Bala Tourist Guide


Bala (more correctly Y Bala) is a market town in Gwynedd, North Wales. It lies at the north end of Bala Lake (Llyn Tegid), 17 miles (27 km) north-east of Dolgellau, with a population (2001 census) of 1,980. It is little more than one wide street, Stryd Fawr (Welsh for 'Big Street' but more usually translated as 'High Street'). The main street and its shops can be quite busy in the summer months with many tourists.

Bala is ranked 11th in the list of the highest percentage of Welsh-speakers in Wales. According to the (2001 census), 80.1% of Bala's population are able to speak Welsh fluently, with the highest percentage in the 5-9 age group, 95.7%.

In the 18th century, it was well-known for the manufacture of flannel, stockings, gloves and hosiery. The Tower of Bala (Tomen) is a tumulus or "moat-hill", formerly thought to mark the site of a Roman camp.

Bala hosted the National Eisteddfod in 1967 and 1997, and is due to host it again in 2009.

The Welsh word "bala" means the outflow of a lake. Bala, Ontario, Canada was named after it in 1868. They have since become twin towns.

Coleg y Bala is at the top of the hill on the road towards Llyn Celyn. The Victoria Hall is a small old cinema, that previously was a community hall. There are several Chapels: notably - Capel Mawr and Capel Bach. The livestock market on Arenig street is still going strong.

Tourist Information Centre
Phone: 01678 521021

Attractions in Bala
The Afon Tryweryn, fed from Llyn Celyn, which runs through Bala is world famous for its white water kayaking. International governing bodies, the International Canoe Federation, the European Canoe Union and the British Canoe Union all hold national and International events there. The Canolfan Tryweryn National Whitewater Centre has its home in Bala. There are at least three local campsites that can cater for the influx of canoeists from many parts of the world.

The Bala Lake Railway (Welsh: Rheilffordd Llyn Tegid) runs for 4.5 miles from Llanuwchllyn to the edge of the town, along a section of the former trackbed of the Great Western Railway line between Ruabon and Barmouth.

An annual music festival known as 'Wa Bala' is also held in the town. The venue hosts local Welsh bands and is similar in format to Dolgellau's Sesiwn Fawr.

Bala Lake
Bala Lake (Llyn Tegid in Welsh), in Gwynedd, was the largest natural body of water in Wales prior to the level being raised by Thomas Telford to help support the flow of the Ellesmere Canal. It is 4 miles / 6.4 km long by a mile / 1.6 km wide and is subject to sudden and dangerous floods. It is crossed by the River Dee and its waters are famously deep and clear. The town of Bala sits at its northern end and the narrow gauge Bala Lake Railway runs for several kilometres along the lake's southern shore.

Bala Lake has abundant pike, European perch, trout, eel and gwyniad. It also contains the very rare mollusc Myxas glutinosa - the Glutinous snail. According to legend the lake is inhabited by a monster known affectionately as Teggie.

Also according to legend, while the Dee itself flows into the lake, the waters never mix.

The lake now forms part of the River Dee regulation System and the level at its outflow is automatically controlled. Depending on flow conditions and the level of water in Llyn Celyn, water can flow either into the lake or out from the lake at the normal outflow point.

A number of companies provide kayaks, yachts and various other types of boats for rent to tourists. On holidays these services get very busy and forward booking is essential.


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Last Updated: 28 Apr 2015