Wild swimming in north Wales

Wild swimming in north Wales has become rather popular of late. More and more people are getting back into nature as a way of bridging modern life with a commune of nature. It requires very little kit, namely a beach towel, shorts and some courage but that’s about it. North Wales has many wild swimming locations that I like to explore, most I have yet to check out, but its an ongoing project. 

The idea of wild swimming is simple, there are no rules other than connect with the environment in a healthy and green way, no chlorine, no chemicals, no warm temperatures, cold and clean just as nature intended it for us. The upsides to all this? Health, happiness and endorphins (lots of them). I’ve been mostly wild swimming on Anglesey last year, but lately I’ve been exploring the lakes in Snowdonia. (see the blog on Wild swimming in the lakes of Snowdonia)

Wild swimming has really taken off in the past few years, with more and more people overworked, super busy and spinning so many plates in life they have been drawn back to the good life in search of a better connection and meaning in a crazy world. Of course it doesn’t have to be a crazy world. When you simplify things, cut back on your posetion’s and take the simple things and the free things in life as more important, everything comes back into balance. 

This is how my life has been evolving over the past three to five years. I have been spending way more time in the outdoors, getting rid of a fair amount of my things and getting way more connected with nature. I spend a lot of time on the blog and a PC plus days jobs so to balance life, like most of you all probably, so I schedule time in the outdoors to balance it all out.

Wild swimming has been a part of that outdoor life for the past 18 months say, and it has had a huge effect on me both physically and mentally. Everywhere I go right now I carry a towel and shorts just in case I can sneak a wild swim in somewhere random in the hills, where I’m working or elsewhere. Like exercise, I try to make it part of my routine. This summer I’m looking to tick off a swim in most of the lakes in Snowdonia as a bit of a goal list. 

With wild swimming in north Wales, you are not just limited to the lakes though, you are surrounded by the ocean on all sides of Anglesey and most of all places in north wales are only ever one hour away from the sea in either direction. So you are spoilt for choice, choose the mountains or the sea, its your call?! Some days I head down to the foreshore at Trearddur bay and get a quick dip in there, some days I head off further a field to get a dip in. 

In winter I find with the lack of sunshine can create a bit of a drop in mood, especially if I’m in an office or working on my PC here with synthetic lighting. So one of the best hacks in terms of your physiology to raise your mood, is to change your state– this comes from one of the best psychologists on the planet (Tony Robbins) who has always said “that to hack our mood and to change our state, we must change our physiology”

What he is saying is that we must shock our bodies in some way by moving- Exercise and Cold water immersion are the best tactic’s for “bio hacking”, as they call it. So with that said I go for a run and sometimes head straight into the sea. It acts as a dopamine and endorphin cocktail that normally leaves me pretty wired in a positive way for the remainder of the day. Other hacks I use are yoga, meditation and the most underrated practice on this planet… Gratitude. More of that in the future alternative blog topics though!

There are a number of other health benefits for cold water swimming also. Since last year I have been practicing some cold water immersion to reduce inflammation in my body from old injuries and well just enjoy some light swimming not in chlorinated toxic swimming baths. I don’t know if any of you get my drift there but the chemicals used in swimming pools are not good for human health in many ways at all, that said there are alternatives that nature provides for free all year round if you are willing to see past the temperatures..

My journey with cold water immersion started a s more of a bet, for 30 days straight I went into the sea in winter after seeing a couple on a twitter channel @vitaminseafilm and watching how they would get in the water no matter what time of year and get back connected with the wilds of nature and immersed in the beautiful element that is our sea water. 

They talked of the health benefits both mentally and physically for their bodies and how it impacted their lives. I loved the sound of it so I jumped right in- literally. Ever since then I have been kind of addicted to the feeling of going past your comfort zones and making sure I take good care of my body.

Cold water is very very good for inflammation and swelling and vast amounts of society have large inflammation problems in the bodies as a whole. Inflame is latin for on fire. When swelling occurs as part of an injury or over exercise or ill health internally in the body it can cause pain and reduction of movement plus lack of mobility. 

Drugs don’t work, I don’t care how many of you protest at this statement, the evidence is now out that taking the pain away with “ anti- inflammatory “ is only a short term solution and will lead to damage on the liver eventually. So what are the alternatives  hear you say? Cold water. It activates your immune system, strengthens it by causing stress in the body. Some stress in the body is good, as it promotes healing by gentle activation of the immune system. This healing will reduce inflammation and increase mental well being ten fold. I can attest to that. 

After your cold water immersion you will be lifted into a dizzie state of fits and giggles as you re emerge from the cold depths and feel a different person for the rest of the day. Note. Prescription is once daily for thirty days.. join me for the 30 challenge!

So I thought I would compile a quick list of all the small and large lakes in Snowdonia you can take a dip in. Note – I don’t swim in these lakes personally just bathe and get used to the cold water.

