•   Follow the Town Trail - experience Bala's rich heritage
  •   Coleg y Bala - on the Town Trail
  •   Tomen y Bala and the Gorsedd Circle
  •   Christ Church, Bala
  •   Mary Jones WorldVisitor Centre

About the Area - History and Culture


Situated on the north-east shore of Bala Lake (Llyn Tegid) is the unique market town of Bala. Surrounded by the Aran, Arenig and Berwyn mountains this little town in the heart of the National Park is a stronghold of the Welsh language and Welsh culture.

An historical town
The extent of history connected with this town unfolds as you stroll through its high street. Here you will come across a wealth of historical features – from monuments, chapels and churches to an old workhouse, and the old Theological College sitting proudly on the hilltop. There are also some Norman remains – Tomen y Bala (a Norman motte) which provides excellent panoramic views of the town.

Famous characters
There are many famous individuals connected with the town. It was home to the Rev. Thomas Charles, an important leader in the Methodist revival. It was he who sold a copy of the Bible to Mari Jones in 1800 after her 25 mile long barefoot trek from Llanfihangel y Pennant to Bala, to puchase a Bible, this led to the formation of the Bible Society.

On the north eastern end of the high street stands a monument to commemorate Thomas Ellis, a Liberal Member of Parliament for Meirionnydd. It was here in Bala that he delivered his famous speech calling for a Welsh Parliament. These are only some of the famous characters – more information is provided on this website “History of Bala” and also the Snowdonia National Park Authority (SNPA) website  for more details of Bala’s claim to fame.

Bala lake - a first class watersports venue
At 3½ miles long, ¾ mile wide and up to 140 feet deep, Bala Lake is the largest natural lake in Wales. Gusting south westerly winds through the valley makes it a perfect spot for all kinds of watersports, from sailing and windsurfing to fishing. It has 14 species of fish, including the Gwyniad (Coregonus lavaretus), a species of whitefish which is unique to Bala Lake (fishing for the Gwyniad is not permitted). Bala Lake is owned and managed by the Snowdonia National Park Authority as a recreational resource. The Authority also conserves the lake and its special biodiversity. For more detailed information about Bala Lake visit the SNPA website.

On foot or by train
Bala Lake is surrounded by a web of public footpaths which offer magnificent views of the lake and mountains. If walking doesn’t appeal to you – you can enjoy the spectacular views on a train journey along the southern shore of the lake from Bala to Llanuwchllyn.

Welsh legends
Snowdonia has a wealth of legends, some of which are connected to the Bala area. One of the most prominent is the legend of Tegid Foel, which tells the story of how Bala Lake was formed.

A very long time ago, there was a beautiful valley in the spot where Bala Lake lies today, and on the bottom of that valley stood the old town of Bala. Tegid Foel, a mean prince who was very cruel to his tenants lived in a palace in the town. Despite numerous warnings that vengeance would come for his cruelty, he didn’t mend his ways.

On the arrival of Tegid Foel’s first grandson a grand feast was held at the palace to mark the occasion, and all of the princes’ acquaintances, equally as cruel as he was, were invited. Food and drink were in abundance and the best harpist in the country was employed to entertain them. During the feast, the harpist heard a voice saying “Vengeance will come!”. He looked over his shoulder and saw a little bird by his side. The little bird lured the harpist out of the palace and up to the hills where he fell asleep. The harpist awoke the next morning to find that the old town of Bala had been drowned, and as he approached the shore he saw his harp floating on the water. The lake was named Llyn Tegid after the cruel prince and it is said that sometimes, the remains of the old town of Bala can still be seen in the lake today…
 


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