A small town in the ‘lake district’ of southern Snowdonia that’s a big outdoor centre, famous internationally for events like white-water canoeing, swimming, cycling and triathlons. But you don’t need to be an ironman to appreciate Bala. Its outdoors scene has a broad appeal, with a good choice of gentle as well as adventurous activities. Much of the action is centred on 4½-mile-long Llyn Tegid. Nearby River Tryweryn is another major aquatic asset, providing reliable white water, even during the summer when many rivers are low.
Bala is one of the few Welsh towns with ‘Walkers are Welcome’ accreditation (www.walkersarewelcome.org.uk). Paths include heritage and town trails and a walk around the lake (you can also ride along its southern shore on the narrow-gauge Bala Lake Railway). There’s great cycling too, with waymarked bike routes. Bala is steeped in Welsh culture and history – the Mary Jones World at nearby Llanycil tells the inspirational story of 15-year-old Mary Jones who walked 26 miles across the mountains to Bala in 1800 to collect a Welsh Bible from the religious leader Rev Thomas Charles. Such links continue: the activity centre for the Urdd Welsh League of Youth is located at nearby Glan-llyn (where family groups can also stay).