The Best Known Lakes in Wales

They make up just one percent of its total area, but the lakes in Wales occupy a central place in the country’s culture and heritage as well as attracting tourists and wildlife. Let’s explore the famous lakes of Wales.

Travel and Exploration
24 November 2022

The famous lakes of Wales are places where rare birds and sailing tourists mingle with folklore and ancient history.

There seems to be no shortage of picturesque lakes within Wales, boasting stunning scenery and an incredible array of wildlife. Indeed, the lakes of Wales have long been a source of inspiration for artists and writers, and their natural beauty has been captured in countless paintings and poems. Yet, these are much more than beautiful waterscapes; they are an important part of Welsh culture and history.

And so, let’s explore these Welsh lakes or, as they’re known locally, llynnoedd Cymru.

Llyn Tegid

Bala Lake or Llyn Tegid, Bala, Snowdonia (Photo: Trevor-Mayes via Getty Images)

There are so many different lakes in Wales, each with its own unique character. We begin with one of lakes in north Wales, Llyn Tegid. Formed towards the end of the last Ice Age, it holds the title of being the largest natural lake in the whole country with a surface area of 1.87 square miles. Commonly known as Bala Lake, after the nearby town, it’s popular for its fishing and boating opportunities.

Llangorse, Brecon Beacons

Llangors Lake, Breacon Beacons at Sunrise (Photo: MargaretClavell via Getty Images)

Approximately five miles southeast of the town of Brecon, in Brecon Beacons National Park, is the largest of all natural lakes in south Wales. Set in a rock basin gouged into the land by glacial movement, Llangorse or ‘Llyn Syfaddon’ is approximately two miles long and one mile wide, and has a maximum depth of about 30 feet. Tourists, locals and rare birds alike flock to what is one of the most famous lakes of Wales. Not only does it offer stunning views of the surrounding mountains and valleys, but it’s a popular fishing spot and hosts a huge variety of wildlife, including otters, ducks, water voles and geese. It features frequently in Welsh folk tales and, if evidence was required of its historic importance, it exists in the form of Wales’ only Crannog. This is an artificial island thought to have been an ancient palace.

Llyn Idwal, Snowdonia National Park

Llyn Idwal (Photo: FatManPhotoUK via Getty Images)

Llyn Idwal is a small lake with a big story. Legend has it the lake is named after the son of a mediaeval prince who was murdered there. It’s said all the birds at Idwal fled in sorrow at what had been done to the boy. To this day, it is known as the lake where no birds fly.

In addition to its mythical background, Llyn Idwal has also played a part in scientific history. Of the lakes in Wales, it was here that Charles Darwin visited and made several geological observations. As if all this wasn’t enough, it is also one of the most picturesque lakes within Wales.

Llyn y Dywarchen, Snowdonia

Llyn Y Dywarchen (Photo: C T Aylward via Getty Images)

In his painting of Llyn y Dywarchen titled ‘On the Wye’, 18th century artist Richard Wilson depicted a man who appears to be sailing its waters on some turf. This was a nod to the island that once floated on the lake, the name of which translates as ‘The lake of the Turf Island’.

It’s said the island floated freely across the waters, occasionally causing cattle to climb onto it and become marooned. It’s unclear as to how or when the island disappeared, but it’s no longer there. Aside from geological anomalies, Llyn y Dywarchen is also renowned for its links with Welsh folklore, especially that of fairies.

Exploring Famous Welsh Lakes

Water lilies on Llyn Tecwyn Isaf, North Wales (Photo: R A Kearton via Getty Images)

Wales is a country with many natural treasures, and one of its most precious gems is its collection of stunning Welsh lakes. From the serene waters of Llyn Conwy to the mysterious Llyn Idwal, it’s clear that these amazing lakes in south Wales and north offer much more than meets the eye.


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