Bala Lake Railway ‘Rheilffordd Llyn Tegid’
Bala (Y Bala in Welsh) is a market town in Gwynedd, lying within the old county of Merionethshire. In the 18th century, Bala was famous for the manufacture of flannel, stockings, gloves and hosiery.
The town lies at the northern end of Bala Lake (Llyn Tegid) and seventeen miles north-east of Dolgellau and has a population of around 2,000. The town is centered around one wide street, called Stryd Fawr (High Street or Great Street). Bala hosted the National Eisteddfod in 1967, 1997 and 2009.
Betsi Cadwaladr, who worked with Florence Nightingale in the Crimea War, and who gave her name to the local Health Board, came from Bala.
Llyn Tegid is the largest natural lake in Wales, covering 1.75 square miles. It’s a popular place for a variety of waterspouts including canoeing, sailing and windsurfing. The hills around the lake are great for walking and with a large car park right beside the eastern side of the lake, it’s very popular with visitors and locals.
The lake is home to a great variety of fish, including Pike which have grown up to 40lbs, Perch have grown up to 10lbs and Eels to 7lbs. A rarer fish is the Gwyniaid, a remnant from the last Ice Age. They have adapted to living in the lake and have evolved into a separate recognised species. The lake can freeze over, which happened in the severe winters of 1947 and 1963.
The southern edge of the lake is home the narrow gauge Bala Lake Railway ‘Rheilffordd Llyn Tegid’ which runs to the nearby village of Llanuwchllyn (The Church Above the Lake in English). The narrow-gauge track was laid down in 1972, the first to be laid on an old British Rail track-bed (the same one which ran to the towns of Dolgellau and Barmouth to the west).
Bala Sailing Club is set at the north-east end of Bala Lake giving easy access to the largest & possibly the most picturesque sailing water in Wales. The International Moths described Bala as “The Lake Garda of the North!” Predominantly south-westerly winds provide excellent sailing conditions & the well equipped clubhouse, bespoke training and race control facilities make Bala one of the most popular sailing venues in the UK. See more at balasc.org.uk.
Bala Lake Railway “Rheilffordd Llyn Tegid” offers visitors a beautiful nine-mile return journey beside Bala Lake. The hour-long journey offers stunning views of the lake and Aran mountains (Arenig Fawr, Aran Benllyn and Aran Fawddwy).
The railway currently has four narrow gauge steam locos running; “Alice”, “Holy War”, “Maid Marian” and “Winifred” (all built by the Hunslet Engine Co. of Leeds).
In 1800 a fifteen year old girl, Mary Jones, walked the 25 miles from her home in the small village of Llanfihangel-y-Pennant to buy a bible from the Reverend Thomas Charles in Bala. Bibles were scarce and expensive at the time and she had to save for six years to buy one. This determination was a major factor in the foundation of the British and Foreign Bible Society in 1804.
Learn how one girl’s journey transformed the lives of millions: Interactive displays, videos, exhibits and activities bring her fascinating story to life from 1800 to the present day. This new exhibition is located inside Lanycil Church.
More at bydmaryjonesworld.org.uk