Dewch i ddysgu am chwedlau Cymru… cerddoriaeth

Mae Cymru’n enwog fel gwlad y beirdd a’r gân, ac yma yng Ngogledd Cymru rydym yn cael ein bendithio gan gorau o safon fyd-eang, grwpiau cerddorol gwych, nifer o theatrau rhagorol, lleoliadau byw ysbrydoledig, ac artistiaid anhygoel.

Gan barhau â’n cyfres ‘Chwedlau Cymru’, aethom ati i edrych yn fwy manwl ar rai o gerddorion enwog Gogledd Cymru…

Aled Jones

Ni fyddaf fyth yn cael y straen o feddwl: “Bobol bach, mae’n rhaid i mi fynd yn ôl i’r gwaith am 9 yfory.” Gallaf gofio’r arswyd hwnnw yn blentyn, pan fyddwn yn cael bàth gyda’r Top 40 ar y radio, ac yna’n paratoi fy nghas pensiliau ar gyfer yr ysgol fore Llun.

Gan na fyddaf fyth yn arafu, rwyf fel cannwyll yn diffodd y funud y bydd fy mhen yn cyffwrdd â’r gobennydd. Ond rwy’n mwynhau bod â diwrnod llawn. Wedi’r cyfan, rwyf wedi bod yn gwneud hyn ers pan oeddwn yn 11 oed.

Aled Jones

Heddiw, mae Aled Jones yn adnabyddus ledled y wlad, ond a wyddech chi ei fod wedi cael ei ‘ddarganfod’ yn wreiddiol gan aelod o’r gynulleidfa yng Nghadeirlan Bangor?

Mae Aled Jones yn fwyaf adnabyddus am yr ail fersiwn o ‘Walking in the Air’ o’r ffilm animeiddiedig The Snowman – cyrhaeddodd fersiwn Jones rif 5 yn siartiau’r Deyrnas Unedig.

Erbyn i Jones gyrraedd yr oedran hynod o aeddfed hwnnw, 16 oed, roedd wedi gwerthu miliynau o albymau ac wedi perfformio o flaen pobl fel y Frenhines a’r Pab!

Hyd heddiw, mae’n artist recordio arobryn, ac yn adnabyddus fel cyflwynydd teledu ar raglenni sy’n cynnwys Songs of Praise a Go Back Giving Back. Mae hefyd yn cynnal slotiau rheolaidd ar Classic FM a Radio 3.

Mike Peters

Daeth Mike Peters MBE i enwogrwydd pan oedd yn brif leisydd The Alarm, band roc a ffurfiwyd yn y Rhyl ar ddechrau’r 1980au. Roedd yr Alarm yn cefnogi U2, a hyd yn oed Bob Dylan, yn ystod eu gyrfaoedd.

Aeth Peters ymlaen i ddilyn gyrfa lwyddiannus fel unawdydd, ac mae wedi perfformio mewn bandiau sydd wedi cynnwys Coloursound, Dead Men Walking, Big Country a The Mescaleros.

Cafodd Peters ddiagnosis o ganser y lymffau yn 1996, a gwellodd, ac yna cafodd ddiagnosis o lewcemia cronig yn 2005, a gwellodd eto.

Yn 2007, roedd Peters yn rhan o grŵp a dreciodd am 14 diwrnod i Base Camp Mynydd Everest i berfformio’r cyngerdd uchaf erioed ar dir er mwyn meithrin ymwybyddiaeth o’r frwydr yn erbyn canser. Enwyd Peters yn rhestr Anrhydeddau’r Flwyddyn Newydd 2019 am ei wasanaethau dros ofal canser.

Ewch i weld Mike drosoch eich hun yn ei ddigwyddiad codi arian mawr nesaf, Zip World Rocks ar 15 Mehefin 2019 yn Chwarel y Penrhyn, Bethesda. Bydd yn cael ei gynnal er budd y Love Hope Strength Foundation, a bydd yn cynnwys artistiaid cerdd lleol, a bwyd a diod, a’r cyfan yn enw achos rhagorol. 

