Water everywhere: a whistlestop tour of Snowdonia’s lakes

There’s more to Snowdonia than mountains. As well as sweeping swathes of greenery, amazing wildlife and lots of fascinating towns and villages, Snowdonia is home to some spectacular lakes. Whether you fancy a leisurely stroll to soak up the views and get some fresh air, or perhaps prefer an adrenaline-fuelled water-sports session, there’s plenty of choice.

While Cumbria’s Lake District is well-known and very popular with visitors, you’ll find that Wales’s lakes are more serene, peaceful and tranquil.

Packed with history, interest and an abundance of natural beauty, Snowdonia’s lakes are sure to be a highlight of your visit here. Below, we’ve profiled some our favourite shimmering, sparkling lakes, and we hope you’ll be inspired to visit.

Llyn Padarn

For views, there aren’t many places that can beat Llyn Padarn. Glacially-formed, the lake sits just outside Llanberis on the edge of Snowdonia National Park but, even better, it’s just five minutes walk from our hotel.

History buffs will find plenty to delight in here; the 13th century Dolbadarn Castle occupies a proud position looking over the lake and offers an amazing trip back in time, while the lake itself is still home to the Arctic Char – a rare fish found only in deep, cold, glacial lakes. Luckily for the Arctic Char, Llyn Padarn is one of the UK’s most cavernous lakes, and is the sixth deepest in Wales.

The circular walking route around the lake is another excellent way to immerse yourself in local history, while taking in some spectacular vistas, too. Attractions nearby include the Llanberis Lake Railway, the superb National Slate Museum and the Electric Mountain visitor centre at Dinorwig Power Station.

Llyn Geirionydd

For those after a (motorised) thrill, Llyn Geirionydd is the place to go; the mile-long lake is the only one in Snowdonia to allow water skiing and power boating. But for those looking for something a little more laidback there’s plenty to do here too.

Drive up to the lake and park nearby – and the picnic area is conveniently close, perfect for hauling your feast to and fro! Llyn Geirionydd is located in the beautiful Gwydir Forest, and is well placed for combining a stroll or boating trip with a visit to some of Snowdonia’s other gems. Pop to nearby Trefriw and visit the historic Woollen Mill, which is powered by water from Geirionydd!

Llyn Dinas

When it comes to formidable history, you don’t get much more prestigious than being associated with the legends of King Arthur. Llyn Dinas and nearby Dinas Emrys are steeped in lore, and make for a superb day-trip. Supposedly, beneath the shimmering surface of the lake lies the Throne of Britain, and Merlin’s treasure is also said to be hidden somewhere close by.

In more recent times, Llyn Dinas has starred on the big screen; the lake was used as a filming location for the 1958 Ingrid Bergman film The Inn of the Sixth Happiness. As well as excellent fishing, there’s great walking to be enjoyed here; the National Trust and Snowdonia National Park Authority have opened a new footpath here that offers great views out over the lake.

Llyn Cau

One for adventure seekers, Llyn Cau demands its visitors earn the right to glimpse its sparkling surface. Situated in a crater on Cadair Idris, the second most popular mountain in Wales, the climb up here can be challenging, but the views are more than worth it.

‘Cadair Idris’ means ‘the chair of Idris’, and in Welsh folklore is said to refer to the fact that Idris the Giant used the mountain like an armchair while he was stargazing! The mountain features in many legends, and Llyn Cau itself is supposed to be an unfathomable, bottomless mystery! For those brave enough to enter its depths, wild swims here are sensational.

Llyn Tegid

The area around Bala and Penllyn is often described as the ‘Welsh Lake District’. Here you’ll find Wales’s biggest natural lake, which offers myriad activities and pastimes.

Water-sports are excellent here, and you can also tour the water’s edge on the Bala Lake Railway. Legend has it that Wales’s answer to the Loch Ness Monster calls Llyn Tegid its home, and attempts have been made by mystery hunters around the world to spot the mysterious beast. Should you not catch a glimpse of ‘Teggie’, you might have more luck spotting a Gwyniad; this fish might not be quite as fantastical as a huge submarine monster, but it is native to this lake, making it very special indeed.

With a superb location in Llanberis, the Royal Victoria Hotel is perfectly placed for exploring these and many more of Snowdonia’s stunning lakes. Browse our room types here to start booking your North Wales adventure.

Images courtesy: Llyn Padarn by Tori Smith, 2018. Llyn Tegid, by deepeye via Wikimedia Commons​. Llyn Cau from the rim at Craig Cau by Colin Park. Llyn Geirionydd by Stuart Madden, 2013 via Flickr. Llyn Dinas © Copyright Tony Edwards and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.​