a ‘double take’  hail from an equally harsh environment on the other side of the world: the Andes of South America.

But before you think that Arwyn our farm manager has lost leave of his senses, there’s method in his madness.  It is well-known that Alpacas have a reputation for fighting off predators.   By mingling with our lambing ewes, it is hoped that the Alpacas will scare off the foxes, which last year took 50 of our lambs.

We’ve started with just two – Domenico and Emilio – to see how they work, and may take on more if they are effective.  In the meantime, our shepherds Roger and Trefor are trying to figure how on earth they are going to shear them!

Domenico & Emilio mix with the flock shortly after their arrival at Hafod y Llan today.

Posted by: Richard Neale | April 6, 2011

Craig yr Eryr

Eryr euraid (RSPB)

Yn edrych dros Lyn Dinas mae bryn creigiog o’r enw Craig yr Eryr.  Yn ôl siarter a ysgrifennwyd ar ran Llywelyn Fawr yn 1198, nodi’r fan lle’r oedd tri chantref Aberconwy, Ardudwy ac Arfon yn cyfarfod.  Yn ôl Gerallt Gymro byddai eryr yn clwydo yno unwaith yr wythnos, yn disgwyl brwydr rhwng dynion y tri chantref.

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