Mountainous terra firma and thrilling whitewater adventures are in the cards when camping near lakeside Bala.
A Snowdonia town at the head of a lovely lake and at the foot of some impressive summits, Bala has long enticed adventurers. Outdoor activities are different to those on offer in many North Wales locales: while hiking is outstanding, with trails like the Glyndŵr's Way and Cross-Britain Way trundling through, the National Whitewater Centre sits near town with perhaps the UK’s best rafting and kayaking on natural rapids. Further watersports like yachting are also big on Bala’s lakeside. Bala’s campsites are mostly scattered around Llyn Tegid (Bala Lake), though Ty Isaf, two miles east of Bala on the B4391 road, has the closest pitching.
Llyn Tegid is Wales’ largest natural lake, running from Bala at the northeast end southwest to Pentre-Piod at the other. With a prominent place in Welsh mythology as home to drowned kingdoms and monsters, it’s renowned for its watersports, with yachting, kayaking and fishing all popular. The southeast side is best for walking, cycling and the lakeside narrow-gauge railway. Several sites offer camping and caravanning beside the lake: try Pant yr Onen, on the southeast shore.
The churning waters of the Tryweryn river northwest of Bala on the way to Llyn Celyn are famed for their whitewater rafting: the National Whitewater Centre is here. Tyn Cornel Camping, close to the centre and right on the river, is an excellent spot to base yourself for rafting, kayaking and wild swimming on the river: it offers traditional camping and glamping in lotus belle tents, pods and a geodome.
South of Bala and just outside Snowdonia National Park boundary, the Dyfnant Forest area, with Lake Vyrnwy to its north, is still right in the middle of some stunning wild countryside, alternating between big spreads of conifer and steep, stark hills. Hiking is top-drawer, with the Glyndŵr's Way long-distance path bisecting Dyfnant Forest. It happens to have a remarkably high concentration of campsites, too, both traditional tent camping and glamping in pre-pitched safari tents.
In Snowdonia’s extreme, emerald-hued south, the switch from jagged, dramatic mountainside down into lower, greener Mid Wales hills is astonishingly beautiful—and amenity-rich village Dinas Mawddwy looks out on the scene. Hiking and biking are excellent, particularly from the vertiginous back road to Dinas Mawddwy from Llanuwchllyn near Llyn Tegid. A good campsite hereabouts is Celyn Brithion, between Dinas Mawddwy and Mallwyd.
Bala’s hill-surrounded location means that fickle weather should be expected at all times. It can be cool (or downright cold) and wet even in the height of summer. A visit between April and September is best for maximising chances of decent weather and finding all tourist facilities open, and July is generally the warmest month. The whitewater rafting is in full flow between March and October.