Snowdonia’s lakes are ideal for all sorts of activities, like fishing, boating or simply strolling and enjoying the stunning surroundings. Spoilt for choice? Here’s our guide to ten of Snowdonia’s loveliest lakes.
Where there are mountains, there are lakes. And where both are concerned, Snowdonia has more than its fair share: scores of both, in fact. But which of Snowdonia’s lakes to visit? It’s not always an easy choice to make, so here are ten we think are worth including on your list.
1. Llyn Tegid
It’s fitting that we start with Llyn Tegid – Bala Lake – as it’s in Penllyn, a district of Snowdonia sometimes described as the Welsh Lake District. The lake, on the edge of the old market town of Bala, is the largest natural lake in Wales and is the setting for many folk tales, including Teggie – the Welsh equivalent of the Loch Ness monster. The lake is, as you’d expect, a popular venue for fans of all sorts of water sports, and is also a favourite with walkers and steam train enthusiasts, who enjoy trips around the lake on the Bala Lake Railway.
2. Trawsfynydd Lake
The lake at Trawsfynydd – actually a man-made reservoir – is a beautiful place for a stroll, but it’s especially popular with anglers who enjoy fishing for the wild brown trout that populate the lake. These average 1lb, but it’s not unknown to catch them as large as 7lb. There’s a fleet of 40 boats with outboard motors on-site, and these are made available for fly fishing with no prohibited areas. The lake is also a popular spot for bird watchers, whose patience is occasionally rewarded with a glimpse of an osprey.
3. Llyn Cwellyn
For accessible lakeside strolls, Llyn Cwellyn is hard to beat. The Janus Path is a wooden boardwalk reached via the Snowdon Ranger car park, with facilities including disabled parking, accessible toilet, benches and accessible picnic tables. The path takes you through the woodland at the edge of Llyn Cwellyn and enables you to see some really outstanding views of Snowdon and the surrounding mountains.
4. Llyn Padarn
Llyn Padarn is a beautiful lake at Llanberis, home to many of Snowdonia’s top attractions and activities. Overlooked by the haunting remains of Dolbadarn Castle, the lake is very deep – the sixth deepest in Wales – and home to the Arctic Char, a fish ‘left behind’ by the last ice age. Set within the beautiful countryside of the Padarn Country Park, Llyn Padarn is a real favourite, and a great place for a walk – or why not try out some of the park’s other activities and attractions while you’re there, too?
5. Llyn Cau
You’ll have to work hard to reach Llyn Cau, as it’s practically at the top of one of Wales’ most famous mountains, Cadair Idris, in Southern Snowdonia. The lake, according to legend, is bottomless, and home to a monster. We can’t guarantee you’ll see a monster if you decide to visit, but pack a camera just in case; even if you don’t see any supernatural beings, you’ll have plenty in the way of natural beauty to photograph.
6. Llyn Geirionydd
Llyn Geirionydd is a popular spot for water sports, and is the only lake in the region to allow powerboats and water skiing. Set in the beautiful Gwydyr Forest around Betws y Coed and Llanrwst, Llyn Geirionydd was – according to legend – the home of the 6th century bard Taliesin. The lake is three quarters of a mile long and not the easiest to find, but you’re bound to enjoy searching (one of the routes takes you past the ‘ugly house’; another leads from Gwydir Castle) – the scenery around this part of Snowdonia certainly has the ‘wow factor’!
7. Tal y Llyn
Tal y Llyn Lake can be found at the foot of Cadair Idris. Well, we say ‘found’ but you can’t miss it, really! It’s a large glacial lake that’s especially popular for fishing, home as it is to brown trout, sea trout and salmon. In these parts you’ll also find the Talyllyn Railway, which will take you on a never-to-be-forgotten journey around the glorious countryside of this part of Snowdonia; and if you fancy a visit to the seaside after you’ve visited the lake, Tywyn is just a short way away.
8. Llyn Llydaw
A long, thin lake, Llyn Llydaw is to be found on the flanks of mighty Snowdon. It’s one of the most visited lakes in the UK, and apparently one of the coldest, too; but you’re more likely to be there for the scenery than for swimming, so try not to let that put you off! Llyn Llydaw (which translates to ‘Brittany Lake’ in English) is one of several Welsh lakes connected to King Arthur and his sword, Excalibur. If you see the Lady of the Lake when you visit, offer the poor dear a hot drink as she’s bound to be chilly after living in that icy water!
9. Llyn Dinas
Llyn Dinas, at Beddgelert, takes its name from the nearby ancient fort of Dinas Emrys – said to have connections with Arthur’s wizard friend Merlin, whose name in Welsh was Myrddin Emrys. As you’d expect, this means the lake also has its part to play in the Arthurian stories. Fascinating folklore aside, Llyn Dinas is an excellent spot for walking and fishing; it’s fairly shallow and a good place to catch salmon and trout.
10. Llyn Ogwen
You’ll find Llyn Ogwen between two of Snowdonia’s mountain ranges – the Glyderau and the Carneddau – and just a few miles from the village of Bethesda. This very shallow lake is another that’s well loved by fishermen, who fish there for trout. The lake sits among very dramatic, beautiful scenery so understandably it’s very popular (the upside to this is there are plenty of parking spaces if you’re visiting by car). This lake’s Arthurian connection is that it’s said to be the final resting place of Excalibur, but that’s also said of Llyn Llydaw, so who knows which of them claimed the king’s steel after all?