Nestled within the breath-taking landscapes of Snowdonia National Park, in the heart of North Wales, lies the enchanting Bala Lake. Known in Welsh as Llyn Tegid, it’s the largest natural body of water in Wales. You can find this gem roughly midway between the coastal town of Barmouth and the historic city of Chester.
Getting to Bala Lake is part of the adventure, with a journey that’s as captivating as the destination itself. If you’re driving, take the A494 that leads directly into the town of Bala. For those relying on public transport, the nearest train stations are at Blaenau Ffestiniog and Wrexham. From there, local bus services can whisk you away to the lake’s edge.
One of the most striking landmarks is the charming town of Bala, perched on the lake’s eastern edge. With its lively local market, independent shops, and cosy pubs, Bala offers a unique blend of Welsh culture and history. Remember to pop into St. Mary’s Church, an architectural marvel dating back to the 14th century.
On the lake itself, the expansive view is dominated by the majestic Arenig Fawr and Aran mountain ranges. These provide the perfect backdrop for an unforgettable lakeside photo or a peaceful picnic.
A trip to Bala Lake isn’t complete without a scenic stroll around its perimeter. The Bala Lake Circular Walk, approximately 14 miles in total, offers spectacular views across the lake and surrounding mountains. For a shorter ramble, try the Foreshore Footpath, a gentle 3.5-mile trail ideal for families. These paths brim with native wildlife and vibrant flora, truly showcasing the richness of Welsh biodiversity.
Now, did you know that Bala Lake is home to a unique species of fish? The Gwyniad, a relic from the Ice Age, can’t be found anywhere else in the world. And, according to local legend, the lake is also inhabited by ‘Teggie’, a mysterious creature similar to the Loch Ness Monster.
The Bala Lake Railway, or Rheilffordd Llyn Tegid, is another must-see. This narrow-gauge heritage railway runs along the southern shore of the lake. The vintage steam locomotives offer a nostalgic journey back in time, with stunning views of the lake and surrounding countryside. Along the 4.5-mile line, you’ll find quaint stations like Llanuwchllyn (‘the village above the lake’) and Penybont, each with its own story to tell.
If you’re feeling adventurous, why not try your hand at watersports? Bala Lake is a hub for sailing, windsurfing, canoeing, and fishing. There’s also a local watersports centre that offers equipment and lessons for all ages and skill levels.
Food lovers will be in their element, too. The surrounding area boasts an array of charming eateries, offering everything from traditional Welsh dishes to modern gourmet cuisine. Don’t miss out on sampling a mouth-watering Welsh rarebit or bara brith, a fruity tea bread.
Bala Lake truly offers something for everyone, whether you’re a history buff, an outdoor enthusiast, or simply looking for a peaceful escape. So, dust off your walking boots, grab your camera, and get ready for an unforgettable journey into the heart of Welsh countryside. You’ll be welcomed with open arms and leave with memories to cherish forever.