LED Zeppelin may have broken up in 1980, following the death of drummer John Bonham, but the roll-call of castles, buildings and homes associated with the group grows in legend and stature with each passing year.

Among them is Boleskine House, the erstwhile quarters of author and occultist Aleister Crowley on the southern bank of Loch Ness was once owned by the band’s guitarist Jimmy Page. He bought it in 1970 but would spend little time there, and eventually sold the property in the early-1990s.

Headley Grange, an English manor home and one-time poorhouse in Hampshire, is where the four-piece recorded most of their untitled fourth album (known as Led Zeppelin IV or “Zoso”) as well as subsequent work.

Perhaps the most enigmatic of the many locations linked with Page, Bonham, Robert Plant and John Paul Jones remains Bron-Yr-Aur. It was to this 18th-century farm cottage in Wales that, after a spirit-sapping 15-month tour, Plant and Page retreated to further develop their songwriting partnership.

After almost six hours of travelling, I am beguiled by tales in the company of two locals, Bron-Yr-Aur owner and resident Scott Roe and Charles Dark, owner of the Wynstay Hotel. As the flame burns against an open fire I listen to tales of Page and Plant “with swords on horseback” quaffing “hampers of champagne” and “riding motorbikes as fast as they could down country lanes to the Glyndwr Hotel for a hot bath”.

The owner of an independent record shop in the town, now long gone, used to “talk in hushed tones about Zeppelin’s time here saying, ‘I can tell you stories if you buy a record’.” Roe adds: “Even now it would be peculiar and shocking to see these guys. It would have been insane.”

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Led Zeppelin III, which set out a significant change in course from electrified blues to traditional English and Celtic folk. The bucolic surroundings and hills of Snowdonia gave the band a softer power attached to the land.

Earlier songs such as Ramble On (which referenced Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings) and Black Mountain Side, the latter heavily influenced by Scottish guitarist Bert Jansch, were suggestive of a more pastoral direction that would be fully realised on Led Zeppelin III.

This is a point recognised on the sleeve notes of the album: “Credit must be given to Bron-y-aur, a small derelict cottage in South Snowdonia for painting a somewhat forgotten picture of true completeness which acted as an incentive to some of these musical statements.”

The notes and album track Bron-Y-Aur Stomp feature an unintentional misspelling that would be corrected for the release of the acoustic cut, Bron-Yr-Aur, on a subsequent album, Physical Graffiti. When Roe hands me his acoustic guitar outside the cottage it’s the Arcadian elegance of this instrumental piece that naturally comes out of the steel and wood.

Clocking in at just over two minutes, Page captured something of the essence of this place and, before playing it to an American audience in 1970, Plant explained that Bron-Yr-Aur translated as “golden breast (sometimes golden hill), which leaves a lot to the imagination. This cottage is placed upon the side of a hill because every morning when the sun comes up, from a distance, the slate stone looks like gold”.

Ruth Roe’s connection to the cottage goes back to 1970 when her father, a vicar, bought Bron-Yr-Aur as a holiday home, knowing nothing of the previous tenants. The cottage had no running water or electricity during the band’s time and remains off-grid to this day. The couple and their daughter survive on renewable energy.

Scott, an environmental consultant, admits it can be a tough existence but he wouldn’t live anywhere else. “At some point long ago, someone decided to sell off this strange cottage in the middle of a farm. Someone involved in the ownership of the land didn’t want it having mains or electricity, access was denied for Ruth’s dad, which meant it stayed off-grid. It’s not connected to anything and that’s a rare thing in the world. It defies my scientific brain. There’s not one wire going across a piece of wood in this house.”

We wander to the mountain stream where Page was pictured in 1970 wearing a bucket hat, overcoat and wellington boots. Significantly, all the family’s hydropower comes from this flow of water.

Robert Plant’s love for the wild terrain of Wales was set in motion when his parents brought him to Bron-Yr-Aur in the mid-1950s, when he was just seven. Two years before his lifelong support of Wolverhampton Wanderers FC began, these twin pursuits would be a boon when Zeppelin hit their peak, allowing him to hide in plain sight when he was one of the biggest rock stars on the planet.

A pull towards the Welsh Marches and the borders between England and Wales as well as a fascination with the ancient tribes have only grown more robust with age.

The “Golden God” of Led Zeppelin mythology was filmed swashbuckling in full Arthurian dress at Raglan Castle, Monmouthshire, for a fantasy sequence in the band’s concert film, The Song Remains The Same.

He can still be found walking his dog through the landscape slaking what he describes as “hiraeth”, a deep longing for this place. Bron-Yr-Aur has developed a personality of its own within the band’s folklore and has become a prime rock’n’roll pilgrimage, attracting fans around the globe. They cluster beside the dark-blue door or sit on the bench outside the farm-house for a photograph.

The original stone that spells out the name of the cottage and points to its location is, however, long gone. Fans have been known to take home a personal keep-sake, even though some of these examples are not necessarily related to Zeppelin’s tenure.

“The stone wasn’t here during their time” confirms Roe. “Anyone that comes to have a look, it’s meant to be a casual thing, people have travelled the world to get here. I might be working on a plumbing job and someone arrives and your day is gone. We’ve met some lovely fans and amazing people through it but we have also met some difficult ones.

“There was one guy who had hitchhiked from Germany. He wasn’t having a good time mentally. I sat him down on the bench and we had a cup of tea and a chat. There’s a calm presence here that puts people at ease. We’ve also had a few famous people turn up at the gate, it’s funny how they present themselves, almost like royalty – especially if you don’t recognise them..

Robert Plant himself is said to have returned sporadically over the years, but a disagreement over an art project has created distance from the cottage in recent years.

“To be fair to Robert, I don’t know for sure what communication he had with my father-in-law when he owned the house. We heard that Robert wasn’t happy with us for doing a project about the cottage, which is weird.

“We are the only family that has lived in the house since Zeppelin’s time here. We sleep in that bedrock every night, my daughter has known nothing else other than Bron-Yr-Aur.

“We felt we could do an exhibition about the house, celebrating everything that has happened at Bron, including Zeppelin. He should have just come down to the exhibition and had a beer. I know he helped to fund a statue [of 15th-century rebel leader and Celtic prince, Owain Glyndwr] at a church near Machynlleth. This place is close to his heart.”

Plant is also said to own a farmhouse in the region. While this area bestows a sense of peace and fuels the imagination, those who have benefited can feel a “weird sense of ownership”. It has a power Roe compares to the One Ring from Tolkien’s previously mentioned epic fantasy. “There was a time when we nearly lost the house and I didn’t like what that did to me.”

It’s now 50 years since Page and Plant arrived here for an intense period of creativity without electric instruments. Bron-Yr-Aur and its mystic atmosphere permanently absorbed itself into Led Zeppelin, dispensing its muse for early sketches of their classic 1971 song Stairway To Heaven.

Later, as I run past a legion of Wolverhampton Wanderers fans to catch another train, I catch a quick glimpse of a regal figure who resembles the curly-haired Golden God. He’s just another face in a sea of gold and black. Anonymous on home turf, just as he was when he fronted the biggest band on the planet.

Jimmy Page: The Anthology; and Digging Deep, a 7in singles Robert Plant boxset, are out now.

For information on Bron Yr Aur visit bronyraur.com

Special thanks to Scott Roe and Charles Dark

* To consider becoming a Friend of Bron Yr Aur, find out more about the eco farm or visit the shop, go to https://bronyraur.com

For more information on Scott Roe’s ecological work visit:




For more information on The Wnnstay: https://wynnstay.wales

* Special thanks to Scott Roe and Charles Dark