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Wales' largest natural lake

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Lake Bala
Photo by Jen Red
Bala lies in the north of Wales, within Snowdonia National Park. It measures 6 kilometres in length and 1.5 kilometres in width, making it the largest natural lake in the country. In Welsh its name is "Llyn Tegid", which means "lake of serenity".

Photo by Jen Red
There are boats available for hire in all shapes and sizes, as well as canoes, kayaks and other craft. You can go fishing if you like, either from the shore, or off the side of a boat. However, anglers are not permitted to catch a certain species of fish called a Gwyniad. This relative of the herring is not found anywhere else on the planet. Thankfully they live in the deeper parts of the lake, so catching one by accident is unlikely.
Fishing and sailing are popular pursuits, but to many people, the real reason to come to Bala is for the watersports. The winds sweep across the surface of the lake, making it a perfect place for wind surfing and yachting.

Photo by Jen Red
Another place to get your adrenaline pumping is the National Whitewater Centre. It's just a short distance to the north, on the Tryweryn river. This was the first whitewater rafting company in Britain, and it's still the largest. It's probably the best place to go rafting or canoeing in the country. In fact, the rapids here are so good that they're used for national and international competitions. The flow of water is controlled by a dam upriver, so the conditions are almost always perfect.

Photo by Justin Beckley
If you don't fancy getting wet, you can still enjoy the walking and cycling routes which surround the water. One of the best ways to take in the incredible views is by hopping onboard the Bala Lake Railway. The steam-powered trains make a 14-kilometre journey that traces the lake's eastern edge. The line begins at a small settlement called Llanuwchllyn, which means "the village above the lake". You can watch the trains being serviced before they set off on their travels.

The Bala Lake Railway
Photo by Nigel Cliff
At the end of the spectacular journey, you'll reach Bala town, at the northern tip of the lake. This pretty little settlement has some friendly shops and restaurants along its main street. It also holds a market on Mondays. This is an old town, so there are plenty of interesting historical places to find. One of the best is a raised mound of earth, which used to hold Bala's castle. The building is long gone, but if you climb up to where it used to be, you can get some fantastic views over the lake.

A Chapel in Bala
Photo by loganberrybunny
Bala is a place where traditional Welsh culture is valued very highly. School children, for example, have to learn the harp as part of their curriculum! As you look round, you're likely to hear plenty of Welsh, as 80% of the town's population are fluent in their national language.

Photo by Fictional Future
As pretty as the town of Bala is, almost all the tourists come for the lake. With its notoriously clear water, it's one of the prettiest places in the Snowdonia National Park. Legend has it that if you sail across its waters on a moonlit night, you can catch sight of some towers beneath the surface. These are part of a colossal underwater palace, lying serenely on the lake bed. Some say it's inhabited by King Tegid, a legendary monarch from deep in Wales' past.
Visitor Information
Bala Lake Railway runs a service daily from April to September (excluding Mondays and Fridays in off-peak times). Special journeys run in winter. Return fares cost around £9 for adults, £3 for children. The Station, Llanuwchllyn, Gwynedd, LL23 7DD. Tel: 01678 540 666

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