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Pocket Guide: Bala

Bala is a tiny market town in Gwynedd, Wales. The town lies at the northern end of the famous Bala Lake, the largest lake in Wales, and is part of the Welsh Lake District in Snowdonia.

Sport in Bala

No self-respecting Welsh town would be without a rugby team, and Bala’s is Bala RFC, a member of the Welsh Rugby Union and a feeder club for the Llanelli Scarlets, who play at the Maes Gwyniad ground. The town also has a football team, Bala Town FC, who play in the Welsh Premier League at the Maes Tegid Stadium.

Shopping in Bala

The main street in Bala is Y Stryd Fawr, or the High Street, which is where most of the shops are, and where the markets were originally held. Almost all of the shops in the town are independent traders, selling everything from fresh meat and local produce to clothes, hardware, electrical goods, fishing supplies, cards and gifts, confectionery, arts and crafts, and more.

Food and Drink in Bala

For such a small town, Bala offers plenty of choice when it comes to places to eat and drink. From upmarket restaurants to traditional inns and lakeside cafes, you are sure to find something to excite your taste buds, whether you want to try traditional Welsh dishes, fish and chips, or contemporary cuisine made from fresh local produce.

Things to See and Do In and Around Bala

There are plenty of leisure activities available in Bala and its surroundings. The area is particularly good for walking, with many trails at levels of difficulty to suit everyone from the most casual walker to the most experienced. Other available activities include white-water rafting, kayaking, sailing, fishing, cycling, mountain biking, golf, bowling, go-karting, and off-road driving. The River Tryweryn is world famous for white-water rafting and Bala is home to the National White Water Centre.

There are many nature reserves and woodlands around Bala. Bala Lake is a Ramsar wetlands site of international importance, Penllyn Woods is an area of woodland and moorland around Bala, and Aberhirnant Forest and Penaran Forest can be found to the east and west of Bala respectively. The Migneint-Arenig-Dduallt Special Area of Conservation is an area of mountains and moorland to the west and north-west of Bala, while the Berwyn Mountains, which lie to the east and north-east of Bala, include both a National Nature Reserve and a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Lastly, the Cors y Sarnau Nature Reserve, to the north-east of Bala, is an important wetlands habitat.

The Bala Lake Railway is a narrow gauge steam railway that offers a nine-mile return journey alongside Bala Lake through the beautiful scenery of Snowdonia National Park.

Tomen y Bala is an 11th Century Norman earthworks mound or motte, while a similar mound at Pen-y-Bont is the remains of a 13th century motte and bailey castle. Castell Carndochan is a ruined Welsh medieval castle sitting on a rocky crag that can only be visited by a strenuous walk.