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St Cybi's Well (Wales)

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Historic well situated near Llangybi, Wales

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      04.11.2010 09:31
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      A hidden Gem!

      Every year we go on holiday to the lovely little village of Pwllheli which is situated within Gwynedd, Wales. The caravan which we always stay at is actually a few miles outside of Pwllheli in a Village called Llangybi. Both villages are very quiet, peaceful places surrounded by countryside, country pubs, White sandy beaches and most of all lovely people. Each time we visit we always find fun and interesting things to do. I love history, and my favourite places to visit are castles, old churches, and ruins, things like that. When I was younger my parents used to take me to interesting places like this, this is how I have a passion for them. I wanted my daughter to enjoy the same wonderful experiences so that's why it is extremely important to me that she gets to visit historic sites.



      During every holiday we have been to Pwllheli we have travelled passed a sign directing to St Cybi's well. We must have passed it six or seven times a day travelling up to Pwllheli village centre. Every time it sparked my curiosity however I always failed to act upon it. It wasn't until our last visit to Pwllheli that I saw a sign in a different place pointing in a completely different direction. This upped my curiosity even more and one evening after a long day at the beach we decided to take a trip to this elusive well.



      My planned evening of visiting a well to watch the sun set soon turned into the biggest and most fun adventure I have ever been on in the search for a historic site in my entire life. This little Well turned out to be the highlight of our holiday and the only regret I have is not visiting it sooner.


      Day 1
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      As previously stated I planned to visit the well after a long day at the beach. We followed the second sign that we had seen, not the one that we had been seeing all of our holiday. We travelled for a couple of miles down a country road before coming to another sign which was in the middle of a small village which consisted only of 5 or 6 houses and a rundown church. We assumed the sign was pointing down one of the many roads coming off of this village and after driving down them all several times we came to the conclusion it mustn't be there. It was getting very late at night so we decided to call it a day and headed back to the caravan.


      Day 2
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      My determination to find the well grew enormously and after a day packed of activities we set out to find the well again. We drove straight to the little church which was situated in a picture like setting.



      I have never seen anything like this village; it is something you would see on a film but nothing I ever expected to see. The church was placed in the middle of these few houses that circled around it. It looked ancient and by the look of the grave stones I think it was. After coming to the conclusion that the well was not down any of those roads after looking again for a second time and seeing nothing or no one apart from one car which was circling back and forth like us, I couldn't help but wonder if he was looking for this ever so elusive well. We parked up outside the church and I got out to have a look around the church whilst my partner and daughter stayed in the car. Opening the church gate I couldn't help but feel like I wasn't supposed to be there. There was a little path leading up to the church door. The church was not in use but curious as I was I took a peep through the key hole and was beautified by the wooden carvings going all the way around the top of it. This was all I could see, but the church looked like it hadn't been used for a while. I went to walk around the side of the church and found that in the over grown grass there was a path of flattened grass. I thought I was on the right track, and was quite exited thinking I would find the well behind the church, all I did find however was graves that were so old they had sunk into the ground. Too scared to move any further I decided to go back to the car. I then heard a ticking coming from the long grass, my heart was pounding, and I seriously thought that it was the dead or ghosts or something. I ran out of that grave yard so quickly almost crying, for my partner to tell me that it would have been a cricket! Feeling slightly scared, plus embarrassed about my overreaction we decided to head back to the caravan.


      Day 3
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      On our third day my partner was getting slightly annoyed. He went to see his uncle who lives in pwllheli and he told him the well was behind a church but didn't know the exact location as he had never been there before. We travelled back to the church and this time my partner went in as he was sure I must have missed it. We had never seen what the well looked like so we weren't sure if we were looking for a brick structure or a hole in the floor. Either way he came back to the car and to no avail he hadn't found the well.


      Day 4
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      This time we decided to follow the sign that we had been seeing during the holiday. This took us miles in a different direction and after half an hour driving down endless different roads and double backing on our selves we came across another sign pointing down a foot path. At this point we were starting to think that St Cybi did not want us to find his well! The sign at this place had no connection to the other signs pointing to the church and were several miles in the following direction. However we parked the car on a patch of grass and walked in the direction the sign was pointing. Right by the sign and the edge of the road was a gate. Going through this I thought something was strange. It leads to a big field which was covered in cow poo. Holding my daughter close we walked around the corner to find 20 to 30 cows staring at us. Looking around we found the other gate at the opposite side and made a dash for it. My daughter loved being so close to the cows; she had a fixation with them since seeing them on the caravan site. As for me, I was petrified. I was glad to reach the other side only to be greeted by a huge field and a disused tractor. In the middle of the field was a stone brick wall and we started to wonder if this was the remnants left from the well. Not wanting to believe this, I sent my partner down a steep embankment which at the bottom looked like a dog walking track next to a small brook. I loved all of the mystery and the adventures we were having looking for the well. However my partner came up looking annoyed as he failed to find the well. So back through the cows we walked.


