Ty Capel

Rhiwddolion, near Betws-y-coed

Overview

The remote and tranquil Rhiwddolion was formerly a slate quarrying community. Ty Capel was a school-cum chapel in the days of the slate quarry. 

  • Dogs AllowedDogs Allowed
  • CotCot
  • Fire or StoveFire or Stove
  • Open SpaceOpen Space
  • Logs availableLogs available
  • Parking AvailableParking Available
  • BathBath
  • RemoteRemote

Beds Triple room

Sleeps
3
4 nights from
£162 equivalent to £13.50 per person, per night

Last remnants of a once thriving community of slate miners

Rhiwddolion (pronounced ‘Rutholeon’) is a remote upland hamlet at the head of a valley above Betws-y-Coed. For a time there was a slate quarry and community here, but long before that Rhiwddolion was on the Roman road that runs from Merioneth to the Conwy valley, called Sarn Helen after the mother of Emperor Constantine. By the early twentieth century the mines and quarries had closed and the miners drifted away to find employment elsewhere. Their cottages and chapel were left abandoned until we rescued two cottages and the chapel.

Oak trees and rocks, streams and forest

You reach Ty Capel as the first of our three Landmarks at Rhiwddolion. It sits beside the stream that flows down the valley and served as both a schoolroom and a chapel in the days of the slate quarry. At the end of the 19th century the chapel served a community of 150 people. Essentially a large single space with a steep staircase up to the sleeping gallery, this robust stone building is lined with varnished pine which, to an extent, helps to combat winter cold. Now you share Rhiwddolion only with the sheep, a small scale landscape of oak trees and rocks surrounded by forest, silent and tranquil but for the sheep and the sound of its streams. It is not possible to get a car to any of our three Landmarks here. Instead, leaving your car by the forestry track, you walk up the valley (ten minutes, some say longer) on a path of enormous half buried flagstones, just as your predecessors did.

See all our Landmarks at Rhiwddolion

Floor Plan

‘For me, the best thing about this stay has been the discovery that my kids, Ed and Felicity, appear to share my enjoyment for remote, beautiful places.’

From the logbook

Map & local info

Sitting beside a stream at the edge of the forest, Rhiwddolion is a remote upland hamlet at the head of a valley of waterfalls, oak trees and rocks. Tranquil but for the sound of sheep and streams.

The landscape around Ty Capel is breathtaking. The Snowdonia National Park Visitor Centre at Betws y Coed has lots of local information and walks to help you discover more of this spectacular area of Wales. There is an excellent walk to Lake Elsi, allowing you to enjoy the views at your leisure. 

Swallow Falls are very nearby, the highest set of waterfalls in Wales. Gwydir Forest is home to a celebrated landscape of lakes, forests and mountains. Enjoy walks, cycle rides and picnics around this beautiful area. 

Ty Mawr Wybrant and Conwy Valley Railway Museum both provide something to do on wet weather days. Ty Mawr Wybrant is a traditional stone 16th century farmhouse where you can learn about life in this remote area centuries ago. 

For children, the Fairy Glen is always a delight. Tree Top Adventure Park provides an exciting day out for all the family. 

Take a look at our Pinterest Map for more information and ideas for things to do during your holiday at Ty Capel.

Please Note: The Landmark Trust does not take any responsibility and makes no warranties, representations or undertakings about the content of any website accessed by hypertext link. Links should not be taken as an endorsement of any kind. The Landmark Trust has no control over the availability of the linked pages.

See all our Landmarks at Rhiwddolion

Ty Capel
Rhiwddolion, near Betws-y-coed
Clear directions

‘To my surprise I discovered that I actually quite enjoyed walking.’

‘The pair of elderly ladies in the Oxfam shop, Porthmadog, sang for us the Welsh hymn written by the schoolmaster of Rhiwddolion.’

From the logbook

FAQs

    What you need to know about this building

  • Does the property allow dogs?

    Yes.
  • How is the property accessed?

    Via a forestry track from the main road. (Access is on foot only – you have to walk the last 365m along the track).
  • What is the nearest railway station and how far away is it?

    Betws-y-coed – 2 miles.
  • Is there car parking specifically for Landmark guests?

    There is parking for one car in the layby at the bottom of the track.
  • What type of heating does the property have?

    There are electric night storage heaters and an open fire.
  • How can I get fuel for the open fire or stove?

    Logs may be purchased and delivered under a private arrangement. Further details will be provided with your booking confirmation.
  • What are the kitchen facilities?

    The kitchen is fully equipped with all plates, cutlery, fridge etc. There is also an electric cooker.
  • What are the bathroom facilities?

    There is one bathroom with a bath.
  • Does this Landmark have steep, narrow or spiral stairs?

