Walks around Bala in the Welsh Lake District, Snowdonia, Wales
More Walks and information:
- Walking Britain: Walks in Snowdonia including: Arenigs, Arans & Lake Bala
Snowdonia National Park Authority (SNPA): Mountain Walks, including Cader Idris and Snowdon
- Snowdonia National Park Authority: Leisure Walks, including Crig-y-Fron, Precipice Walk and more
- Walking Wales (Visit Wales)
- Walking North Wales
- Walking in North Wales
- Walkers are Welcome scheme
- Countryside Code
- British Mountaineering Council (BMC) provide advice and information:
- Mountain Rescue Advice
- North Wales Mountain Rescue Association
- Mountain weather forecast for Snowdonia
- British Mountaineering Council (BMC) Hill Skills and Hill Walking Essentials
- The Country Code from the CCW
Safety Leaflets available from the Bala TIC, include:
- Stay Safe in Snowdonia (Llanberis Mountain Rescue Team)
- How to enjoy Wales Safely (VisitWales)
- WILL YOU be going home tonight? (Llanberis Mountain Rescue Team)
For the Dee Way see also:
Bala & Penllyn is located in the Welsh Lake District, Snowdonia, Wales - an area ideally situated for walking. There are a wide variety of walks, ranging from short scenic walks to strenuous ones - climbing mountains almost 3,000 feet high. A feature of the area is that walkers can enjoy the mountain experience without the crowds - that are sometimes found in the busier parts of Snowdonia or The Lakes. Bala has achieved "Walkers are Welcome" status and many accommodation provides provide walker friendly accommodation under the VisitWales criteria.
One of the highlights of the area is to walk around Bala Lake (14 miles) using footpaths on the surrounding hills with excellent views - this can be split into two more leisurely walks (8 or 6 miles) using the Bala Lake Railway or local bus service for return transport. The walk covers a variety of land including farmland, moorland, forestry and provides an overview of Penllyn and the adjacent mountain ranges (Aran, Arenig and Berwyn).
If you require a walking guide for the Bala area or in Snowdonia go to Guided Walking. For safety information please use the links at the bottom of this page. Browse the Gallery of walking photos to get an impression of walking around Bala, in the Welsh Lake District, Snowdonia, Wales.
There are several walks directly from Bala including:
- The Town Walk (leaflet available from the Bala TIC)
- Craig y Fron: a walk with industrial history interest including “the caves” which were a former stone quarry
- Starting at the TIC there is a level walk on good surfaces along the side of the lake then the River Dee & Tryweryn
- Around Lake Bala (14 miles) or half-way (8 miles) with return by steam railway or bus
- Moel Emoel (549m) or Moel y Llan (241m) for fantastic views
- Bala and Moel Garnedd
The Bala Lake circuit follows the route of the Bala Challenge, an annual charity walk, a 14 mile walk around the lake using footpaths on the surrounding hills with excellent views. It may be split into two walks (8 or 6 miles) with the possibility of using the steam Bala Lake Railway or local bus service for return transport. SNPA Leisure Network walks around Bala Lake with downloadable sound files:
- Llyn Tegid Northern from Bala to Llanuwchllyn (6 miles)
- Llyn Tegid Southern Llanuwchllyn to Bala (7.5 miles)
There are several walks directly from Llanycil, which is 1 mile from Bala (by footpath along the lake), including:
- A short walk through woods, with bluebells in season, overlooking a mountain stream
- A walk to the summit of Moel y Garnedd with excellent panoramic views and return through the wood
- Llanycil - Llanuwchllyn (6 miles) with return by bus (verbal commentary by MP3 download from SNPA)
There are three local mountain ranges (Arenig, Aran, Berwyn) readily accessible and Cadair Idris and the Rhinogs, are a short drive away. Other parts of Snowdonia are also easily accessible including Snowdon, the Glyders, Tryfan, Carneddau, Cnicht and the Nantlle ridge.
Trail magazine features:
- Three Peaks circuit in Snowdonia (April 2010): which comprises Arenig Fawr, Moel Llyfnant and Arenig Fach. Bala makes an ideal base close to these three peaks and there is many other mountains to climb, including the twin peaks of the Arans.
- Secret Snowdonia (April 2012) an article on the Bala area which features Arenig Fawr and includes Aran Fawddwy. The article states that: the Arenigs get better weather in the east than the main Snowdon ranges in the west.
- Ultimate Weekend - Bala (May 2012): "A lovely lakeside town that's a great place to base yourself for a weekend of Welsh hillwalking" with routes for Aran Fawddwy, Moel y Garnedd and Arenig Fawr.
Mountain ranges around Bala:
- To the south of Bala is the Aran mountain range with 14 summits above 2000 ft (610 m). The Aran ridge covers the principal summits including Aran Fawddwy (2969 ft/905 m) and Aran Benllyn (2904 ft/885 m). The ridge makes an excellent linear walk including both major summits, utilising the local bus service for return transport.
- To the west and south-west of Bala is the Arenig mountain range with 13 summits above 2000 ft (610 m). The Arenig mountain range encompasses several separate mountain areas; the principal mountains groups are:
- Arenig Fawr (854 m) with Moel Llyfnant (751m);
- Arenig Fach (689m) flanked by the Migneint a large moorland area which is a Designated Special Area of Conservation (SAC) ;
- Rhobell Fawr (734m) with Dduallt (662m): two contrasting hills that can be combined into one walk.
