The award-winning Bala Lake Railway is a lovely way to relax and enjoy beautifully scenic views of the Welsh countryside and the railway’s namesake lake as you chug along in a cosy carriage. Known in Welsh as Rheilffordd Llyn Tegid, the railway stretches for 4.5 miles (7.2 kilometres) alongside Bala Lake / Llyn Tegid. In operation since 1972, it certainly makes for a lovely day out.
Settle into your comfortable carriage on one of the Great Little Trains of Wales
Bala Lake Railway is one of the Great Little Trains of Wales, railways that offer fairly slow pleasure trips through beautiful scenery on charming olde-worlde steam trains. As they are all narrow gauge railways, they are all narrower than regular trains, and so also seem rather cuter!
Admire the quaint engines with brightly coloured and highly polished paint and the gleaming brass finishes, and look to see what your train is called. All of the trains that operate on Bala Lake Railway have individual names, with some named after characters from Welsh folklore and myths. Engine names include Maid Marian, Alice, Holy War, and Winifred.
There are also several diesel engines in use on Bala Lake Railway, including Trigger (Bob Davies), Lady Madcap, and Meirionnydd.
Lower the carriage windows on a sunny day and let the breeze sail past your face as you gaze out of the windows on your journey.
Feast your eyes on the sparkling beauty of Bala Lake
The deep and clear Bala Lake was previously the biggest body of water in the whole of Wales; it became smaller when its water level was raised to assist with the flow of water along the Ellesmere Canal.
A glacial lake, it is home to a number of fish species, including trout, roach, perch, pike, and the endangered gwyniad, which is a type of herring that is thought to have been in existence since the Ice Age. Other creatures that live in or around Bala Lake include water snails, eels, and birds such as buzzards and herons.
Steeped in local legend, it is said that there is a drowned city underneath the waters of Bala Lake. Furthermore, some locals say that on clear nights when a full moon is shining you can see the pinnacles, towers, and buildings of the previous home of Ceridwen the witch and her husband, Tegid Foel, in the depths of the lake.
Lap up delightful countryside scenes
As well as picturesque views of Bala Lake, a ride on the railway also provides terrific vistas of the stunning Snowdonia National Park.
Traverse through woods, keeping your eyes peeled for the abundance of local wildlife, and pass by rolling fields filled with Welsh sheep. In the lambing season (usually between February and April) you will likely see cute fluffy lambs gambolling and prancing across the lush green grass, their woolly mums grazing not too far away from their playful offspring.
The train also ambles past traditional villages and local churches, with mountains rising up behind in the distance.
Hop off the train and explore along the way
Bala Lake Railway runs between the village of Llanuwchllyn and the town of Bala, with a regular stop at Llangower village. There is also a request stop at Pentrepiod Halt; if you want to get on or off here, simply signal to the driver and the train will stop as it passes through the station.
Your ticket allows you to leave the train at its different stations and continue your journey later on in the day.
At Llanuwchllyn Station, before starting your ride, you can see a historic signal box and watch as the trains are serviced at the water tower. Wander into the village and see the old church, and pay a visit to nearby Caer Gai, the site of an old Roman fortress and a place that features in the legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.
If you want easy access to the lake’s inviting waters, make sure to break your journey at Llangower. In the village you can enjoy the ancient church.
Stroll into the town of Bala from Bala Station and enjoy the traditional market town’s vibe. Great for shopping, you’ll also find plenty of charming spots to grab a drink and a bite to eat.
Practical information for riding on Bala Lake Railway
Whilst you can catch the train from either end of the line, the train starts and finishes its day at Llanuwchllyn. This means that you will not be able to make a return trip if you catch the last train from Bala Station (train times are available on the website).
A single journey between each end of the line takes around 25 minutes. A return trip from Llanuwchllyn takes one hour. Due to refuelling, a round trip from Bala will take around an hour and a half.
Special events are scheduled throughout the year, including celebrations for Christmas, Easter, and Halloween. Further details can be obtained from the Bala Lake Railway website.
Single tickets cost 7 GBP (approximately 10 USD) for adults and 3.50 GBP (approximately 5 USD) for (unaccompanied) children. Return fares are 10.50 GBP (approximately 15 USD) and 5.50 GBP (approximately 8 USD) for adults and (unaccompanied) children respectively. Various family tickets for return journeys are also available, offering a good way for parents to save money. Dogs are also permitted on the train, for a fee of 1 GBP (approximately 1.40 USD). You can buy tickets online or at the stations.
If you are driving to the station, Llanuwchllyn Station has a large car park. Limited roadside parking is also available at Bala Station, or you can park in the town and walk to the station.
Add a ride on the Bala Lake Railway to your day around Bala Lake for different views of the lovely lake and a fantastic journey through a pretty part of Wales.
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