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Black cats and Fairies

When a neighbour hailed me. He had a sack which clearly had in it a cat which was miaowing and spitting.

“Needs drowning, this one. Keeps fighting and mating. You take it and lob it in the lake,” he said, seeing the fishing rod.

When I got there I pulled the bedraggled, furious cat out of the sack and it promptly tried to scratch me. I wanted its suffering over quickly, even if it was the scourge of the lady cats around. So I took off my sock, put a rock in it, tied it around the cat’s neck, poor thing. But it went down quickly. I set up my rod and keeping one eye on the flock on the hillside I set about  fishing.

Llyn Cwm Llwch lies at the base of Pen Y Fan, the highest mountain in southern Britain. The lake itself is a beautiful, still mirror reflecting the ever changing sky and the surrounding hills – it feels magical. The following day was my day off, so I went to Llangorse Lake to try my luck with my rod – there are massive pike to be caught. I was happily fishing from my mate’s boat when I saw something floating on the surface of the Lake, I stopped fishing and rowed closer. I couldn’t believe my eyes. The black tom cat I had drowned miles away yesterday, was floating dead in Llangorse lake, and the cat still had my sock around its neck. The Lakes are not connected as far as I know, I don’t see how they could be. I was pretty shaken and decided to pack up. “Tom is that you”? called my dad hearing me walk into our farm house, I decided he would never believe me. So I replied, “Yes, back a bit early, the Pike weren’t taking the bait”.

All this happened just before May Day. 

All this happened just before May Day. Now, for as long as I can remember, us villagers used to walk up to Llyn Cwm Llwch which didn’t just look magical. It had a magical secret. It had a door to the fairy kingdom which would be revealed once a year on May Day when the fairies invited us in to their kingdom. The fairies are beautiful creatures, gracious, with lovely manners. They treated us to succulent food and entertained us with enchanting music, songs and poems. They only asked one thing from us and that was not to take anything away from the fairy kingdom. You can guess what happened eventually – and the fairies must have known how people are….last year Jack Jones picked one of the unusual and beautiful flowers while he was in the fairy kingdom and popped it in his pocket. As soon as he walked back into our world he was struck senseless and still is to this day. This year on May Day we went back to Llyn Cwm Llwch but the door didn’t appear though we waited a long time.

Many Years have passed since then.

I lost my dad to old age and a dodgy heart, I inherited our farm and married the prettiest local girl who’d have me. We’ve been happy and had children of our own. I have almost forgotten about the wonderful May Days of the past and certainly put the memory of that poor black tom cat from my mind. That was until there was a meeting called in Brecon tonight. John Jones clearly hadn’t forgotten the fairies He stood up and said, “Let’s go to Llyn Cwm Llwch and look and see if the fairies have left any the gold or other treasure. We will dig around the lake as deep as we need.”

Everyone from the town (except Jack Jones who was still senseless) took their spades and shovels and headed to the Lake to start to dig. They dug so deep and so far that it felt as though we might start a new lake ourselves when all of a sudden a huge storm crashed overhead- all thunder and lightning. Everyone froze Everyone froze as ripples followed by violent waves, turned the lake into a boiling mass of water. A huge giant now rose out of the water chest high, his flowing beard so long it was still in the swirling waters of the Lake. All of a sudden the storm stopped and the waters fell quiet as the giant spoke:
“If you disturb my peace, Be warned that I will drown The valley of the Usk, beginning with Brecon Town.”
Then he seemed to look straight at me and dropping his voice a little, he hissed

“Remember the token of the cat.”

It all started on Friday morning. I was on my way up to the lake - Llyn Cwm Llwch

With that the thunder and lightning broke over us again with an almighty flash and crash and the water became agitated once more. The giant slowly sunk below the water and as he disappeared the storm abated and the water calmed. Everyone seemed dazed and picked up their tools and started to wander back towards town. After a while John Jones asked if anyone knew what the giant meant about the black cat.
I took a deep breath and told everyone about what I had done when I was a small boy. John Jones replied “ Well there is no physical connection between the two lakes.
This is truly a warning to us to stop disturbing the peace of Llyn Cwm Llwch. If we don’t heed the giant’s words Llyn Cwm Llwch will be poured into Brecon and probably all the surrounding villages along the Usk Valley, including Llangorse” “ I have suffered more than most from not taking heed of the fairies’ words. My son’s punishment shows that they mean what they say. Let us go back home and leave the lake in peace”.
 We walked back in silence, all we could hear was the mewing of the red kites or was it the call of a black cat?

How to experience this legend:

This is a challenging route which takes about 5 hours with a distance of 8 miles/12.8 km. It is recommended that either the Landranger 160 or Explorer OL12 is used to navigate the route. Starting point is SO 025248, access from the west end of Brecon along Newgate Street, turning up along Ffrwdgrech road. At three fork roads, take the far left and follow road up to crossroads for 1.5 miles/2.4km. Travel ahead, over cattle grid with National Trust sign and continue up to car park, known locally as Cwm Gwdi car park.
For map of the route and directions go to:


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