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  • Writer's pictureMike Maunder

THE EGRYN LIGHTS



The Egryn Lights, or the Harlech Lights Flap, was a wave of unexplained light phenomena that occured in Gwynedd, North Wales, in around 1905. One day a huge arc, like a kind of aurora, was seen spanning from the mountains into the sea. After that, the lights came. At the time there was a religious revivial which had been started by a Mary Jones, who preached at a small chapel in Egryn between Barmouth and Harlech. The lights soon came to be associated with the revival.

Journalists from London and other cities flocked skeptically to the area, but were soon shocked by the lights and wrote back a series of very intriguing articles. Kevin McClure summarised these events in a well known book of the 1980s called Stars and Rumours of Stars.




Old Waves



The area has a history of strange lights. As Fiery Exhalations in Wales notes, the 1905 flap wasn't the only one in the area: there was another in 1693 and 1694. At this time it was called the Harlech Meteor, meteor being the general name for any unexplained light, which at the time included what we now call meteors. Pennant's Tour in Wales, Vol. II., p. 372, ed. 1810, describes the phenomenon as follows:


“Winter of 1694. — A pestilential vapour resembling a weak blue flame arose during a fortnight or three weeks out of a sandy, marshy tract called Morfa Byden, and crossed over a channel of 8 miles to Harlech. It set fire on that side to 16 ricks of hay and 2 barns, one filled with hay, the other with corn. It infected the grass in such a manner that cattle, etc., died, yet men eat of it with impunity. It was easily dispelled: any great noise, sounding of horns, discharging of guns, at once repelled it. Moved only by night, and appeared at times, but less frequently; after this it disappeared


A few decades later, John Mason Neale, in The Unseen World (1847), describes the same incident after recounting his own experience with a Will-o'-the-wisp:


“Of a less innocent kind was the celebrated Harlech meteor of 1694. Between Harlech and the Caernarvonshire side of the Traeth Bychan intervenes a low range of marsh land, running up some way into the country. Just before Christmas, 1693, a pale blue light was observed to come across the sea, apparently from the Caernarvonshire coast, and moving slowly from one part of the neighbouring country to another, to fire all the hay-ricks and some of the barns which it approached. It never appeared but at night. At first the country people were terrified at it; at length, taking courage, they ventured boldly close to it, and sometimes into it, to save, if it might be, their hay. As summer came on, instead of appearing almost every night, its visits were confined to once or twice a week, and almost always on Saturday or Sunday. It now began to cease from firing ricks, but was hurtful in another manner; for it poisoned all the grass on which it rested, and a great mortality of cattle and sheep ensued. At length it was traced to a place called Morvabychan, in Caernarvonshire, a sandy and marshy bay, about nine miles distant from Harlech. Storm or fine weather seemed to make no difference to this meteor; but any loud noise, as shouting, firing guns, blowing horns, appeared to prevent its doing mischief. It was seen for the last time in the August of 1694.”


Outline of Events


December 1904


5th — Mary Jones starts her revival work at Egryn Chapel. She sees a large auroral arc, stretching from the mountains into the sea, and what she calls a star. The meeting at Egryn Chapel was not well attended.

8th — Mary Jones holds a second revival meeting at Egryn Chapel, this one much better attended.

15th — The Barmouth Advertiser gives the first media report of Mary Jones, but not the lights. In the week that followed, the same paper reported “close upon 40 converts” being enrolled.

22nd — Three people see a large light to the south of Egryn Chapel, with a “bottle or black person” in the middle and “some little lights scattering around the large light in many colors.”


January 1905


2nd — A man sees three lights in formation like a Prince of Wales feathers over a farmhouse. In what is described as probably the same sighting, a woman saw lights between Dyffryn and Llanbedr in early January too.

5th — Mary Jones attends a meeting at Pensarn. A Machynlleth train driver reports seeing a strange light “shooting out of ten different directions, and then coming together with a loud clap”. A strange light was also reported near Towyn.

13th — The Cambrian News publishes the first mention of the lights in the press.

16th — Mary Jones writes to the SPR saying that she had seen the lights several times, and that they started about six weeks ago.

31st — Beriah Evans sees five separate lights with Mary Evans around Islawrffordd and Egryn Chapel. He went on to write a famous article about these events which was published on 9th February. The Times claimed that the revival in South Wales was at somewhat of a peak.


