Bala Lake, Wales's largest natural lake, has a lot to boast about. It offers visitors both natural beauty and the venue for plenty of outdoor activities. The long lake (4 miles long by 1 mile wide) covers 1,084 acres and lies between the Aran and Arenig mountains at the southern edge of Snowdonia National Park in northern Wales.
Water skiers, rafters, anglers, and walkers will all enjoy what Bala Lake and the surrounding area have to offer. Known as Llyn Tegid ('Lake of Serenity') in Welsh, Bala Lake and the rivers around it are well known for good fishing. In addition to the abundant numbers of pike, trout, European perch and eel, Bala Lake is also home to a unique and protected fish called the gwyniad, a whitefish relative of salmon. Nearby rivers are excellent sites for grayling fishing and fly fishing (Upper Dee River) and wild brown trout (Tryweryn, Llafar, Lliw, and Llyn Cwmprysor Rivers). Other boating and water sports like sailing and windsurfing are available, and boats can be rented in the local area, though reservations should be made well in advance during holiday periods.
In addition to the activity that Bala Lake itself offers, the River Tryweryn, found northwest of the town, offers class-III and occasional class-IV white water rafting throughout the year. The Canolfan Tryweryn National Whitewater Centre is a good place to enquire about rafting opportunities. Additionally, this river and others entering the lake are popular with canoeists and kayakers. Cyclists will also enjoy the roads and vistas surrounding the lake.
Welsh is spoken regularly in the historic town of Bala, which sits on the shore of the lake and is an excellent base from which to explore north Wales and Snowdonia National Park. The lake and area are steeped in legends, one of which claims a monster called ‘Teggie’ calls the lake its home.
The town offers historic town walks, good shops, a weekly market and a range of types of accommodation. A helpful tourist information centre can be found in Bala near the lakeshore. Railway enthusiasts will enjoy a ride on the Bala Lake Steam Railway, a narrow gauge line that travels a 9-mile return journey along the southern
lakeshore to the village Llanuwchllyn. The journey lasts about an hour in each direction and can be extended by stopping at a number of stations along the way. Another picturesque site along the lakeshore is Llanycil Church, which sits on an ancient Celtic Christian site.
Attractions a little further afield include the spectacular scenery and outdoor pursuits found in Snowdonia National Park, the village Betws-y-Coed in the heart of Snowdonia and the International Eisteddfod festival in Llangollen, which brings music and dance from around the world each July.
Bala Lake is easy to reach from much of Wales via the A494 Dolgellau Road that runs along its western shore. It's within an hour's drive to many north and central Wales coastal attractions like Conwy and is approximately 1.5 hours from Manchester airport.