Duffy

Pan fyddai fy nheulu yn dod at ei gilydd, byddwn bob amser yn codi ar fy nhraed ac yn diddanu pawb, ond roedd y cyfan yn dipyn o jôc. Fy atgof cyntaf go iawn o ganu o flaen pobl yw pan oeddwn tua 11 neu 12 oed.

Duffy 

A hithau’n fwyaf enwog am ei chân gofiadwy a bachog, ‘Mercy’, cafodd Duffy ei geni yn Aimee Duffy ym Mangor, a’i magu yn Nefyn, Pen Llŷn. Cafodd y gantores-gyfansoddwraig lwyddiant ysgubol gyda’i halbwm cyntaf, Rockferry, gan gyrraedd brig y siartiau a gwerthu miliynau o gopïau ledled y byd.

Yn 2008, enillodd Duffy wobr Cân y Flwyddyn MOJO am ‘Mercy’, ac fe’i henwebwyd hefyd ar gyfer Breakthrough Act ac Albwm y Flwyddyn. Y flwyddyn ganlynol, enillodd y wobr Grammy am yr Albwm Lleisiol Pop Gorau a llu o wobrau BRIT. Ar ôl cael saib o’r byd cerddoriaeth, ymddangosodd Duffy yn y ffilm Legend gyda Tom Hardy, a recordiodd gerddoriaeth ar gyfer trac y ffilm.

Yn ôl y sôn, mae’n gweithio ar albwm newydd … felly cadwch eich llygaid ar agor amdano! 

Bryn Terfel

Cymraeg yw fy mamiaith, ac mae fy mhlant yn siarad yr iaith. Os byddwch yn dod i fyw yn y gymuned hon, byddwch yn sylweddoli’n gyflym iawn ei bod yn fuddiol dysgu’r iaith gan y bydd angen i chi fod yn rhan o’r bywyd lleol os byddwch yn mynd i’r dafarn leol neu i gaffi lleol. 

Bryn Terfel 

Ganed Syr Bryn Terfel Jones CBE yn Sir Gaernarfon, a darganfu ei dalent gerddorol a’i lais bas-bariton dwfn wrth ganu caneuon gwerin traddodiadol Cymraeg.

Symudodd Terfel i Lundain yn yr 1980au, ac mae wedi mynd yn ei flaen i ennill llwyddiant rhyngwladol fel canwr clasurol, a hynny fel unawdydd a pherfformiwr operatig.

Mae wedi ennill nifer o anrhydeddau’r diwydiant ac mae’n enillydd gwobrau Gramophone Awards, Classical BRIT a Grammy.

Mae Terfel wedi canu ar hyd a lled y byd, a pherfformiodd yr anthem ar gyfer Cwpan Rygbi’r Byd 1999. Rhyddhaodd Terfel Dreams & Songs yn 2018, casgliad o’i hoff ganeuon.

Mae’r canwr yn huawdl ei gefnogaeth i’r iaith Gymraeg a’i ardal enedigol yng Ngogledd Cymru.

Mae ganddo flwyddyn brysur iawn o’i flaen yn 2019, wrth iddo berfformio ledled y byd. Gallwch ei weld yn Llundain ym mis Mehefin, pan fydd yn chwarae rhan Scarpia yn Tosca yn y Tŷ Opera Brenhinol.

Catfish and the Bottlemen

Pan enillodd Catfish and the Bottlemen y wobr The Brit Award for British Breakthrough Act, edrychai’r canwr Van McCann fel dyn na allai wir gredu ei lwc – ond hwn oedd y canlyniad iawn.

Evening Standard, 2016 

Wedi’i ffurfio yn nhref glan môr Llandudno, mae Catfish and the Bottlemen wedi saethu i enwogrwydd byd-eang yn y blynyddoedd diwethaf. Yn 2016, bu i’r band indi, a enwyd ar ôl un o atgofion y canwr blaen, Van McCann, o’i deithiau yn Awstralia, ennill statws platinwm ar gyfer ei albwm cyntafThe Balcony.

Ar ôl ennill y wobr BBC Introducing a gwobr BRIT, rhyddhaodd y band ail albwm, The Ride, a gafodd gymeradwyaeth allweddol a masnachol. Mae ymddangosiadau mewn gwyliau, gan gynnwys Reading & Leeds, T in the Park, Ibiza Rocks a hyd yn oed y New York Governor’s Ball, wedi cadarnhau eu bod yn un o’r perfformiadau cerddorol mwyaf cyffrous yn y Deyrnas Unedig.

