Learning to speak the Welsh language - Dal ati, daliwch ati

Learning to speak the Welsh language can be a challenge. But the idyllic coastal setting of Llithfaen, near Pwllheli, is proving an allure that's difficult to beat WORDS BY RACHAEL HOGG PHOTOGRAPHY BY JOHN COCKS

Porth y Nant and Nant Gwrtheyrn fact file:

Nant Gwrtheyrn is located near the village of Llithfaen on the Northern Coast of the Llyn Peninsula, Gwynedd, in Northwest Wales.

Nant Gwrtheyrn in English translates to Vortigern’s Creek. Vortigern was a British 5th Century Warlord.

According to legend, Gwrtheyrn castle was destroyed by a fire from heaven.

The road down to Nant Gwrtheyrn has long been used as a ‘corkscrew’ testing ground by motor firms due to its many bends, but has been vastly improved during the 5 million pound refurbishment.

The quarry first opened in 1861, and closed during World War II due to a lack of demand and transport difficulties.

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For further details visit www.nantgwrtheyrn.org

Dal ati, daliwch ati means ‘Keep at it, don’t give up’

Once a derelict and abandoned Victorian quarry village, the intriguing and remote Welsh language centre, Porth y Nant (or ‘The Nant’), certainly has an interesting past.

The quarry - which opened in 1861 - was closed during the Second World War and soon the community dispersed leaving the cottages to fall into decay eventually. It was occupied by hippies in the 1960s and again abandoned before being rescued in recent years. A National Lottery grant has helped towards the revival.

Today the centre offers the chance to study the Welsh language in a beautiful setting, turning the educational experience into something of a refreshing holiday. After a five million pound refurbishment, completed earlier this year, the village now boasts 24 terraced cottages, furnished to 4* quality, to accommodate residents on the language courses.

Courses from complete beginner to proficient, lasting over a weekend or over five days, and including visits to local sites such as Caernarfon Castle, are proving popular. Aside from this, ‘The Nant’ offers the chance to discover the mysterious folk tale of doomed lovers and subsequent alleged sightings of their ghosts at The Meinir’s Tree.

The Heritage Centre boasts a wealth of information on the history and development of the area; the Quarryman’s cottage highlights how a quarryman and his family would have lived in 1910 at the height of the quarry’s manufacturing; and then there’s the beach, and the many stunning walks to enjoy around the area.

Mair Saunders, who works at Nant Gwrtheyrn said: ‘You can’t capture the magic in a bottle or a picture. Photographs will not do the area justice, you really do have to visit and see the beauty for yourself.’ And it is not just the Welsh who visit the village, people from many different countries attend. Although the language centre is at the hub of Porth y Nant, an equal number of people visit merely for the scenery and history, perhaps to meditate, or just relax.

The Nant Gwrtheyrn wedding venue, located in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, provides intimacy and an unusual location for a wedding day. There is both a chapel and reception hall seating up to 100 guests, the dining room with space for 150 guests for wedding breakfast, and room for up to 300 evening guests. Accommodation for up to 76 adults (and extra space for children) is found throughout the cottages.

So if you fancy escaping to this secluded village set in 200 acres, there are some special events coming up. On October 22nd, there’s an evening of Welsh music from Bryon Fon and his band, Gwybdaith Hen Fran, and others. On November 19th there’s an early Christmas Fair to get you in the festive mood, and if you really want to celebrate in true Welsh fashion, from December 9 -11 the language centre is offering ‘The Welsh Christmas Course’ for all levels of Welsh speakers.

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