Lakes & Mountains
Lakes, mountains, rapid rivers and waterfalls within the Snowdonia National Park
Bala & Penllyn is situated in the southern part of Snowdonia. The combination of lakes and mountains provide excellent scenery as well as outstanding outdoor facilities. The main lakes include Bala Lake (Llyn Tegid), Lake Vyrnwy (Llyn Efyrnwy), Llyn Celyn, Trawsfynydd Lake, Llyn Brenig, Cregennen Lakes and Tal y Llyn.
The jewel in the crown is Bala Lake, see picture, the largest natural lake in Wales. The lake is over 3½ miles long, ¾ mile wide and over 140 feet deep in places. The lake is set in stunning mountain scenery and is a popular venue for fishing and water-sports including sailing, kayaking and canoeing. There are two sailing clubs located on the lake and there are hire facilities for canoeing and sailing at the Bala end. Alternatively you can sit back, relax and view the lake from the narrow-gauge railway which runs along the east shore of the lake from Llanuwchllyn to Bala, a great favourite of children. For more detailed information about Bala Lake or the wildlife visit the Warden's Office on the Lake Foreshore (Bala) or try the SNPA website. For current views try the SNPA Webcam looking down Bala Lake from the Warden's Office to the Arans or the Bala Sailing Club Webcam looking across the lake from the Club.
The mountains were originally formed some 500 million years ago, the lower ones were laid-down under the sea while the higher more rugged mountains were the result of volcanic action. The area has been shaped by glaciation. More information on Geology of the Bala area. The principal mountain ranges around Bala are:
- To the south is the Aran mountain range with 14 summits above 2,000 ft (610 m). The Aran ridge covers the principal summits including Aran Fawddwy (2,969 ft/905 m) and Aran Benllyn (2,904 ft/885 m).
- To the west is the Arenig mountain range with 13 summits above 2000 ft (610 m). Arenig Fawr (2,800 ft/854 m) is the principal summit.
- To the north-east and east is the Berwyn mountain range with 24 summits above 2000 ft (610 m). The three principle summits can be climbed in one walk, including: Cadair Berwyn (2,723 m/ft 830 m), Moel Sych (2,710 ft/827m) and Cadair Bronwen (2,710 ft/827m).
There are many mountain streams and fast flowing rivers in the area, providing excellent game fishing. There are several impressive waterfalls and the highest waterfall in Wales, Pistyll Rhaeadr (240 ft high), is found on the east side of the Berwyn Mountains, see picture. It can be visited in a scenic drive over the Berwyns or combined with a mountain walk.
The River Tryweryn between Llyn Celyn and Bala provides "reliable" white-water, with regular water releases guaranteeing good water conditions. The river is the home of Canolfan Tryweryn the National Whitewater Centre, an extremely popular venue for whitewater rafting, kayaking or canoeing.
The River Dee flows in and out of Bala Lake before continuing to Corwen and Llangollen. Another popular section of white-water runs through Llangollen, where there is a permanent white-water site with class 2-3 white-water.
There are opportunities for biking including on quiet roads, hill climbing over mountain passes and mountain-biking at purpose built centres or exploring the tracks over moors and through forests.