February 1905


9th — (Thursday) An article by Beriah Evans is published in the Daily News and the Guardian, giving his account of the lights of 31st January. This article prompts the Daily Mail and the Mirror to send journalists to investigate, and the media frenzy last for about a week.

10th — (Friday) Mary Jones gives a service at Bryncrug, and according to Beriah Evans, lights are seen not just as the meeting but also by various people as they walk home.

11th — (Saturday) Mary Jones is at Bontddu and lights reportedly pale the lights of her room. She gives a service in the evening. The Daily Mail reporter sees several lights around Egryn Chapel. The Daily Mirror reporter rides back with Mary Evans in the dark, and as they enter Barmouth they see a strange kernel of light above their carriages.

12th — (Sunday) Possibly on this day a clergyman with Mary Jones sees a light travel from Islawrffordd and alight on the roof of Egryn Chapel.

13th — (Monday) Stationmaster R. Bowen at Towyn sees the light through a telescope, heading towards Harlech. He had also been observing the lights in January. The Daily Mail correspondent, Bernard Redwood, and two others, also attempt to conduct a scientific investigation of the lights by Egryn Chapel. They only see a distant flash to the north. Mary Jones was in a village fifteen miles away.

14th — (Tuesday) The Daily Mirror journalist sees a bar of light by Egryn Chapel, and though some standing by him see it, others just a little further off hadn't observed it.

20thThe Times reports that the revival in South Wales is starting to lose its power due to its main proponent, Evan Roberts, suffering a nervous breakdown.

24th — The Cambrian News start to take a peculiarly harsh line towards Mary Jones and the light sightings.


March 1905


4th — According to the Atlanta Constitution, a light follows Mary Jones's carriage back from a meeting at a place whose name is sadly not legible in the record.

5th — According again to the Atlanta Constitution, a reporter from the Express saw lights from a summit of the road apparently north from Egryn Chapel and before Islawrffordd. The lights were visible in the hills behind Egryn Chapel.

10th — Mary Jones holds a revival meeting at Arthog, but no lights are seen there.

13th — The Rev. H. D. Jones sees a strange light accompany them and Mary Jones from Ty'n-y-Drain near Llanbedr a mile of the way to Egryn. The light turned sharp left to follow them at a junction rather than going straight on.

15th — Lights are seen by a lady at West End in Pwllheli, where Mary Jones is holding a meeting.

25th — Mr. L.M. and others see a variety of lights at Capel Bethel in Llanfair, where Mary Jones was holding a meeting. Some of the lights sprang from a field adjacent to the chapel.


April 1905


13th — Strange noises are heard by Miss Jane Jeffreys, with whom Mary Evans is residing.

19th — A party sees lights at Froncysyllte: “We posted ourselves on the north end of the Pontcysyllte (Aqueduct) at 11.30pm, and watched continuously for over an hour over the valley of the Dee, and particularly over some fields near the Argoed farm. Twice I distinctly noticed a large ball of fire rise from the earth and suddenly burst luridly.” Mary Jones was in the area.

20th — Mary Jones had been preaching at Wrexham, and the lights had been seen there.


May 1905


25th — In the early hours of the morning, Rev. E.W.E. reports seeing lights towards Penrhys Hill, near Ystrad in Rhondda, from his home after attending a meeting with Mary Jones.

27th — Dr. R.J.M. sees a light at Libanus in Rhondda, where Mary Jones was holding a meeting.


Sightings


Auroral Arch


5th December 1904


(1) On Mary Jones's first meetings: “She was full of expectation but the first meeting, on a Monday evening, chilled her very heart. However, another was announced for the Thursday. It was better attended, and people took part more readily, she herself making the first attempt.” — British Weekly, Rev. Elvet Lewis, 26th Jan 1905; via McClure


(2) On Mary Jones: “It was quite recently that she first saw a mysterious star in the air before her, pointing out the way. It was not like any ordinary star, being infinitely more powerful and looking like a brilliant white light hung in the air only a short distance away. She followed the path it indicated and won converts by the revival message she was taking round the neighbourhood.” — Daily Mirror, 13th Feb 1905, p.6