Rhyddheir yr albwm newydd sbon, The Balance, ar 26 Ebrill 2019, a bydd y band yn chwarae yn Arena Motorpoint Caerdydd ar eu taith albwm yn y Deyrnas Unedig! Gallwch ddod o hyd i ragor o wybodaeth yma

Dewch draw i’n blog eto’n fuan ar gyfer y bennod nesaf yn ein cyfres Chwedlau Cymru.

Images courtesy: Aled Jones by Simon Harries, 2009. Mike Peters statue, courtesy of Blazing MInds via Flickr, 2013. Duffy courtesy of José Goulão from Lisbon, Portugal via Creative Commons License. Bryn Terfel by Frankie Fouganthin via Creative Commons License. Catfish and the Bottlemen by Hazza77 via Creative Commons License.

Slate is great! Ways to explore Snowdonia’s slate heritage

In our regular monthly blog series, writer and hiker Phil Thomas shares the trade secrets of his passion: the Great Outdoors. He lives in North Wales and spends most of his spare time writing or walking in the hills with his girlfriend and their crazy Patterdale terriers.

Until recently, the slate mines and quarries of Snowdonia and North Wales were little more than scars on the landscape. They were vast, silent reminders of a time when Wales put roofs on buildings around the world.

Now, abandoned slate quarries are filled with walkers, mountain bikers, and even zip-liners buzzing overhead on high-speed wire runways. Trains and tramlines designed to ship slate from the mountains to the coast have been transformed into heritage railways, while level paths and cycleways take wanderers through some of Snowdonia’s best scenery away from the noise and fumes of road traffic.

Caverns boast via ferrata, abseilers and even trampoline adventure courses. In among the high-octane mayhem, there are well-planned historical tours where you can learn about the slate industry and the harsh life endured by those who worked in it.

However you like your great outdoors, there’s an adventure amongst the slate for you. Are you ready to explore Snowdonia’s slate country?

Snowdonia’s slate country for walkers

For walking, there’s really only one place to start – the Snowdonia Slate Trail. This 83-mile circular trail joins together some of the best slate sites, including the world-famous Penrhyn, Dinorwig and Cwt-y-Bugail quarries near Bethesda, Llanberis and Blaenau Ffestiniog respectively. You’ll explore abandoned settlements, mines and quarries (always heed warning signs) and enjoy wonderful scenery throughout. Rail enthusiasts will be in their element, as the trail takes you to the Penrhyn Quarry Railway, Llanberis Lake Railway, Snowdon Mountain Railway, the Welsh Highland Railway and the Ffestiniog Railway.

The trail can be split into seven shorter sections, all of which are described on the Snowdonia Trail website.*

Splitting from the Trail at Llanberis, you can now walk safely and legally through the disused upper levels of Dinorwig Quarry, above the entrance to Electric Mountain hydroelectric power station. The route described on the Mud and Routes website is an extended version that you can cut short by climbing the steep, zig-zag path to the south of Vivian quarry and past the atmospheric ruins of rows of quarryman’s cottages.

Snowdonia’s slate country for history buffs

To learn about the history of Welsh slate, make a beeline to the National Slate Museum in Llanberis. Just five minutes’ walk from our hotel, the museum makes use of former slate buildings and works and includes slate-splitting demonstrations as well as many museum pieces, free events and a regular programme of changing exhibitions.

If the National Slate Museum gives you fascinating glimpses into how slate quarrying worked above ground, Slate Mountain (formerly Llechwedd Slate Caverns) near Blaenau Ffestiniog takes you deep below ground too. At the time of writing, Slate Mountain offers three tours – one to the quarries in the hills above Blaenau, one into the deep mine via Britain’s steepest tramway, and a “grand tour’ that combines both. A nice touch is The Quarryman’s Tavern traditional Welsh pub found onsite, so after your adventures – and before you grab a bite to eat in the cafe – why not discuss your experiences over a drink?

