If you ask any stand up paddle boarder if they want to go to Wales for a lake-based paddle, what’s the place that’s almost certainly top of the list? Llyn Tegid, or Bala Lake to give it its common name. At 6KM long and 0.8KM wide, It’s the longest (paddlable) lake in Wales. home to the “Race the Train” SUP/Kayak event in April and traditional starting point for the three lakes challenge.
However, mention nearby Lake Vyrnwy and you might have either a blank look staring back at you, or from those in the know a look reminiscent of someone who’s just found a twenty pound note in an old pair of jeans.
So, one calm warm sunny day in April 10 SUPers, one kayaker and SupSchnauzer met up in mid Wales to explore this new to us location.
Lake Vyrnwy is only a stones throw from Bala on a map yet they feel worlds apart in both appearance and surroundings. Upon approach, the lake is hidden, surrounded by tall, straight trees, which at the last minute reveal the huge 37 meter high stone overflow dam. Driving across this reveals a genuinely breathtaking preview of what is to come. A right turn and a couple of minutes further from the dam finds Bethania Adventure Boathouse, a cabin which looks like it’s been lifted straight from the USA and dropped at the lakeside.
After a safety briefing of hazards and where access is/isn’t permitted our group launched and did an anti-clockwise lap. We headed in the direction of the dam, taking note to not get too close and then headed parallel to it until we reached a small bridge at the other side. Through this we explored a beautifully peaceful small river inlet, unfortunately we weren’t able to paddle far as it quickly became overgrown.
Continuing our lap we quickly reached what most people would notice first on a Google image search of Lake Vyrnwy. The imposing straining tower rising 32 meters above the water level like some kind of fairytale backdrop. In this setting with its tall conical roof and gothic revival style it feels like you have been transported to another place. It’s the perfect photo opportunity that you want to capture from every angle and I’m sure it featured rather heavily in everyone’s social media from the day. When you see it up close rather than on a website, you can understand the need to document it and marvel at it’s beauty and the engineering behind it.
After marvelling at the tower from afar and closer up we continued on to a picnic stop, for a short stop before crossing back over the lake towards a small bridge in the distance. On approach we could make out a waterfall cascading into the lake beyond the bridge that we could get right up close to. Another fabulous photo opportunity and a rare chance to be up close and personal with nature from the water rather than simply looking from the road above. Waterfall admiring complete we headed back out onto the lake and paddled back to where we started at the Boathouse with 5 miles under our belts and ready for some refreshments. Then some of us enjoyed it so much we did it all again in reverse!
So when people ask about paddling spots in Wales Lake Vyrnwy is definitely going to be top of the recommended list, for now at least as there are plenty more places still to explore……..