(3) “The 'stars' and 'lights' appeared for the first time on the night that Mrs Jones commenced her public mission at Egryn. The star was heralded by a luminous arch, of the character of the 'Aurora Borealis', one end resting on the sea, the other on the hill-top (a distance of well over a mile), bathing the little chapel in a flood of soft effulgence. The star soon after appeared, its light flooding the chapel itself. Ever since then, up to the middle of February, the star and the lights have always accompanied Mrs Jones' mission.” — Occult Review, Beriah Evans, March 1905; via McClure

Devereux cites the Manchester Guardian, 9th February, one of the famous series of articles by Beriah Evans, for the same information as in quote (3) above. Presumably Evans's piece in the Occult Review reused material from his earlier series.

Black Bottle


22nd December 1904


(1) At 5:18pm, three observers saw a large light “about half way from the earth to the sky, on the south side of Capel Egryn, and in the middle of it something like [a] bottle or black person, also some little lights scattering around the large light in many colours. Last of all the whole thing came to a large piece of fog, out of sight.” — Psychological Aspects of the Welsh Revival, A. T. Fryer


Prince of Wales Feathers


2nd January 1905 [?] — “I saw the light you refer to one night at the beginning of January (between 10 and 10.30pm). At first I saw two very bright lights, about half a mile away (it was between Dyffryn and Llanbedr) one a big white light, the other smaller and red in colour. The latter flashed backwards and forwards, and finally seemed to have become merged in the other. Then all was darkness again. It did not appear in the same place again, but a few minutes after we saw another light which seemed to be a few yards above the ground. It looked like one big flame, and all around it seemed like one big glare of light. It flamed up and went out alternately for about ten minutes, very much in the same way as some lighthouses.” (SPR Letter)


Shooting Clap


5th January 1905 — “On Thursday night of last week Mrs Jones attended a meeting at Pensarn, where hundreds of people congregated. The chapel can be seen from the railway and as a train, driven by a Machynlleth man, was passing, a strange light was seen shooting out of ten different directions, and then coming together with a loud clap. ‘Never do I wish to see anything like it again,’ said the driver in relating his experience. Both he and his mate saw the light which, since then, has been seen by other people, but in a different form.” (Cambrian News, 13th January)


Towyn Observations


Mid January 1905 — “Mr R Bowen, the stationmaster at Towyn, yesterday stated to a correspondent that he had seen in the Manchester Guardian that Mr Beriah Evans claimed to have seen a luminous star which made a dart towards the hills of Dyffryn, and other erratic movements. The star was observed by Mr Bowen about a month ago. It is a large, luminous body, with 3 large sparklets emanating from it, apparently about a foot in diameter, similar to that observed round the moon, (this seems to refer to a yellowish ring seen around it) and generally accepted as an indication of a coming storm.” (Manchester Guardian, 17th Feburary)


Late January or Early February 1905 — “One night it remained practically in the same position from 6.30 to 7.50pm When sought for again, it had travelled in 12 minutes from a point opposite Towyn to the North-West, and stood opposite, as far as he could judge, Bardsey Island.” (Manchester Guardian, 17th Feburary)


Beriah Jones's Lights


31st January 1905 — “We had just passed the level-crossing of the Cambrian railway in the fields, when Mrs Jones directed our attention to the southern sky. While she yet spoke, between us and the hills, and apparently two miles away, there suddenly flashed forth an enormous luminous star flashing forth an enormously brilliant white light, and emitting from its whole circumference dazzling sparklets like flashing rays from a diamond. [...] the star made a sudden huge jump towards the mountains, returning almost immediately to its old position, and then rushing at an immense speed straight for us. [...] And a second light, very different in character from the first, became [...] perceptible at some distance below the star, both obviously rushing towards us. As the train drew nearer the 'star' disappeared. With a rush and a roar the train was past. [...] the mysterious star reappeared nearer, and if possible more brilliant than ever. Then it vanished as suddenly as it had first appeared. [...] In a moment, high up on the hillside, quite two miles away from where the 'star' had been a moment previously, a 'light' again flashed out, illuminating the heather as though bathed in brilliant sunshine. Again it vanished - only again to reappear a mile further north evidently circling the valley, and in the direction for which we were bound. [...] So far the 'light' and 'star' had been equally visible to and seen alike by the five who formed our company. Now it made a distinction. Having left the fields and proceeded some distance along the main road, all five walking abreast, I suddenly saw three brilliant rays of dazzling white light stride across the road from mountain to sea, throwing the stone wall into bold relief, every stone and interstice, every little fern and bit of moss, as clearly visible as at noonday, or as though a searchlight had been turned on that particular spot. There was not a living soul near, nor a house from which the light could have come. Another short half-mile, and a blood-red light, apparently within a foot of the ground, appeared to me in the centre of the village street just before us. I said nothing until we had reached the spot. The redlight had disappeared as suddenly and mysteriously as it had come - and there was absolutely nothing which could conceivably account for its having been there a moment before.” (Daily News, 9th February)