- The Arenig area is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). Both Arenig Fawr and Arenig Fach have tarns situated in glaciated corries with steep crags; the south ridge of Arenig Fawr is a pleasant rocky ridge.
- To the east and north-east of Bala is the Berwyn mountain range with 24 summits above 2000 ft (610 m). The western side of the Berwyn mountain range is easily reached from Bala, e.g. starting from Llandrillo or Cynwyd and also from the Bala to Llanygynog road; whereas the eastern side is further away but can be combined with a visit to Wales’s tallest waterfall “Pistyll Rhaeadr” at Tan-y-pistyll The three principle summits can be climbed in one circular walk, including: Cadair Berwyn (2723 m/ft 830 m), Moel Sych (827 m/2710 ft) and Cadair Bronwen (827 m/2710 ft).
All three ranges are covered in the following guidebooks:
- “The Mountains of England & Wales – Volume 1 Wales”, Cicerone, by J&A Nuttall
- "Hillwalking in Wales", Volume 1 Cicerone, by Peter Hermon
The Bala Lake circuit follows the route of the Bala Challenge, an annual charity walk, a 14 mile walk around the lake using footpaths on the surrounding hills with excellent views. It may be split into two walks (8 or 6 miles) with the possibility of using the steam Bala Lake Railway or local bus service for return transport.
The Forestry Commission woods around Bala are open to walkers, but don’t expect sign-posted trails, rather there are paths through woodland and moorland with heather and whinberry in abundance. So if you like to explore and see the wildlife, then try Penllyn Woods, comprising: the Wenallt, Celyn, Aberhirnant, and Penaran woods. There are many other woods which have excellent walks, including:
Nearby the are many opportunities for walking a few highlights follow.
- Mary Jones Walk – The 28-mile walk by a 15-year-old girl, from Llanfihangel-y-Pennant Llanycil (Bala), helped inspire the founding of Bible Society. You don't have to do it barefoot! Download the route description.
- Abergwynant Woods in the Mawddach Valley
- Coed Garth Gell, a RSPB reserve, in the Mawddach Valley
- Coed y Brenin although better know for mountain biking has many excellent walks (Illustrated Guide with Map)
- Precipice Walk is considered to be one of the classic short walks of Snowdonia and is included in the six "Great British Views", by the Rambler's Association (see Walk, winter 2008). Its described as a family-friendly ramble over mostly level ground and provides unrivaled views of the Mawddach estuary and Cader Idris.
- The Mawddach Trail, which runs from Dolgellau to Barmouth, was featured on BBC2 "Railway Walks" with Julia Bradbury. Snowdonia National Park Authority (SNPA) information for the Mawddach Trail.
- A walk to the top of Pistyll Rhaeadr, the tallest waterfall in Wales, near Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant, is one of The Times 50 Best Walks.
- In the Hiraethog area there are several walks. Including waymarked walks around Lake Brenig (10 miles) and Lake Alwen (8 miles) or combine the two (12 or 15 miles).
- Dee Valley Walks: the Dee Valley Way and The North Berwyn Way link the two towns of Corwen and Llangollen following the River Dee and over the Berwyn mountains.
Local Walking Guide Books:
- Maps and Guide Books are available from the Tourist Information Centre (TIC) in Bala
The best local guide is “Walks Around Y Bala & Penllyn” by Dave Berry, published by Kittiwake, it includes 20 circular walks of various lengths (available from shops and the Bala TIC)
- The Dee Way by Dave Berry, published by Kittiwake, The Dee Way follows the river Dee along the Welsh or English sides of its estuary, through the historic city of Chester and the stunning Dee Valley to the river’s source in the mountains of southern Snowdonia. It offers a continuous walk of 142 miles, 23 linear walks linked to public transport, a 57 mile estuary walk and a 14 mile upland circuit of Llyn Tegid (Bala Lake).
- Local Walks around Llangollen & The Dee Valley, by Dave Berry, published by Kittiwake, twenty circular walks suitable for all abilities through excellent scenery, covers the Corwen-Llangollen-Trevor area
- Local Walks around Dolgellau, by Geoff Elliott Published by Kittiwake, fifteen circular walks for all ages and abilities within a 15-minute drive of Dolgellau (Bala to Dolgellau is 30 minutes by car). Precipice and New Precipice walks are highly recommended.
- “Walks in and around the Berwyn Mountains” by John Tranter published by Gwasg Carreg Gwalch; the Berwyn mountains are easily accessible from Bala
- "Walks around the Berwyn Mountains and the Ceiriog Valley" by Dave Berry, published by Kittiwake, 32 walks around the Berwyn Mountains
- "Walks in the Hidden Heart of North Wales" by Dave Berry, published by Kittiwake, 20 walks in the Hiraethog area (Brenig & Alwen lakes) a short drive from Bala
Safety statement from the British Mountaineering Council (BMC): The BMC recognises that climbing, hill walking and mountaineering are activities with a danger of personal injury or death. Participants in these activities should be aware of and accept these risks and be responsible for their own actions. Also see safety information using links on the right.
Information provided by Ray Hind (Mountain Guide)