There are 389 natural lakes in the whole of Wales, with 250 in Snowdonia. The Welsh for ‘lake’ is ‘llyn’ and often referred to in this way, similar to lochs in Scotland. Though there are many lakes in Snowdonia, they are small and relatively shallow, found in valleys between mountains, and often glacial. One of the most beautiful in the area is Tal-y-llyn Lake.
As soon as you approach the lake you cannot fail to be impressed by the beauty and peace surrounding this place. It is one of our favourite spots in Snowdonia, my wife and I are emotionally attached to this lake, it is as magical as our love story.
Tal-y-llyn Lake (The Lake of the Charming Retreat) used to be more commonly known as Llyn y Mwyngil. It is about a mile in length. It is stunning glacial ribbon lake situated at the foot of one of Wales’ most iconic mountains, Cadair Idris.
The lake of Wales by Frank Ward, the lake is described as follows:
There are very many beautiful lakes in Wales, but when sunlight and cloud play over Tal-y-llyn with every delicate graduation of colour, few can equal and none excel, the combined grandeur and loveliness of this peaceful valley. The first glimpse on a fire spring morning from the head of the valley approaching from the Dolgellau side is alone compensate for the long journey. Far above are the sun-bathed grey and purple mountains summits, and in the deep oval of the valley below lies Tal-y-llyn, turquoise and gold in a deep setting of emerald, the surface ruffles here and there to glistening cobalt by a gentle breeze. Beauty of outline and colouring that is almost magical in its delicacy, combine to produce an effect indescribably restful. To enter this valley years ago was to pass into what seemed another country. The beauty remains, but the old atmosphere has gone with ancient conveyance, and equally venerable horse and driver, that met the angler at one of the two “Toy Railway” stations 3 miles away. The motor has opened up this ‘sleepy hollow’, and today it is a favourite spot for picnics, appearing prominently on announcements of “Afternoon and Evening Tours”.
Nature and Wildlife
Tal-y-llyn Lake is mostly rather shallow, the bed of the lake being covered with weeds and aquatic plants, providing abundant food, and trout grow here rapidly.
There is a pretty stream full of small trout below the lake, further down, near Tywyn this river, the Dysynni, is of considerable size and holds a few salmon and sewing as well as brown trout.
About half way down the lake is an alluvial fan (an alluvial fan is a build up of river or stream sediments which form a sloping landform, shaped like an open fan or a segment of a cone) created during Ice Age and is thought to be the only one in Europe.
This lake has become a special destination for us, we have been coming here for the last 12 years. We’ve been attracted not only by natural beauty but also by a special energy can be felt in this place.
Mute swans are regularly seen on Tal-y-llyn waters. It is said that a pair of swans will generally remain in the same area for life using the same nest site.
Swans in Welsh Mythology
The Swan, which is called “Alarch” in Welsh is known for its majestic grace and gliding mystical beauty. Little wonder then that these birds of the family Anatidae within the genus Cygnus are associated with the gods and goddesses of the Celtic peoples.
They are seen as having links to the Otherworld community whose world was reached through mists, hills, lakes, ponds, wetland areas, caves, ancient burial sites, cairns and mounds. Within these realms dwelt the Celtic gods with all of their supernatural ability. Association with these deities gave the swan an exalted status linked to the Celtic festivals such as those of Beltane and Samhain.
Where to stay
Address: Tyn y Cornel Hotel, Talyllyn, Tywyn, LL369AJ
The Tyn y Cornel Hotel is right on the shores of the beautiful Tal-y-llyn Lake, and just a short drive from Tywyn and Cader Idris. It’s a tranquil spot, and the hotel’s lakeside benches are always popular for a sundowner. This is a good base to explore the Snowdonia National Park, with Dolgellau the nearest town.
We stayed few times in the Swan room which has a fantastic view of the lake, plus it has its own terrace where you can seat outside and enjoy yours drinks admiring the lake.
Address: Pen Y Bont Hotel, Tal-y-llyn, Tywyn LL36 9AJ
This hotel (now B&B) dates back to the 16th century when it was a Coaching Inn providing accommodation for travellers and changes of horses for carriages. This charming place benefits from lake’s view and Cader Idris from the distance. There is a walk from the hotel, to the top of Cader Idris, which is about four miles in length and was used by its founder by carrying up supplies by horse.
This place is run by lovely couple Angela and Brian who provided us tasty food and a very warm welcome.