The Bryncrug Lights


10th Feburary — “at Bryncrug, between Towyn and Abergynolwyn, twenty-five miles from Dyffryn, the chapel where the meeting was held became bathed in mysterious light. After the meeting a professional gentleman returning homeward suddenly saw a gigantic figure rising over a hedgerow, with right arm extended over the road. Then a ball of fire appeared above, a long white ray descended and pierced the figure, which vanished. This extraordinary manifestation was witnessed simultaneously by a prominent local farmer from another standpoint. A party of youths returning from a Bryncrug meeting saw a ball of fire preceding them high above the road. Hastening forward they overtook the light, which then remained still. They knelt in the roadway, bathed in this mysterious light, and united in prayer, while the light remained stationary." (Daily News, 16th February)


Defective Arc-Lamp


11th February 1905 — “At 8.15pm I was on the hillside, walking from Dyffryn to Egryn. In the distance, about a mile away, I could see the three lighted windows of the tiny Egryn chapel, where service was going on. It was the only touch of light in the miles of countryside. Suddenly at 8.20pm I saw what appeared to be a ball of fire above the roof of the chapel. It came from nowhere, and sprang into existence simultaneously. It had a steady, intense yellow brilliance, and did not move. [...] It seemed to me to be at twice the height of the chapel, say fifty feet, and it stood out with electric vividness against the encircling hills behind. Suddenly it disappeared, having lasted about a minute and a half. [...] The minutes crept by and it was 8.35pm before I saw anything else. Then two lights flashed out, one on each side of the chapel. They seemed about 100 feet apart, and considerably higher in the air than the first one. In the night it was difficult to judge distance, but I made a rough guess that they were 100 feet above the roof of the chapel. They shone out brilliantly and steadily for a space of thirty seconds. Then they both began to flicker like a defective arc-lamp. They were flickering like that while one could count ten. Then they became steady again. In the distance they looked like large and brilliant motor-car lights. They disappeared within a couple of seconds of each other. [...] I set off to walk the four miles to Barmouth, stopping here and there for ten minutes to watch for fresh lights. [...] Just after half-past ten I was startled by a flash on the dark hillside immediately on my left, and looking up I saw I was comparatively close to one of the strange lights. It was about 300 feet up the hillside, and about 500 feet from where I stood. It shone out dazzlingly, not with a white brightness, but with a deep yellow brightness. It looked a solid bulb of light six inches in diameter, and was tiring to look at. I ran at the stone wall by the side of the road, climbed it, and made a run for the light. It was gone before I had covered a dozen yards, and I could find nothing but the bare hillside. When I reached the road again I looked back along the way I had come, and saw in the roadway near the Egryn Chapel another of the bright lights.” (Daily Mail)


Bontddu Glow

11th February 1905 — “At Bontddu, near Dolgelly, on Saturday, the brilliant effulgence of a star paled the lights of the room she occupied. Returning homewards after a meeting, her carriage was suddenly bathed in mysterious light descending from a radiant ball in the heavens. Many Barmouth people witnessed this as they were rushing to meet the carriage on entering the town.” (Daily News, 16th February)


