Myddfai and Llanddeusant
Myddfai Community Hall & Visitor Centre
Church of St Michael Myddfai
St Michael's Church has twin barrel roofs
South of Llandovery lies the village of Myddfai, the home of the Prince of Wales on his visits to the Principality. Myddfai is steeped in legend, linked with Llyn y Fan Fach (Llyn is Welsh for lake, Fan means Beacon and Fach is the mutated Bach meaning lesser) and the Physicians of Myddfai.
The story of the Lady of Llyn y Fan Fach is told in the Mabinogion, but as with all legends there are different versions. A farmer from Blaen Sawdde (the farm still exists about 2 miles North West of Llyn y Fan Fach) tending his sheep by the lake saw the most beautiful lady he had ever seen emerge from the water. She disappeared but he had fallen in love with her and returned time and time again until she agreed to marry him. She stipulated that if he ever struck her three times without cause, however gently, she would return to the lake and never see him again. They married and she bore him three sons but after each birth he gently tapped her and so she left him and returned to the lake taking all the farm animals with her. The three sons, gifted with the magical powers of their mother, became known as the Physicians of Myddfai, renowned throughout Wales. Legend has it that she appeared to them near Llidiad y Medygon (The Doctor's Gate) and taught them how to use medicinal herbs. Rhiwallon and his sons became physicians to the Lord Rhys at Dynevor who rewarded them with land around Myddfai. Their descendants continued to practice medicine, the last in Myddfai being John Jones who died in 1739, but Queen Victoria's physician, Sir John Williams, also claimed descent from the Physicians of Myddfai.
The area around Myddfai and Llyn y Fan Fach is still rich in medicinal herbs. The home of one of the Physicians' descendants, Llwyn Meredydd, still in existence was the site of the herb garden. Wormwood was one of the herbs commonly used and Prince Charles has purchased Llwynywormwood Farm (Wormwood Grove).
Llyn y Fan Fach can be found beneath the Black Mountain and can be reached on foot by a track of some one and a half miles from the road, signposted from the village of Llanddeusant. The quiet at the lake is broken only by the sound of birds and the occasional splash of jumping fish. It is not difficult to imagine mystical happenings here.
Carmarthen Fan Part of the Black Mountain
Fan Brycheiniog, the Highest Point of the Black Mountain at 802 Metres
The Church of Sts Simon & Jude
The present church with its twin barrel vaulted ceilings dates from the 14th century, though legend has it that the original 6th century church miraculously moved to its present site from Twynllannan, some two miles away.
The church looks out on to Carmarthen Fan
Llanddeusant is a scattered parish beneath the Black Mountain. Its name meaning Church of Two Saints derives from the belief that St Teilo and Saint David met in the village, though the church is dedicated to St Simon and St Jude which may also explain the name. It is the nearest village to Llyn y Fan Fach and has a Youth Hostel.
The Fans in Winter
The Red Kite
It is also the site of a Red Kite Feeding Station, signposted from the A40. The Red Kite was one of the most populous birds in the country, the skies of London were once filled with these large scavenging birds but by the start of the 19th century they were restricted to the wilder areas of Mid-Wales, indeed DNA tests show that all Kites today trace their line to a single female. In Southern England they were persecuted as vermin and in the wilds of the North of England and Scotland because of the spread of shooting estates. The bird is now protected and numbers are on the increase. At the Llanddeusant feeding station they are fed daily at 3 P.M. in the summer, 2 P.M. in Winter, and 50 or more birds gather in the sky awaiting their daily feed. At other times of the day they can be seen soaring over the mountain valleys.
The wing span is 5-6 feet but the body is just 2-3 lbs, so the birds are very agile and can stay in the air using their distinctive tail for manoeuvring.
The Red Kite (Milvus Milvus) has a forked tail, that gives it its name, and has a very distinctive colouring on the underside being chestnut red with white patches on the wings and dark wing tip plumage. Although primarily scavengers they do take small mammals and even earthworms.
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Site and Photographs © Geoffrey Davies 2008-10 Contact firstname.lastname@example.org