    The stairs are relatively steep.
  • Is there a garden or outside space?

    There are open grounds with many unfenced streams.
  • Is this a property for hardier visitors?

    Yes access is on foot only – you have to walk the last 365m along the track.

    Booking and Payment

  • What happens if I can’t get to the Landmark due to bad weather?

    If the weather is bad, please contact our booking office who will be able to tell you whether the Landmark is accessible. If the housekeeper can safely get to the building to prepare it then we consider that it is open and available for guests. However if we cannot undertake a changeover then we will do our utmost to transfer your stay to another Landmark, depending on what we have available. It may not be of a similar size or in the same part of the country as your original booking. If the building is accessible but the customer cannot travel due to poor weather in his/her local area then please be aware that Landmark will not provide a refund. However the customer may be able to claim on his/her own travel insurance. We recommend that all guests take out travel insurance when they first secure a booking.
  • How can I pay?

    We accept Maestro (if issued in the UK), Visa, MasterCard, direct transfer and sterling cheques drawn on a UK bank. Cheques should be made payable to the Landmark Trust except for Lundy stays and boat/helicopter tickets which should be payable to The Lundy Company Ltd. All payments must be in sterling.
  • How do I create an account?

    If you have not used the Landmark online booking facility before and you wish to register in advance, you can set up an on-line account by following the instructions below:

    Go to the Landmark home page and click on Gift shop (located at the top of the home page in red).

    Select a gift (e.g. Landmark Handbook or Anniversary Mug) and complete the ‘Amount required’ box. There is no need to complete the purchase but this step is necessary in order to bring up the registration page.

    Click ‘Next Step’ at the bottom of the page.

    This will bring you to the ‘Your details’ page.

    Please complete all the fields (name, address, contact details and create an account). Click on the green ‘Create Account’ button once you have finished.

    At the top of the page headed ‘Your details’ there will be a grey box saying ‘Signed in’ and underneath this it will say ‘you are currently signed in as ….

    Here you will also have the option to ‘Sign out’. Please do so and that is your registration completed.

    Please return to the Landmark home page.

    To check your registration or update your account details at any time please ‘Sign in’ using the icon in the top right-hand corner of the home page.

    If you experience any problems in registering or setting up your on-line account please contact [email protected]
  • How do I pick up the key?

    There are various arrangements for picking up keys. To arrange to get into the Landmark, please contact the housekeeper at least two days before your stay
  • Can I pay a deposit?

    If your stay starts more than three months from the date you make the booking, you are required to pay a deposit of one third of the cost of your stay (or £100 per booking, if greater) at the time of booking. Camping on Lundy must be paid for in full at the time of booking.
  • How can I cancel or change my booking?

    If you wish to cancel or change your booking, please contact our Booking Office on 01628 825925
  • Do you accept payment in other currencies?

    At the moment we only accept payment in sterling.
  • What if I arrive late?

    Please let the housekeeper know if you are going to arrive late and s/he will leave a key for you in a suitable place.
  • How far in advance do I need to book?

    It depends. Some of our most popular Landmarks are booked up a long time in advance, but many can be booked at short notice. We will always have Landmarks free for the coming weekend so it’s always worth checking our availability list.
  • Do you have to be a member to book a Landmark?

    No, Landmarks are available to be booked for anyone.
  • Do I need a Handbook to be able to book?

    No, all the information you need can be found on our website, although we’d like you to buy one anyway as it will be a pleasure to own!

    Staying at a Landmark

  • Are Landmarks accessible for people with disabilities or limited mobility?

    Some of our Landmarks are suitable for people with disabilities or limited mobility. However, many Landmarks have steep or narrow staircases, uneven floors and thresholds, changes of level, low ceilings or beams, as well as indistinct colours on steps and in corridors. We recommend that you call Booking Enquiries on 01628 825925 if you would like to find out the suitability of a particular Landmark for anyone with a specific disability.
  • Are Landmarks only available as self-catering accommodation?

    Yes, Landmarks are only available as self-catering accommodation. We do not offer bed and breakfast.
  • Do you provide catering?

    Landmark does not provide catering, but we can recommend Greycoat Lumleys who can arrange for expert and well-trained staff to cater for one evening or for your entire holiday. Their cooks and chefs are able to work with you to meet your specific requirements
  • Do you allow dogs?

    You may bring up to two dogs to properties where dogs are allowed (please see specific property details for exemptions however dogs are not permitted on Lundy except assistance dogs). They must be kept off the furniture and under proper control.
  • Can I bring a pet?

    Apart from two dogs (see above) no other pets are permitted.
  • Am I insured if I break something?

    We do not carry insurance for breakages. However we appreciate that accidents do sometimes happen. If you have a breakage during your stay, please let the housekeeper know and if appropriate we reserve the right to invoice you accordingly.
  • Are Landmarks suitable for children?

