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The picturesque market town of Bala is situated on the banks of the tranquil Bala Lake. It’s always popular with visitors and definitely worth visiting. “Bala” is a Welsh word that refers a route between 2 areas of wet ground, in this case the river Dee from Llyn Tegid and the Afon (river)Tryweryn. The town is very traditional, and ranks 11th in terms of the highest percentage of Welsh speakers; almost 80% of the community speak the Brittonic language fluently.

The town is quite small; it more or less lies on either side of one main street, the Stryd Fawr (“Great Street”). In the past, Bala was known for manufacture, particularly of items of clothing such as gloves and stockings. These days – since the decline of that particular industry – Bala is much more famous for being a tourist destination.

Bala Lake is one of the town’s main draws, beautiful as it is, with plenty of opportunities for water sports, with two sailing clubs and the option of renting kayaks, canoes and yachts. The lake is actually the largest natural lake in Wales, measuring two square miles in surface area, and is named Llyn Tegid in Welsh, which translates to “Lake of Tegid”. That should tell you all you need to know about Bala Lake.

It’s a fantastic spot for some fishing, with the main catches being perch, roach, pike, trout, and salmon, though it is also home to the critically endangered gwyniad, a small whitefish that is found only in this lake and has lived there since the last Ice Age, 10,000 or so years ago.

Voted the best small railway in 2012, the Bala Lake Railway is home to Alice, the Little Welsh Engine, who looks like a character straight from the pages of Thomas the Tank Engine. The journey is a lovely one, taking you along the lake and through the Snowdonia National Park for 9 miles of bliss and natural beauty. There’s even a buffet for you to enjoy whilst on board.

Bala is a great place for lovers of the outdoors. For starters, there is a wide variety of walking and hiking trails centred around the town. This is no surprise, as Bala lies just inside the confines of Snowdonia, ensuring there is a great deal of beautiful countryside for its visitors to explore. There are also a couple of all-ability trails, allowing people with pushchairs, wheelchairs and mobility scooters to revel in the sights as well.

There are also three heritage trails for you to enjoy. These interesting and informative trails take visitors through the history of Bala and its people. One is dedicated to the town itself, another features Betsi Cadwaladr – the Welsh Florence Nightingale, and the third will teach you about Mary Jones, the inspiration behind Bala’s famous Bible Society, who in 1800 walked the 25 miles from her village to Bala to buy a Bible.

If that’s not enough, there are some relaxing cycle routes available, as well as some (decidedly less relaxing) downhill mountain biking trails, in addition to canoe trails and even some car trails, for those who want to see as much as possible of the surrounding countryside. Bala is a beautiful town in a beautiful area; click here to see where you can stay to make the most of it or have a look at The Barn which is on the southern shores of the lake.

For white water enthusiast visit the National White Water Centre

Location

To the north of Llyn Tegid (or Lake Bala) it is reached via the A494 from Dolgellau in the south or Corwen to the north.

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