Kernel of Fireworks


11th February 1905 [?] — “at 10.30pm [...] I then told Mrs Jones how anxious I was to see the light for myself, and she said she would pray that it might appear to me. I made arrangements to drive back behind her carriage. Both drivers consented to drive without lights. In the first carriage were Mrs Jones and three ladies, in my own with me, the Daily Mirror photographer, a keen witted, hard headed Londoner. [...] For three miles we drove in silence, and I had given up hope. It was close on midnight, and we were nearing Barmouth when suddenly, without the faintest warning, a soft shimmering radiance flooded the road at our feet. Immediately it spread around us, and every stick and stone within twenty yards was visible, as if under the influence of the softest limelight. It seemed as though some large body between earth and sky had suddenly opened and emitted a flood of light from within itself. It was a little suggestive of the bursting of a firework bomb - and yet wonderfully different. Quickly as I looked up, the light was even then fading away from the sky overhead. I looked up to see an oval mass of grey, half open, disclosing within a kernel of white light. As I looked it closed, and everything was once again in darkness. Every one saw this extraordinary light, but while it appeared to me of snowy whiteness, the rest declared it was a brilliant blue.” (Daily Mirror journalist, to the Society for Psychical Research)

[Cambrian News says Sunday; Beriah Evans in the Daily News says Saturday; Daily Mail says Saturday she was at Bontddu. But if the sighting was on the 11th, why didn't the Daily Mirror journalist see the light that bathed the Bontddu room? Perhaps because that refers to where Mary Jones was staying, and not the meeting?]


Chapel Roof Arcs


12th February 1905 [?] — “At seven o'clock I and my wife and a minister and his wife set out with Mrs. Jones from her house. We had just got outside the gate when we saw an extraordinary sight immediately over our heads, but high up in the air. It was an irregular mass of white light. It travelled with lightning speed in the direction of Egryn Chapel, a mile away. Arrived there, It suddenly took the shape of a solid triangle with rounded angles. I should estimate the length of the sides as 5ft. Immediately over one corner of the chapel it hovered, and, in spite of the distance, we could see every slate on the roof. The inside of the triangle sparkled and flashed as if set with a thousand diamonds. The brilliance of it was almost terrible. For a moment, while we stared spellbound, the mystic light rested there, and then, like the lightning flashes, described an arc in the air and again settled on the opposite corner of the chapel.”


Northern Flashes


13th February 1905 — “On Monday night the star was kept under observation through a telescope by Mr Bowen, and it travelled nearer to the land at 10.30pm. When opposite Harlech, as near as he could guess, it suddenly disappeared, and although watched for some time did not reappear. The night was clear, with a frost in the air.” (Manchester Guardian, 17th Feburary)

13th February 1905 — “suddenly in the northern sky a brilliant flash appeared, and shortly afterwards a second one, the first flash being followed by a distinct report. This light appeared momentarily, and did not seem to partake of the characteristics of lightning, but was peculiarly like the illumination produced by a magnesium flash lamp. Our delicate instruments did not respond in the slightest degree, and what these flashes really were it is impossible to conjecture.” (Daily Mail)

Rainbow Bottle


c.13th February 1905 — “It [a large square of light, half a mile from the observer over the tops of mountains a mile from Egryn Chapel] did not rest on the mountain-top, but was poised in mid-air about ten feet above. Between it and the mountain was a mass of white cloud. In the middle of the square was a bottle-shaped body, the bottom bright blue and the rest black. Out of the neck came a mass of fire of every conceivable colour. This [...] spreading on all sides, descended in a rainbow shower to the surface of the mountain. In less than a minute all was darkness.” (Daily Mirror, 16th February, via Devereux)


Bar of Light


14th February 1905 [?] — “For several hours I had been watching with the Daily Mirror photographer near the little Egryn Chapel. We took our stand at 6.30 PM, and by ten o'clock had seen nothing. Then 400 yards away I saw a light which I took for an unusually brilliant carriage lamp. When I went in its direction and was about 100 yards from the chapel, it took the form of a bar of light quite four feet wide, and of the most brilliant blue. It blazed out at me from the roadway, within a few yards of the chapel. For half a moment it lay across the road, and then extended itself up the wall on either side. It did not rise above the walls. As I stared, fascinated, a kind of quivering radiance flashed with lightning speed from one end of the bar to the other, and the whole thing disappeared. ‘Look! Look!’ cried two women standing just behind me; ‘Look at the Light!’ [...] Within ten yards of where that band of vivid light had flashed across the road, stood a little group of fifteen or twenty persons. I went up to them, all agog to hear exactly what they thought of the manifestation — but not one of those I questioned had seen anything at all!” (Rider's Review)