      Day 5
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      It took me a very long time to convince my partner that we should include a day five to our adventure. He was getting fed up but my intense curiosity kept on growing. We drove back to the place we were the day before but instead of getting out of the car we carried on driving to see if we could spot any more signs. We found another sign pointing to a church (yes another church!) this one was larger in size and was as just remote and deserted as the other. The gates were higher and it looked like in its day this would have been a grand church. I went alone again, not wanting to unnecessarily take my daughter in to a grave yard. Again in this one there was an imprint in the grass leading around the side. Following this I came to a little gate at the bottom which leads to steps going down into a field. Rushing back to tell my partner, we followed back up the path and down the steps. I was all exited and giddy thinking we had found it just realise that we were in the same field as the one we were in the day before. I was adamant that it must be somewhere hidden within the bushes and we all set down the embankment. After walking for 15 minutes, we found it! Stood there in a little enchanted valley, in all its glory, looking better than I had ever imagined - it was there.


      St Cybi's well
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      There was a little gated entrance to the site which had a sign describing the well and a sign for the national trust. I was surprised to see this was owned by them as I would have expected them to make access a lot more easer. Through the little gate was an old rickety wooden bridge going over a little stream which runs water to the well. The setting was beautiful, there was nothing around, and it was completely in the middle of nowhere. There were little stepping stones which were cracked due to age leading up to the well. I wouldn't necessarily call it a well; it looked more like ruins of a house.



      There were two sections to it; right next door to each other, there was the well in one side and the other were the remains of a cottage. Both were in relatively good condition (for ruins) you can tell what they used to be and you can really imagine what it used to be like in its working days. In the cottage the chimney is still almost fully intact and outside structure is fully there apart from the roof. The whole thing is built from stone and in the separate well area, water still runs through it. It's a really special place and the whole atmosphere takes your breath away.



      Apart from the well and the cottage there are other stone ruins which I couldn't make out to be anything. They could have once been used as outbuilding or it could simply be a mass of stone from the main buildings, I couldn't be sure.


      The well itself is situated in a chamber and is very large in size, looking almost like a bath rather than a well. This isn't covered or protected so if you are going with children I highly advise you don't let them in their unsupervised. There is a little ledge going around the outside of the well but this is very narrow so do be careful there as well.



      Despite there being some dangers the thing I liked most about the well is that it is kept in its original state, there are no covers for anything no warning or danger signs, no restricted areas due to poor structure. Nothing. This is a surprise for a national trust property but not an unpleasant one. You are free to do as you wish! No staff in fact no visitors (well not when I was there) no body telling you, you can't take photos, eat on the site. It's perfect. It's just a secluded, forgotten about piece of beauty.


      Back in the day
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      It is believed the well and attached cottage was built and named after St Cybi who lived in the area in the 6th century. It is unknown when the well was built but evidence taken from the outer stone walls surrounding the building show that parts could have possibly been built in medieval times where apparently some other parts could possibly be prehistoric.



      In its day the well was a place of pilgrimage and the waters were presumed to cure warts, lameness, blindness, scrofula, scurvy and rheumatism. People would come from all over to reap in the cures of the well. Treatment appears to have consisted of giving patients an equal quantity of well-water and sea water, morning and evening, for a period varying from seven to ten days. They then had to bathe in the water once or twice a day, retiring after each bath to a bedchamber in the adjoining cottage where they were given a quantity of healing water to drink. The success or otherwise of the treatment was judged by whether the patient became warm in bed or remained cold, with the former condition indicating that the treatment was progressing satisfactorily. The patients used to throw pennies and pieces of silver into the water after each immersion and they would sometimes take bottles and casks of the water away with them.


      Overall opinion
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      When we were there, we had a look around the buildings and took some amazing photos. It was a very hot day so we enjoyed splashing each other with the water in the stream (at least I won't be catching, warts, lameness, blindness, scrofula, scurvy and rheumatism, whatever they are!) the water that runs to the well is completely clear, It looks like water that would run from your tap, you can see the stones at the bottom and bubbles of water crashing into them. It is a very delectable place.



      We only stayed there for around half an hour as there is not much to do, but as we now know where it is we are going to take a picnic next year when we go on holiday. It is free to access if you can find it. The only downsides are; it's not suitable for wheelchair users or people with prams. It's not child friendly and it can be boring for young children but my daughter loved splashing in the water. I would definitely recommend going, it is a wonderful piece of history with a spectacular story behind it. You can really capture the feel of the place and imagine the sick bathing in the well.

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