Conwy Valley

Llyn Crafnant

lake is three quarters of a mile long and lies in a beautiful valley where the northern edge of Gwydir Forest meets the lower slopes of the Carneddau mountains.

At the head of Llyn Crafnant is one of the finest views in north Wales, across the lake to the mountains above.

(National resources Wales)

Llyn Craftnant- Image by : Walesdirectory

Llyn Geirionnedd

Llyn Geirionnydd lake is three quarters of a mile long lake. It was reputedly the home of the 6th century poet Taliesin.

In the 1870s, this was a derelict industrial landscape – in fact, the car park lies on a waste tip near an old lead mine entrance.

This is the only lake in the Snowdonia National Park where power boats and water skiing is permitted. (National resources Wales)

Llyn Geirionnydd- Image by : wikipedia

Llyn Coedty

LLyn Coedty is a reservoir in Snowdonia, North Wales. It is fed by the waters of Afon Porth-llwyd which flows from Llyn Eigiau. The reservoir lies at a height of 900 feet (274 m), and measures some 12 acres (49,000 m2) in size. It contains brown trout.

The original dam was built in 1924 to provide hydro-electric power to the aluminium smelting works in Dolgarrog. (Wikipedia )

Llyn Coedty- Image by : Wikipedia

Llyn Dylun

Llyn Dylun (Welsh: Black lake) is a lake on the edge of the Carneddau range of mountains in Snowdonia, North Wales.

The lake covers an area of only 33 acres (130,000 m2), yet is extremely deep – it reaches to a depth of 189 feet (58 metres). Less than a kilometre to its south lies the smaller Llyn Melynllyn.

Cliffs rise steeply from the lake edge up to the summits of Garnedd Uchaf and Foel Grach, giving it a dark brooding appearance – hence its name. (Wikipedia)

Llyn Dylun- Image by : Nature flip

Llyn Eigiau

Llyn Eigiau is a lake on the edge of the Carneddau range of mountains in Snowdonia, Conwy, Wales. The name Eigiau is thought to refer to the shoals of fish which once lived here. Early maps refer to it as Llynyga. It is thought that a small number of Arctic char exist in the lake (as they do in neighbouring Llyn Cowlyd) after they were transferred here from Llyn Peris, and certainly it is one of the few lakes in Wales to have its own natural brown trout. (Wikipedia)

Llyn Eigiau : Image by Wikipedia

Llyn Cowlyd

Llyn Cowlyd is the deepest lake in northern Wales. It lies in the Snowdonia National Park at the upper end of Cwm Cowlyd on the south-eastern edge of the Carneddau range of mountains, at a height of 1,164 feet (355 m) above sea level. The lake is long and narrow, measuring nearly 2 miles (3 km) long and about a third of a mile (500 m) wide, and covers an area of 269 acres (1.1 km2). It has a mean depth of 109 feet (33 m) and at its deepest has given soundings of 229 feet (70 m), this being some 45 ft (14 m) greater than its natural depth, the water surface having been raised twice by the building of dams

Llyn Cowlyd : Image by Wikipedia

Llyn Melynllyn

Llyn Melynllyn (Welsh for yellow lake) is a lake on the edge of the Carneddau range of mountains in Snowdonia, North Wales.

It lies at a height of just over 2,000 feet (610 m), and has an area of some 18.5 acres (75,000 m2).

Cliffs rise steeply from its western edge, up to the summit of Foel Grach, and down from which most of its feeder streams flow.

A small dam was built at its northern end in 1887, but this was deliberately breached in 1970. The lake acts as a reservoir for the Llandudno area.

Less than a kilometre to its north lies the larger Llyn Dulyn.

The outflow form the lake is called Afon Melynllyn, this stream flowing north-east to join Afon Dulyn, itself a tributary of the river Conwy. (Wikipedia)

Llyn Melynllyn : Image by Wikipedia

Nant Ffrancon / Ogwen Valley

Llyn Ogwen

Llyn Ogwen is a ribbon lake in north-west Wales. It lies alongside the A5 road between two mountain ranges of Snowdonia, the Carneddau and the Glyderau. Somewhat unusually, the county boundary at this point is drawn so that the lake itself lies in the county of Gwynedd, but all the surrounding land (excluding the outflow) lies in Conwy County Borough.

Llyn Ogwen lies at a height of about 310 metres above sea level and has an area of 78 acres (320,000 m2), but is a very shallow lake, with a maximum depth of only a little over 3 metres. It is fed by a number of streams from the slopes of the mountains which surround it, which include Tryfan and Pen yr Ole Wen. The largest of these streams is Afon Lloer, which flows from Ffynnon Lloer. 