Over at Penrhyn Quarry near Bethesda, Zip World also runs a quarry tour for those that don’t fancy the zipwire experience. You can also watch the zippers fly past from the windows of the Blondin Cafe.

Snowdonia’s slate country for adrenaline junkies

It all started with the world’s fastest zipwire at Penrhyn Quarry above Bethesda. Although the quarry is still worked, entrepreneurs Sean Taylor and Nick Moriarty saw an opportunity to build zipwires across the gaping hole in the ground, as for the most part, zipwires in the UK were confined to forest-based attractions. Now, Zip World boasts a range of adrenaline-fuelled attractions across Snowdonia. For now at least, Zip World Velocity 2 (as it’s called) at Penrhyn remains the ultimate thrill ride.

At Blaenau Ffestiniog, Zip World combined three pulse-racing attractions at the Llechwedd complex of quarries and caverns. Titan was the first, a longer zip-wire down the mountain. If Velocity 2 looks too much, Titan has you sitting upright rather than zipped into body-pouches, perfect for families and small groups. Zip World Caverns turns the slate mines into an underground assault course, with more zipwires, rope bridges, via ferrata and more. Perhaps the most dazzling attraction is Bounce Below, a series of nets and trampolines strung across huge caves lit with multi-coloured lights. With more emphasis on having fun, Bounce Below is probably the most family-friendly attraction, especially if you have younger ones.

Go Below started life offering ‘underground adventures’ in the mines above Penmachno, that included an underground lake crossing by boat, zipline, abseil and waterfall climb. Since gaining rights to use Cwmorthin mine above Tanygrisiau near Blaenau Ffestiniog, the outfit has added three more challenging adventures, including one that includes the deepest mine descent followed by an ascent of Snowdon in one day, making a total ascent of almost 5,000ft from bottom to top.

Cwmorthin is the largest and deepest slate mine in the world, with more than 50 miles of tunnels and caverns. Go Below’s adventures here (Hero Extreme and Ultimate Extreme) are not for the faint-hearted, and suffice to say you need a reasonable level of physical fitness. Yet for all the shrieking you might do, it’s the picnic perched on a wooden bench bolted to an underground cliff-face that leaves the biggest lasting impression. Staring into the vast black cavern is a genuinely haunting experience.

Snowdonia’s slate country for railway fans

Another legacy of the slate industry is the comprehensive network of railways and tramways it left behind. Most remain as obvious straight lines gently (and sometimes not so gently!) contouring the hillsides.

The railway from Blaenau Ffestiniog to the port at Porthmadog was one of the first to be transformed into a narrow gauge attraction, and remains Snowdonia’s most famous and popular ride. Ffestiniog Railway has been joined by the Welsh Highland Railway, which for the most part follows the old Nantlle and Croesor slate railway routes.

On a smaller scale is the lakeside railway at Llanberis. Unlike the heritage railways alongside Bala lake (Llyn Tegid) and at Llangollen, Llanberis Lake Railway owes its existence to the slate industry. Finally, Porthmadog has a second railway attraction in the form of the Welsh Highland Heritage Railway. Not to be confused with the railway from Porthmadog to Caernarfon, this section formed part of the original Welsh Highland Railway, created as the slate industry was on the wane. It lasted just 15 years! Today, Welsh Highland Heritage Railway sets itself apart from other railway attractions as the short, hour-long rail journey is just part of the experience. It’s a treat for real rail enthusiasts, where you get to climb the cab and learn all about the workings as well as the history of this ill-fated line.

So, where once people headed past the slate for the natural beauty of Snowdonia, the quarries and mines of this world-renowned industry are now buzzing once again. It’s hard to imagine what those who once worked in such dangerous and challenging conditions might make of it. Today’s visitors will leave safely at the end of the day, thrilled and perhaps a little wiser to what made Snowdonia the place it is today.

* The Slate Trail now has an app, handy for those poor/no-mobile signal areas. Currently only available for iPhone – an Android version is promised soon.

Images courtesy: Dinorwig Quarry by Hefin Owen. Zip World at Penrhyn Quarry by Mike Hudson [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)]. Ffestiniog Railway on the Cob embankment at Porthmadog, by Peter Trimming.