Location: Gwynedd area, North Wales, United Kingdom
I have always believed in the Fae and I want to share three “faerie” experiences that happened to me while I spent 6 months in North Wales on a study exchange. These aren't particularly scary, but they are very strange. I will also mention that though I was born in Australia, my mum is from England and we have some very old English, Cornish and Welsh blood in us – many of our ancestors have lived there for hundreds, if not thousands of years. It’s the same on my dad’s side, but he was born in Australia and mostly has immigrants or convicts from the UK that came to Australia in the last 200 years. One of my great grandmothers on my mum's side, though from a well to do family, was also extremely superstitious and read tea leaves. She also would refuse to wear green as she though it was unlucky because it was the faeries color. Anyway, here are the three stories.
The first occurred in March 2018 at the Great Orme Mines in the town of Llandudno. The Great Orme was an late Neolithic copper mine and as I was studying archaeology, our lecturer took my class there for a field trip. We went out of season so there were no other tourists and one of the resident archaeologists gave us a tour through the underground complex. It is amazing, you can still see the marks where people excavated the shafts using deer antler picks. Inside the mine, there is one of the largest pre-industrial age man made caverns in the world.
While our guide was talking about the cavern, myself and another student were standing further up the mine shaft, towards an opening to the cavern. Now we were told not to go off the path because it can be dangerous, rocks can fall and there are hidden shafts, but the guy I was standing with asked me whether or not the guide would let us have a look in the larger cavern, I said it couldn’t hurt to ask, but probably not because of the rules. He said that he was just going to have a little peak inside the cavern and I told him to be careful. Just as I said this and just as he started to step into the cavern, a huge, heavy rock came crashing down from the ceiling – right where he was going to walk! We both jumped back and looked at each other, the commotion had attracted the attention of the rest of the group and the guide asked us what happened. I told him that the rock nearly came down on our heads, but it didn’t look like a rockslide as only one came down.
The guide chuckled at us and simply said “The Knockers were telling you two not to go in there”. I had heard of mine fairies before, but I wanted to pick his brain so I asked him if he had any experiences with them. He said sometimes when you are exploring the mine, your tools and food will go missing then show up in another place and other times, uncanny archaeology discoveries will be found in odd locations where you aren’t expecting anything – like a clay lantern that was used to light the tunnels for the miners 4000 years ago, being found in exactly the spot it had been left, soot from the flame still blackening the wall behind it.
The second encounter happened not two weeks after the Great Orme mine encounter. I was camping in the thick mountain pine forests around the village of Betws-y-coed, with two friends. We were staying in a small clay hut in a little gully, not to far from a place called Fairy Falls, where water fairies are said to dwell. It was early morning, at around 6 am. My friends were still sleeping in the hut and I had decided to go for a walk in the woods. All of a sudden, I heard bugle horns – the kind of horn horse mounted hunting parties use. . I will mention that the forest around the hut was extremely thick and the terrain was very steep, so it would be impossible for horses to go through it.
There was a small track further up the mountain, but we were so remote that not many people came out this way, so it seemed odd that a hunting party would be in this kind of terrain that is ill suited for horses and has low visibility for spotting prey. Also, fox hunting is almost entirely illegal in the UK, unless on a private estate and we were in a national forest. After I heard the horns, suddenly a large white dog with red ears bounded out of the pines, jumped the fence and ran towards me. It was definitely a hound, similar to a fox hound but not quite. It was friendly and came up for a sniff but quickly left me and kept sniffing around the clearing the hut was in, looking for the scent of it quarry.
Then I caught sight of more white dogs with red ears running through the forest undergrowth, all baying as they had caught the scent of their prey. I didn’t fully see their quarry, but I caught a flash of something startlingly white, even more white than the dogs, as it ran down the steep gully edge. It was gone to quickly for me to make out what it was, but it almost looked like it was floating. I could hear the horns getting closer and closer but I never saw the hunters, only their dogs. The thing is, white dogs with red ears have a very specific place in Welsh folklore. They are the Cwn Annwn or hounds of the otherworld and they belong to the King of the Faeries, Gwyn ap Nudd. The are also said to escort the dead to the otherworld as well as hunt wrongdoers to the ground. Where they Gwyn ap Nudd’s hounds? I can’t say, I didn’t see Gwyn himself, but it was certainly an sudden and odd scene, so far out in a thick forest.
The final faerie encounter happened on the night of Beltane, eve of May day. Beltane is an ancient festival heralding in the first day of Spring. Many wiccans and pagans celebrate it today but the festival is much older than any new age rendition of it. It is meant to be one of the days of he year, the other day is Samhein or Halloween when the veil between our world and the otherworld is at it’s weakest. I was at a stone circle in the town of Bangor, on the straits that separate mainland Wales from the island of Anglesey, the last stronghold of the Druids. We had decided to have a little Beltane party so we were playing some music and drinking a heap of wine. Before we got to into the wine though, I pored a little onto the earth as an offering to the faeries, I’m not wiccan or really a pagan but it felt like the right thing to do.
Anyway, as the sun set and it got dark, I was looking out onto the bare trees near the edge of the stone circle and noticed little flickering light in the tree canopy. At first I thought they were car headlights across the straits, but they didn’t move like a car, they bobbed up and down and when I looked directly at them, they vanished. Because they were in the canopy, I thought they could have been the lights of a helicopter, but there was not tell tail sound of the rotors. Now I will say that though I had been drinking wine, I wasn’t drunk, but I wasn’t sure what I was seeing so I asked my friends if they could see the lights. None of them did. I kept pointing them out and insisting that they were there but no one saw them, not even the self described “witch” of the group. Because no one but me could see them, I let it go and watched them until they simply faded away. This, to me, was undeniably a faerie experience. I saw them, I wasn't drunk, I wasn't high. I just wish someone else saw it with me.
I had other paranormal experiences in my six months in Wales, one of which happened to both a friend and me at the same time, but they were more ghostly than faerie. I may share them one day though as they are just as strange. I will say, even though I have experienced many paranormal things in my life: ghosts, time slips, spirits and unknown things in the sky , I have never had so much activity happen in such a short space of time as when I came back to my ancestral homeland.