Gleaming and Scintillating


5th March 1905 — “‘That,’ he said, pointing to a high brick structure which faced the road, ‘is Egryn chapel, where the revival started, and where already some fifty converts have been added to the church. I hope we may see the lights,’ he said, and added, half apologetically, half pityingly: ‘It is not given to every one to see them. Spiritual things are not discernable of all men.’ The road now rose quickly, and at the summit the farmer suddenly stopped, excitedly seized my arm, and shouted triumphantly: ‘Yonder are the lights!’ He pointed with outstretched arm and shaking finger to the spot where, among the uncertain shadows, the dark outline of the chapel appeared to rest upon the hills. Beyond I saw some half-dozen lights. They gleamed, scintillated, jumped, and then vanished, to reappear at brief intervals.”


Ty'n-y-Drain


13th March 1905 — “Mrs Jones was holding a revival meeting at a Methodist schoolroom, Ty'n-y-Drain, a mile and a half from Llanbedr in the direction of the mountains. [...] It was about 11 o'clock at night, Monday, March 13th, with a little drizzling rain, but not very dark. [...] After proceeding some distance the mysterious 'light' suddenly appeared above the roadway, a few yards in front of the car, around which it played and danced, sometimes in front, at other times behind Mrs Jones' vehicle. When we reached the crossroads where the road to Egryn makes a sharp turn to the left, the 'Light', on reaching this point, instead of following the road we had travelled and going straight on as might have been expected, at once turned and made its way in the direction of Egryn in front of the car! Up to this point it had been a single 'light' but after proceeding some distance on the Egryn road, it changed. A small red ball of fire appeared, around which danced two other attendant white lights. The red fire ball remained stationary for some time, the other 'lights' playing around it. Meanwhile the car conveying Mrs Jones proceeded onwards, leaving the 'lights' behind. These then suddenly again combined in one, and made a rapid dash after the car, which it again overtook and preceded. For over a mile did we thus keep it in view.” (Barmouth Advertiser, 23rd March)

The Pwllheli Light

...

Llanfair Lights


25th March 1905 — “The night which I am going to relate you my experience was Saturday evening, March 25th, 1905, when Mrs Jones, the evangelist of Egryn, was conducting a service in the Calvinistic Methodist Chapel at Llanfair, a place about a mile and a half from Harlech, on the main road between Barmouth and Harlech. My wife and myself went down that night specially to see if the light accompanied Mrs Jones from outside Egryn. We happened to reach Llanfair about 9.15pm. It was a rather damp evening. In nearing the chapel, which can be seen from a distance, we saw balls of light, deep red, ascending from one side of the chapel, the side which is in a field. There was nothing in this field to cause this phenomenon, ie. no houses, etc. After that we walked to and fro on the main road for nearly two hours without seeing any light except from a distance in the direction of Llanbedr. This time it appeared brilliant, ascending high into the sky from amongst the trees where lives the well-known Rev.C.E. the distance between us and the light which appeared this time was about a mile. Then about eleven o'clock when the service which Mrs Jones conducted was brought to a close, two balls of light ascended from the same place and of a similar appearance to those we saw first. In a few minutes afterwards Mrs Jones was passing us home in her carriage, and in a few seconds after she passed, on the main road, and within a yard of us, there appeared a brilliant light twice, tinged with blue. In two or three seconds, after this disappeared, on our right hand, within 150 or 200 yards, there appeared twice very huge balls of similar appearance as that which appeared on the road. It was so brilliant and powerful this time that we were dazed for a minute or two. Then immediately there appeared ascending from a field high into the sky, three balls of light, deep red. Two of these appeared to split up, while the middle one remained unchanged. Then we left for home, having been watching these last phenomena for a quarter of an hour.” (Mr L.M., to the Society for Psychical Research)


Froncysyllte Lights

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Wrexham and Rhondda

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Approximate distances from Egryn Chapel:

  • Bardsey Island — W 35 miles

  • Barmouth — S 4 miles

  • Bontddu —ESE 7 miles

  • Bryncrug —S 11 miles, by Tywyn

  • Dyffryn — N 3 miles

  • Harlech — N 11 miles

  • Llanbedr — N 5 miles

  • Llanfair — N 10 miles

  • Pensarn — N 6 miles

  • Towyn — S 12 miles (Tywyn)








There`s a lot more information on the link below




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