Bala Lake

  • United Kingdom Wales Snowdonia, Bala Lake, Bala Lake, Walkopedia

Key information: Bala Lake

  • A circuit around the misty Bala Lake, the largest natural lake in Wales, in the breathtaking countryside of Snowdonia National Park.

Walkopedia rating

  • Walkopedia rating82
  • Beauty30
  • Natural interest14
  • Human interest10
  • Charisma28
  • Negative points0
  • Total rating82

Vital Statistics

  • Length: Day or less
  • Level of Difficulty: Moderate



The following is Sally Gutteridge's piece on walking here, which was an entry we much enjoyed for our 2011 Travel Writing Competition. Thank you, Sally, for bringing this walk to our attention!

Winter Wanderings in Wales

December snow. Two dogs walking and little oldie terrier in a backpack. We decide to walk around the misty Bala Lake. Not our finest decision. With three hours to darkness. Let the hike begin. Out comes the trusty point and click. The defined path a wonder. The snapshots artistic. Dogs race alongside the water. Sun smiles through the clouds. There is a coffee shop in the distance.

We have been walking for half an hour: "don't we deserve a coffee? Maybe even a cake? I think so!?" I state decisively. Taste buds dance in anticipation. I can use their ladies'. Things in that area are beginning to get uncomfortable.

Smug pink faces wiped clean. Our wonderful lakeside café is closed. Bolted. Its quaint interior indicates no vending action for weeks. There is a public toilet, thank goodness. Somewhere to park the contents of my protesting bladder. But the toilet has frozen. Its flood turned to ice. Door frozen open. Nevertheless I have to go. Distressed I run in circles deciding what to do. I'm perspiring. Believing its salvation is upon us my bladder is defying me. It wants to let go. I plop the surprised backpacked dog unceremoniously in his arms and slither into the cubicle on the inch thick ice and fumble with the seemingly chastely clad catch of my jeans. Relief. I simultaneously order him to guard the door and block sight of me from any passing stroller.

We are a quarter of the way around the lake and after this incident we regain our momentum. Pick up the packaged dog and hike on. Whilst I attempt to regain a little red faced self-respect.

We slog on certain the lake is getting bigger. We discuss the sinking winter sun. Dogs seem happy. We help number three from the bag and warm swaddling so that she can do her 'business' We resolve to progress. Walk for an age. I dream of my coffee. He takes a turn with the backpack.

The ground is getting irregular. We are climbing over fences and under branches. Scowling and bickering. Not sure if anyone has walked this barren nowhere side of the lake within our lifetime. I'm prickled, moaning and freezing. The sun is going down as are our smiles and spirits, as are our dogs' energies. Still we press on, gazing longingly at the opposite side of the lake towards the general direction of our little warm car.

It's dark and we are plodding along a railway track. He is still taking pictures. I'm not smiling on them. Dog on back, dog on lead to prevent compulsory sheep worrying. No idea where we trudge yet keeping the water on our right. I am walking on the frozen lake desperately trying to head for the car. Achieve a 45 degree turn to firm land with a slight hypothermic panic and continue plodding.

We get to the far end of the lake. A right turn back towards the car. Scale the Southside, last quarter of the unpopular water and we are home and dry, loosely speaking. Neither of us considered that a lake has to be filled by something other than rain. In many cases a river. I think my scientific man is about to join me for a mutual prayer to the unknown abyss of muddy winter night sky.

We try our luck with natural stepping stones that stretch fifteen meters across the fast running river. Me watching and encouraging, him dancing a merry jig in the dark. Too risky; he returns.

We hang ourselves dejectedly on a couple of waist high wire fences. Walk around in circles looking for a longed-for yet nonexistent farmhouse. Give each other the look of blame. Look for and find a bridge. Quarrel a few times. Finally we cross the river and dither our way along a dark country road the 3 miles or so to our car.


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