It is said that after the Battle of Camlann (King Arthur’s final battle), Sir Bedivere (Bedwyr) cast the sword Excalibur into Llyn Ogwen, where it was caught by the Lady of the Lake. Tryfan is said to be Sir Bedivere’s final resting-place. According to the writer Jonah Jones: (Wikipedia)

Llyn Ogwen : Image by Trover

Llyn Idwal

Llyn Idwal is a small lake (approximately 800 m by 300 m, or 28 acres) that lies within Cwm Idwal in the Glyderaumountains of Snowdonia.

It is named after Prince Idwal Foel, a grandson of Rhodri Mawr, one of the ancient Kings of Wales. 

A number of small streams flow into Llyn Idwal from around Cwm Idwal. One small river flows out and joins the Afon Ogwen river at Pont Pen-y-Benglog near Ogwen Cottage, immediately above the Rhaeadr Ogwen waterfall. (Wikipedia)

Llyn Idwal : Image by Trover

Llyn bolchwydd

Llyn Bochlwyd (Welsh pronunciation: is a lake in Snowdonia, Wales, in Conwy County Borough. It lies in Cwm Bochlwyd, near Llyn Ogwen in the Glyderau mountain range.

The Welsh name of the lake means “Greycheek Lake”. According to a local legend, this is based on a story of an old grey stag that was hunted but miraculously escaped through swimming to safety in the lake while holding its grey cheeks above the surface. (Wikipedia)

Llyn Bolchwydd : Image by Walking Britain

Nant Peris / Llanberis Pass

  Llyn Padarn

Llyn Padarn is a glacially formed lake in Snowdonia, Gwynedd, north Wales, and is an example of a moraine dammed lake. The lake is approximately 2 miles (3.2 km) long (about 240 acres) and at its deepest point is 94 feet (29 m) deep, and is one of the largest natural lakes in Wales. At its south-eastern end it is linked to the neighbouring Llyn Peris (which forms the lower reservoir of the Dinorwig power station). The busy village of Llanberis lies on the southern banks of the lake.

The majority of Llyn Padarn is owned by Gwynedd Council and is part of Padarn Country Park. Whilst kayaking, rowing and sailing are permitted on the lake, powered craft require permission to use it. Bangor University Rowing Club row at Llyn Padarn. 

In April 2014 Llyn Padarn was designated as Bathing Water under the Bathing Water Directive (2006/7/EC).

The outflow of Llyn Padarn is on the northern shore and is called Afon Rhythallt, which passes by the village of Brynrefail, Gwynedd and becomes Afon Seiont below Pont Rhythallt, near Llanrug. It reaches the sea at Caernarfon.

Padarn Country Park is located on the northern flank of the lake, including Coed Allt Wen, a rare and ancient sessile oak woodland. Both the woodland and Llyn Padarn are designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest.

The Llanberis Lake Railway also runs along its eastern bank and various recreational activities take place on the lake, especially during the summer. These include canoeing, boating and fishing. The lake was the venue for the rowing events of the 1958 British Empire and Commonwealth Games. (Wikipedia)

Llyn Padarn- Image by : Wikipedia

Llyn Peris 

Llyn Peris is a lake in Snowdonia, Wales, approximately 1.8 km long and situated close to the villages of Llanberis and Nant Peris, and the smaller twin of Llyn Padarn. The lake was formed glacially and is an example of a moraine-dammed lake. Llyn Peris is named after Saint Peris, an early Christian saint of whom little is known. The lake is flanked on one side by the mountain Elidir Fawr and the former slate quarry of Dinorwig. Above the opposite bank are the hills of Derlwyn and Clogwyn Mawr and a rock formation known as the Lady of Snowdon, due to its resemblance to a human face. The ruins of Dolbadarn Castle are also located on a mound above the lake.

The lake now forms the lower reservoir of Dinorwig power station, and the administrative buildings for the station are situated on the lake shore. Water is released into the lake from Marchlyn Mawr (the upper reservoir) to produce electricity during periods of peak demand. This water is, in turn, pumped back to the upper reservoir using electricity purchased at off-peak periods. The water level of the lake therefore varies considerably, depending on UK electricity demand. Excess water from the lake drains into Llyn Padarn. (Wikipedia)

Llyn Peris- Image by : Mark Helliwell

Disclaimer and caution : The lakes of snowodnia are cold in the summer and winter months and you should take great care when going into the any cold body of water- we don’t technically swim lengths in these lakes (although some do), we more over bathe and allow our bodies to adjust to the cold temperatures. If you are considering swimming actual lengths, join a club or group, and do all of your due diligence first. Wetsuits should be standard protocol along with pull buoys for safety. Never go alone or in foul weather, use your common sense please. I have not been to all of these lakes, nor swam in all of them, therefore this is more of a list of the lakes in Snowdonia and its is up to you as the individual to look into it further.

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Front cover image courtesy of : Image by : myself and excerpts of articles by National Resources Wales and Wikipedia.

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