Gavin's Adventures on the Mystical Island of Britain -- Part 34

A list of the adventures.

Arthur's Labryinth

I travelled through the misty mountains of Snowdonia, and around lunch time found myself in a place called Corris. Even if I had not been very hungry, I would have stopped, for at Corris was a circle of small shops, each with a craftsman working at his own craft. I was reminded of Esmerel, where the owner of each wagon and stall displays his or her own wares, and works on them while the visitors pass. The only difference was that here there were buildings instead of wagons.

I was hungry enough to want to find some food first. There was only one place to eat and it was very crowded, so I decided simply to order chips. The service was unfriendly, but I put it down to the fact that they were so busy. After half an hour of waiting, I was not feeling so charitable, and I left without eating.

Although I was hungry, I explored the craft fair thoroughly, and found it very interesting. A candle maker was making elaborate curly candles, in all colours. I watched her decorate one of them by hand, with complicated curls which reminded me of other Celtic art I had seen.

In the next shop, a leather-worker was making a belt, but still had time to talk to me about his trade. I bought three of his leather bracelets, of different sizes and colours. They would make good presents for my friends back in Esmerel.

A glass-blower clearly loved making the dragons that are the symbols of Wales. He had dragons all over his shop, in all sizes, some of them very large. Some were fighting, some eating, some holding crystals. Each was unique, and he had kept track of who had bought each of his previous large dragons. Like a good Walding, he also produced other glass for sale, including the cute animals that people wanted, but the dragons were clearly what he loved to do. I bought a small red one, the red dragon being the true Welsh one. He was interested to know that it would be travelling with me all over the world. He told me of several of his other dragons, including one which had gone all the way to Australia.

He also told me of a tour of "Arthur's Labyrinth", in a deserted mine. I had never been in a mine before, and of course, I always liked the idea of hearing tales of Arthur. I was interested to see if the Welsh versions would be different from other versions I had heard.

I joined the tour, and was given a hard hat to wear. To my surprise, the tour started on a boat. The boatman was a dark and silent figure, and we glided along an underground river, eventually passing from this world into the mystical world where Arthur and Merlin still exist.

Once we reached the other side, we walked through dark caverns, hearing the tales and seeing lighted tableaus of scenes of the lives of Merlin and Arthur. I was glad of the hard hat, as it was dark and the ceiling and floor were uneven. Sometimes we walked bent over for quite some time, and it was easy to catch my head on a sudden overhang. If I had not been wearing the hard hat, I would have come out of there with a severe headache.

The tales of Merlin and Arthur were different from those I had heard before, and concentrated much more on Merlin, in spite of the name of the tour. It was interesting to hear the original Welsh stories, though I was distracted by the darkness and the magic of the mine. I remember I was told about a great fight between the red dragon of Wales and the white dragon. I have forgotten the details, but I believe the white dragon won when Merlin was defeated, and that Wales is still waiting for the red dragon to wake again. If any Welsh or knowledgeable readers would like to fill in the gaps in my dragon story, please write to me.

I was not surprised that the tour concentrated on Merlin, for I knew that I was near his birthplace here. Legend has it that Merlin was born in Carmarthen, which I hoped to visit the next day.

Mail comments and contributions to Gavin.


- The previous adventure: The Druids' Isle of Anglesey.
- The next adventure: The Birthplace of Merlin.
- Go back to the front gate.

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