Bala Lake is one of Wales’s largest natural lakes. A great area to explore and what a better way to see it than by a small steam train.
Snowdonia is full of mountains, however, the avid anti-mountain lover can still find plenty of places to explore. There is a range of lakes, reservoirs and rivers scattered amongst the large mountainous terrain. These waterscapes can offer a great range of hikes that are not all on a steep vertical climb. Also, they can be a hive of various activities for everyone, including those who don’t fancy a hike. While spending a long rather wet weekend in Snowdonia I headed off in search of Bala Lake and its railway.
If you are looking for something more adventurous have a read of my recent post; Zip World Titan – Experience Adventure
Rheilffordd Llyn Tegid
Joe is a fan of engines, cars, trains and bits like that so he was very happy to spend the afternoon enjoying the small steam railway that runs along the side of the lake. I too quite enjoy the idea of a train ride to admire the views. It’s a great way to see such beautiful areas without having to walk for hours. It makes a nice change after the many hikes that we have been on over the last few months!
It was around a 40-minute drive from our campsite and after navigating the van down some of the narrow Welsh lanes we found the small station at the town of Llanuwchllyn (Please don’t ask me how to pronounce it….). The station itself has been kept with its old-fashioned feel. The main building has the ticket office in it as well as a small gift shop and café. Perfect for a cuppa tea while watching the small steam engines pull in and out of the station. A return ticket for an adult is £11 or £7 for a single if you fancy a hike back to the start.
Now the journey itself is 9miles long and stretches along the southern shoreline of Bala Lake. There is a stop around halfway along the route where you can get off and enjoy a small area of shoreline. You could see many families enjoying this section of shoreline. Even a brave few kids heading in for a swim. On our way down towards the town of Bala, the skies were rather dull but you could still spot the sailboats and kayakers as they enjoyed the still waters.
Bala Lake has many water sports activities available for you to try. Placed on the northern shoreline looked like the Bala watersport centre, who offer the chance to canoe, kayak, windsurf, sail and even windsurf on the lake. We then moved slightly in from the water’s edge where the trees canopied over the rail line. Here we ran into a slight problem. The train decided to stop and have a problem with itself. Within 5 minutes we were up and chugging along the rail line again.
Pulling into the tiny station at Bala, which consists of a small ticket office, a few benches and a couple of sheep watching the visitors arrive. It was a peaceful rural train station. Disembarking from the train, there was only an hour before the last train back to Llanuwchllyn so I didn’t have long to explore the surrounding lake. Passing the old red double-decker bus we followed the footpath down to the end of the lake.
As soon as you step away from the road and onto the paths you instantly are surrounded by long grasses with flowers in. Watching the still waters just bob up and down slightly as a kayaker glides past. Finding a quiet section to sit down, you could see many in the water as well as a parking section with many people sitting outside their cars having a picnic.
The Return Journey
After a very quick paddle to test the waters. That were actually perfect swimming temperatures that day! It was time to head back to the station and await the arrival of the little steam engine. The sun had started to make a break through the clouds and lit up Bala Lake as we headed back. This made my photographs have a lighter edge to them allowing me to capture the beauty of the lake more. Sitting towards the front of the train this time, you could hear all the engine running. Joe was like a kid at Christmas!
Pulling into the station, we took a bit more time to look at the station building before heading off back to the campsite. Awaiting us was an evening meal of sausage sandwiches, a staple camping recipe.
Have you been on a Small Steam Railway before? If so what was your favourite aspect of it?
Mine has to be the way it can show you places from a different perspective, an opportunity to take yet more photographs!
See you next time and happy adventuring!
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