Local Information and Cultural Aspects
Bala Lake, or Llyn Tegid, is over four miles long and a mile wide at it’s widest point, making it the largest natural lake in Wales. It is an important home for the rare ‘gwyniad’ fish – a species that became trapped in the lake at the end of the last Ice Age some 10,000 years ago. It is a member of the whitefish family, and is only found in Llyn Tegid. The lake takes its name from Tegid Foel, a character in the Mabinogi, the collection of early native Welsh tales, in which he is the husband of Ceridwenthe enchantress. Afon Tryweryn which is fed by Llyn Celyn that runs through Bala is world renowned as a white water rafting and kayaking river. Leading canoe organisations hold national and international events there every year and the National Whitewater Centre has its home at ‘Canolfan Tryweryn’ in Bala. In addition to this Bala is equally well equiped for guided walks, cycle rides and motorsports.
The area remains a stronghold for the Welsh language with 80.1% of Bala's population able to speak Welsh fluently, with the highest percentage in the 5-9 age group, 95.7%. There is a population of 1,980 (2001 census).
Bala is home to one of Urdd Gobaith Cymru (the Welsh Youth Movement’s) main residential camps. Situated on the edge of Llyn Tegid, it welcomes thousands of Welsh children and young people each year for courses where they can enjoy a host of water and outdoor activities while practicing and developing their use of the Welsh language. The town hosted the National Eisteddfod in 1967 and 1997, and it is hosting it again in August of 2009.
Bala is where the women's movement 'Merched y Wawr' began and where the very first sheepdog trials were held. Bala is great for Christmas late night shopping with traditional live music, brass band, choirs and crafts - usually held on the first Thursday of December. (Have a look at the Calendar.) The local shops open their doors to welcome their customers with a glass of good cheer and some great shopping. The local culture is also reflected in the many agricultural, horticultural, concerts, shows and eisteddfodau and folk festivals that are held throughout the year.
Books related to Bala & Penllyn
'The Scrum that Changed my Life', the autobiography of the popular Bala, North Wales rugby player Brian 'Yogi' Davies. The emotional story of paralysed rugby player published after he finally loses the battle for life. On the 21st of April 2007, Bryan 'Yogi' Davies was playing in the front row for Bala against Nant Conwy. He was 49 years old and made captain for the day, as it was his last game for the town. Five minutes into the game the first scrum collapsed, leaving him with life-changing injuries: a broken neck and damaged lungs. Published in Welsh and English by Y Lofa.
Not Quite White a novel by Simon Thirsk, of Bala, tells the story of a young Westminster man who's sent to a distant valley in Wales which has become the last stronghold of the Welsh language. A satirical view of how Welsh language and identity is threatened by the English incomers Wales needs in order to survive economically. Published by Gomer in 2010.
"On Tempestuous Seas...........Rowing two Oceans" by Elin Haf Davies of Parc. Welsh farm girl Elin Haf Davies likes challenges in every aspect of her professional and personal life. For someone who had never rowed before, the race to row across the Atlantic Ocean was certainly a challenge! This seventy-seven day experience left nurse Elin inexplicably attached to the ocean - so much so that she later decided to cross the Indian Ocean with three other women. Available from Gwasg Careg Gwalch.
The Reporter's Tale, by Tom Davies, a trade paperback of 450 pages, is published and distributed by Berwyn Mountain Press which is based at Tan Yr Hall, 58 High Street, Bala. The Reporter's Tale is a global adventure story about the life of Tom Davies which begins when he is a young teacher with Voluntary Service Overseas in North Malaya and a book he is writing, full of perverted sex and violence, blows up on him and he sees visions of a world under attack by artists such as himself.
Fron-Goch and the Birth of the IRA by Lyn Ebenezer. An account of the Fron-goch internment camp which was used to house almost 2,000 Irish republicans from 1916 onwards, told from both a Welsh and Irish perspective. Contains 32 pages of black-and-white photographs, some of which are published for the first time. Available from Gwasg Careg Gwalch.