A Short Introduction to North Wales
There isn’t a universal definition for North Wales. Often-times, it is assumed to be the six northern-most of the principal areas. However, there are other definitions as well, with an excellent example being the one that also includes Montgomeryshire. Regardless, this means that North Wales is a rather mountainous region, filled with a fine selection of trails and other natural sites of interest. In particular, I had the great pleasure of visiting its lakes, meaning that I have a fair number of stories to share.
What Are the Most Beautiful Lakes in North Wales?
Here is my opinion on the most beautiful lakes that can be found in North Wales:
1. Llyn Geirionydd
In the 19th century, the surrounding region was an industrial landscape. This can be seen in how the car park once served as a waste tip site for the local lead mine. Nowadays, Llyn Geirionydd has recovered its natural beauty, with the result that it has become a popular destination for lakeside picnickers. Indeed, my wife and I have fond memories of the place because of a very romantic experience. Besides this, Llyn Geirionydd was supposedly once home of the 6th century poet Taliesin, which is why there is now a stone monument to the legendary figure standing on the northern bank.
Location: A5(T), Betws-Y-Coed, Caernarfonshire, United Kingdom, LL24 0.
Take the minor road from Gwydir Castle, Llanrwst and follow signs for Geirionydd.Or take the minor road from Pont-y-Pair in Betws-y-Coed, or the road from the Ugly House, Betws-y-Coed
2. Tal-y-llyn Lake
Tal-y-llyn means “the end of the lake. As such, it is amusing to note that Tal-y-llyn Lake means “the lake at the end of the lake.” Regardless, it is a glacial ribbon lake situated at the foot of Cadair Idris, which is one of the most famous mountains in the whole of the land. My wife and I are fond of this lake as well, so much so that we have visited it again and again over the last 12 years because of its beauty as well as its special energy.
Location: Talyllyn, Tywyn, LL369AJ
3. Llyn y Fan Fach
Llyn y Fan Fach means something along the lines of “little lake close to the peak,” so it should come as no surprise to learn that it sits on the northern margin of the Black Mountain. It is mentioned in the Mabinogion. Supposedly, Llyn y Fan Fach was where a farmer named Rhiwallon met a beautiful fairy besides the waters. He convinced her to marry him, though he had to agree to the condition that she would return home if he ever struck three causeless blows. Unfortunately, Rhiwallon did indeed strike three causeless blows, thus resulting in their separation. However, their three sons would find her in the future, thus resulting in them being taught herbal cures that enabled them to find a tradition of physicians that would last until the 18th century.
Location: Brecon Beacons National Park, Carmarthenshire. Llangadog SA19 9UN
4. Llyn Padarn
Llyn Padarn holds the distinction of being one of the biggest lakes in Wales. From a historical point of view, it is interesting because Llywelyn the Great built Dolbadarn Castle on a hilltop overlooking it. However, modern travelers might be more interested by its western end, which is reputed for being one of the best places in Snowdonia from which to view the sunset.
Location: Llyn Padarn, Llanberis, LL55 4TY
5. Llyn Eigiau
This is one of the more remote lakes, which is obscured by a dam wall that has suffered considerable deterioration. Llyn Eigiau has some historical claim to fame, being the place where King Edward I of England held the celebration for his 45th birthday. Something that doubled as the celebration for his victory over Llywelyn the Great. This stand in stark contrast to the nearby Carnedd Llywelyn, which was named for that same individual.
Location: Llyn Eigiau car park (grid ref. SH731662), reached by a narrow lane from Tal-y-bont LL32 8SH on the B5106 Conway to Betws-y-coed road
6. Llyn Idwal
Unlike a lot of the other places mentioned here, Llyn Idwal boasts a more forbidding appearance. This isn’t helped by the dark nature of its best-known story. In short, Idwal was the son of Prince Owen Gwynedd, who had been entrusted to the care of Nefydd the Handsome. Unfortunately, Nefydd proved unworthy of his responsibility, for he convinced his son Phun to murder Idwal before throwing the body into the lake. Ever since, no birds will fly over the site.
Location: Llyn Idwal, Bangor LL57 3LZ (3 mile loop trail located near Llanberis, Gwynedd)
7. Llyn y Barfog
For people interested in something more remote, there is Llyn y Barfog. It is said to be the place where King Arthur overcame a terrible monster called the Afanc, which resembled beavers, crocodiles, and other water-dwelling creatures but was none of them in truth. Supposedly, when Arthur heard of the monster’s rampage throughout the surrounding region, he bound it with a chain, dragged it onto land using his horse Llamrai, and then killed it there. This association with the monster is one of the proposed explanations for why Llyn y Barfog is called the Bearded Lake. Alternatively, it could be explained by the reed beds that border the lake, thus providing it with an appearance deserving of the epithet.
Location: to see Llyn Barfog and Carn March Arthur, you should make your way to Cwm Maethlon or Happy Valley near Aberdyfi. From Glyn-yr-aur, take the A470 from Dolgellau and then travel on the A487 down towards Machynlleth. Just before reaching this town, turn right onto the A493,then take a right turn into Happy Valley soon after reaching the village of Pennal. Once on this country lane, travel for 10 minutes or so to a car park which is signposted for Llyn Barfog or the Bearded Lake.
8. Llyn Cau
Speaking of which, there is another version of how the story of the Afanc ended. In this one, King Arthur didn’t kill the monster at Llyn y Barfog. Instead, he dragged it to the much more remote Llyn Cau, where he figured it could live without causing harm to any locals. Arthur’s belief becomes much more understandable when one learns that said lake is situated high up on Cadair Idris.
Location: Llyn Cau is a 2.9 mile loop trail located near Dolgellau, Gwynedd LL36 9AJ
9. Llyn Y Dywarchen
As the Lake of the Turf Island, Llyn Y Dywarchen is a much-storied location. It is beautiful in its own right. Moreover, it has a reputation for being one of the best stargazing sites in the whole of Snowdonia. Llyn Y Dywarchen is supposed to be connected to the story of a man who married a fairy but was separated by circumstances beyond their control. However, it is a happy place because the man was able to sometimes meet her at said location, for it was a point of conjunction between two worlds. Even now, visitors are said to be able to see the spirits of the two lovers reunite under special conditions.
Location: Llyn y Dywarchen is located above the village of Drws y Coed in Dyffryn Nantlle, near Rhyd Ddu, Gwynedd (LL23 7PA)
10. Llyn Tegid
This is the biggest lake in Wales at more than four miles long as well as a mile wide at its widest point. It is known to be the home of the gwyniad fish, which became trapped in the lake towards the end of the Ice Age approximately 10,000 years ago. Moreover, there are those who say that Llyn Tegid is also home to a Welsh version of the famous Loch Ness monster.
Location: Snowdonia National Park, Bala LL23 7SR