Plas y Brenin, Capel Curig

Plas y Brenin, Capel Curig

The main buildings here were erected c.1800 as the Capel Curig Inn by Lord Penrhyn, who also built the first road from Bangor to Capel Curig. It was a commercial exercise as tourism started to develop. He chose the site for its views over Llynnau Mymbyr to the Snowdon massif. The inn became very popular and soon was enlarged. The grave of one of the earliest waiters, valued for his loyalty, can be seen outside St Julitta’s Church.

The inn was renamed the Royal Hotel after Queen Victoria stayed there c.1870. Other famous guests include poet Lord Byron, novelist Sir Walter Scott, architect and gardener Sir Joseph Paxton.

The Royal Hotel was requisitioned in 1942 by the Royal Military College and used as a Battle Training Camp where officer cadets from Sandhurst took part in live firing military exercises in Snowdonia’s mountainous areas. One instructor who moved from Sandhurst was a Sergeant Smith, who brought his family to Capel Curig including his son Reginald Leonard Smith. Reginald later changed his name to Marty Wilde and became a global star in rock and pop music.

In 1955 the building was acquired for the Central Council of Physical Recreation. There was heightened interest in mountain walking and climbing at the time, after humans had reached the summit of Everest for the first time in 1953. Members of the pioneering Everest team had trained in this area, staying at Pen-y-Gwryd Hotel and at Helyg, a cottage in the Ogwen Valley.

The Royal Hotel was bought for the CCPR by the trust fund set up by King George VI, who died in 1952. It was renamed Plas y Brenin (“the King’s mansion”) in 1955 in his memory. Besides mountaineering, Plas y Brenin offered activities such as horse riding, archery and fly-fishing. A dry ski slope was created in 1965 by the director at the time, J A Jackson, who established the centre as a National Mountaineering Centre. He had become the centre’s chief instructor in 1958 and director in 1960. He was instrumental in the development of the Mountain Leadership scheme, in which Plas y Brenin played a leading role. Plas y Brenin remains a centre of excellence in this field.

Today Plas y Brenin is the National Mountain Centre, operated by the Mountain Training Trust on behalf of Sport England. It provides courses and holidays involving activities as varied as hill walking, mountaineering, rock climbing, mountain biking, sea kayaking and Alpine paddling. Members of the public can view old photos of the centre inside and use the centre’s café.

Since the 1950s the centre has held an annual “Farmers’ night” to cultivate positive relationtships with local residents.

With thanks to Harvey Lloyd of the Friends of St Julitta's, and to Adrian Hughes, of the Home Front museum, Llandudno

Where is this HiPoint?

Postcode: LL24 0ET

Website of Plas y Brenin, the National Mountain Centre