    Yes, most of our Landmarks are perfect for children, with gardens to play in and secret places to discover. Our furniture is surprisingly robust and we positively encourage families to stay. However, some of our buildings may not be suitable for small children; for example, some of them have steep or uneven spiral staircases. We recommend that you call the Booking Enquiries team if you would like to find out the suitability of any of our Landmarks for young children.
  • Can I get married in a Landmark?

    Unfortunately, most of our Landmarks are not licensed for weddings. However, you may get married on Lundy.
  • Can I hold a big party in a Landmark?

    All our larger Landmarks are perfect for gatherings of family or friends. You may invite an additional two guests to visit you during your stay, however they must not stay overnight. This is very important because our fire regulations specifically note the maximum number of people in any one building. In addition our properties are prepared, furnished and equipped for the number of people specified and greater numbers cause damage and excessive wear and tear to vulnerable buildings. Should this condition be ignored we shall make a retrospective charge per person per day (whether or not they stay overnight) for each guest over the permitted limit, the charge being pro-rated on the total cost of your booking.
  • Are there televisions in the buildings?

    We deliberately do not provide televisions and find that most people appreciate this.
  • Why are your access tracks sometimes difficult?

    One of the challenges of restoring unloved buildings is gaining access to them. We frequently have to negotiate rights with our neighbours and share tracks with them. In many cases tracks do not belong to us and we have no right to maintain them. Wherever possible we work with our neighbours to provide you with a good quality surface, but where this is a problem then you will be warned at the time of booking.
  • Will there be sockets for my electrical appliances?

    Yes, we have standard electricity sockets for UK appliances. If you are coming from outside the UK, you will need to bring your own adaptor plug(s). If you are visiting one of our European properties we have standard European electricity sockets. If you are visting from the UK, you will need to bring your own adapter plug (s).

    Facilities

  • Are the kitchens and bathrooms restored to a modern standard?

    Sometimes our kitchens and bathrooms have to be imaginatively fitted into the available space in buildings where before there were none, but they are all planned and equipped to a high and modern standard.
  • Is linen provided?

    Yes, Landmarks are fully equipped with sheets and towels. All the beds are fully made up for your arrival.
  • Are the kitchens fully equipped?

    Yes, our kitchens are well equipped with cookers and fridges. There are freezers and dishwashers (in larger buildings) and, where space allows, microwaves as well as a wide and standard range of utensils. A full equipment list is available at time of booking.
  • Do you provide logs for the open fire/stove?

    Logs are provided at many of our Landmarks for an additional cost.
  • Will there be a mobile signal in the Landmark I book?

    Mobile coverage varies. Some Landmarks have an excellent signal, but others have none at all. If you are concerned, you can check with the housekeeper before your arrival.
  • Is there Wi-Fi in your buildings?

    No. At the moment, we have decided not to implement Wi-Fi in our buildings following a consultation with our customers. Many said that they would find it useful, but many also felt that it would somehow damage the experience of staying in a Landmark. As the responses were so split, and as we have so many other initiatives requiring funding, we have decided to put this on hold for the time being.
  • What should I bring with me? Are there lavatory rolls, soap, shampoo, milk, teabags, coffee, hairdryer?

    A welcome tray with tea and sugar awaits your arrival and you will find a pint of milk in the fridge. We also provide lavatory rolls and a bar of soap, per basin but no other toiletries. We do not provide hairdryers.
History

The Rhiwddolion valley

At least until late medieval times the upper Conway valley was inaccessible, sparsely inhabited, and plagued by lawless bands who found the oak forests a useful hideout. But with the arrival of peace came the desire for permanent homes, so that many of the earliest houses in the district date from the 16th century. These are often found in small upland pockets of fertile landwatered by a stream, where they lie sheltered and hidden.

 

 

Of the three Landmarks in the Rhiwddolion valley, Ty Uchaf (’Upper House’) is the oldest; on the evidence of a datestone surviving in the ruined pigsty, it was built in 1685. It is typical of its time: single-storeyed, with an end chimney, and two main rooms with extra sleeping space provided in a loft which originally extended over two-thirds of the cottage (the croglofft), accessed by a ladder. The room to the right of the door, with the big fireplace, would have been the principal living and cooking room, and the smaller, unheated one on the left either a service bay or a primitive parlour; the two rooms were originally separated by a partition. The byre beside the house was probably added in the late 18th century, and may have replaced an earlier structure – the farm would always have required at least one building to act as cow byre, stable and hayloft. The house roof would have been thatched, but it is possible that the byre was slated from the first, and that the house section was re-roofed in slate at the time that the byre was added on.

The roofless structures at either end of the house-and-byre range are 19th-century additions: the one on the left seems to have served as a store, and that on the right may have been a dairy or brewhouse. The dry-stone walls in front of the house, and the now-ruined pigsty, are of about the same date. Various pens, enclosures and other structures, some now only identifiable as footings, can be seen near the house; of these, the only other roofed structure is the ty bach (little house), which is probably late Victorian.

The name Ty Coch means "red house", though there is no obvious reason for this; it may in a general way mean "warm", from the hospitality offered there, or it may be derived from the less cold colour of the stone compared with dressed slate slabs, or perhaps it had a red front door. It is probably a hundred years or so younger than Ty Uchaf, being built before the end of the 18th century. It seems however that it may incorporate the materials of an earlier structure, since it contains a cruck, formed from the trunk and branch of a single tree, spanning the fireplace. The structure may have been a barn, since cruck trusses continued to be used in agricultural buildings well after their use in domestic buildings had been abandoned. In its original layout Ty Coch was not very dissimilar to Ty Uchaf and once had a similar sleeping loft.

For centuries the pattern of farming life continued almost unchanged but the revival in the area of lead mining and then of slate quarrying on an industrial scale transformed the valley. A row of miners’ cottages was built on Sarn Helen (the old Roman Road) and in 1860 a school and a chapel were provided. In 1869 the Bard Griffith Hugh Jones became headmaster and for the next 50 years the district was enlivened by his brass band, his choral union and his eisteddfodau. The chapel choirs sang hymns of his composition and the Rhiwddolion chapel sensationally acquired a harmonium to accompany them. In 1892 Ty Capel was enlarged and an open-air auditorium built alongside for special occasions.

Restoration

The mines and quarries closed

By the early part of the 20th century the mines and quarries had closed and employment possibilities declined. The few remaining villagers of Rhiwddolion, finding the Roman road of little use to them and the whole hamlet out on a limb, slipped away. The chapel was closed in 1956 and the Landmark Trust bought it in 1967. Ty Coch continued to be lived in after the quarrymen’s cottages had lost their roofs, but it became increasingly marooned from modern life and in 1968 it was also sold to the Landmark Trust. Ty Uchaf came into the hands of the Trust in 1998, acquired in order to preserve this unspoilt setting.

The previous owner had already begun a restoration of Ty Uchaf, of which various traces still remain. Its conversion to a Landmark took place under the guidance of architect Adam Voelker and was carried out by the Trust’s own workforce, headed by Reg Lo Vel who has worked on many of the Trust’s renovations. It is a soft and conservative restoration, faithful to the original simple plan form of house and byre, and to the evidence of the croglofft.

Ty Capel, on the other hand, was in sound structural condition when the Landmark Trust bought it and obtained permission to turn it into a dwelling house. To give extra light to the big room a new window was made in the south wall, after which the slates were re-hung on the end, exactly as before. The kitchen and bathroom were fitted in at the other end, leaving plenty of space over for the sleeping gallery. The altar rails, originally at the south end with the Communion Table behind, were used to form the balustrade. The deal floorboards and the boards that line the walls and ceiling are all original and the varnished pine partitions, though new, are absolutely typical of chapel furniture. The simple colouring and the stencilling round the dado rail are also designed to be in keeping with the decoration of a small chapel, and the architect, the late Leonard Beddall-Smith, aimed to ensure that the feel of the whole building is highly evocative.

Ty Coch needed rather more work. The roof was in a bad state and had to be completely redone. Luckily there were some slates to be used up from the original roof of another Landmark, the Bath Tower in Caernarfon; they are the large ones on the front of the building. There was no room to fit a kitchen and bathroom into the existing building, so they were added on at the back. The stone for the extension came from Ty Isaf (Lower House), the ruined building between Ty Capel and Ty Coch. The local joiner designed and built the kitchen cupboards, and local slate flags were laid on the sitting-room floor. A low wall was built at the front, and the hillside dug back behind to help prevent damp.

So after all, the activity of the 19th century in this valley turned out to be no more than an interruption; Rhiwddolion has returned to its original pattern and the same simple sort of life can again be lived there, if a good deal more comfortably. The lack of a road to the front door emphasises the link with the past, for there can be few places left where the foot-boundness of that life can be so strongly realised. Above all, it looks today very much as it did for some hundreds of years before the quarries came and went, an upland pocket of habitation among the now encroaching conifers – which in time may themselves prove no more than an interruption in the natural landscape.

Availability & booking

Select a changeover day to start your booking...

What's a changeover day? and Why can't I select other dates?Explain MoreQuestion

A changeover day is a particular day of the week when holidays start and end at our properties. These tend to be on a Friday or a Monday but can sometimes vary. All stays run from one changeover day until another changeover day.