British Landscapes Photography: The Lakes of Snowdonia

Doesn’t time fly – its almost six months now since I started this column and through out that period we have always visited England, Scotland and Wales. So for the immediate future I thought I would slow things down each time concentrating on a specific area.

One of the areas I know particularly well is the Snowdonia National Park. As a landscape photographer I am drawn to including water in my images and that is certainly possible in Snowdonia where, depending on the definition of the word “lake ” there could be anywhere between 150 and up to 400 such bodies of water. Compared with the lakes of Cumbria, which have become known as the Lake District, as though no other existed, the lakes of Snowdonia have never been celebrated  in the same way for their beauty but more in the past for their tales of local folklore. Although the images below were captured sometime ago  this will be the first time they have been released and I hope they go some way to ensuring that these lakes are equally appreciated as those in the Lake District.

Llyn Gwynant © Derek Fogg - British Landscapes Photography

Llyn Gwynant © Derek Fogg – British Landscapes Photography

Captured on my first digital camera almost nine years ago Llyn Gwynant for me is one of the most attractive of the Snowdonia lakes. It lies on the River Glaslyn, in the Nant Gwynant valley with Snowdon to the north west, and to the east Llyn Dinas with the village of Bethania between them. The lake is natural, having been formed by glacial action. It was used as a filming location in the 2003 film ‘Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life’.

Llyn Dinas © Derek Fogg - British Landscapes Photography

Llyn Dinas © Derek Fogg – British Landscapes Photography

Just down the road from Llyn Gwynant is Llyn Dinas. It lies on the valley floor a few miles north of Beddgelert. It takes its name from the nearby Dinas Emrys, a rocky and wooded hill just downstream of the lake where the remains of both medieval and older fortifications have been found. A rock near the lake named Carreg yr Eryr (The stone of the eagle) was said in a charter of 1198 to mark the spot where the boundaries of the three cantrefs(land division) of Aberconwy, Ardudwy and Arfon met. According to Giraldus Cambrensis an eagle used to perch on it once a week, anticipating battle between the men of the three cantrefs. Just one of the folklore tales I referred to earlier.

Llyn Elsi © Derek Fogg - British Landscapes Photography

Llyn Elsi © Derek Fogg – British Landscapes Photography

One of the tourist hot spots of Snowdonia is Betws-y-coed and located above the village and accessible by a fairly easy going track is Llyn Elsi. The trail starts by climbing through a wood of oak, sycamore, ash and birch. Llyn Elsi is beautiful in all seasons, with its necklace of heather, gorse and rowan. There is a path round the lake, and at a height of over 700 ft it affords good views to the north-west towards the mountain ranges of the Carneddau and the Glyderau. Prior to the dam being built in 1914 the lake was in fact two smaller lakes, called Llyn Rhisgog and Llyn Enoc.

Llyn Melynllyn © Derek Fogg - British Landscapes Photography

Llyn Melynllyn © Derek Fogg – British Landscapes Photography

Now onto the wilder side of Snowdonia and a visit to the less accessible Llyn Melynllyn.(yellow lake)  The lake is on the edge of the Carneddau range of mountains and lies at a height of just over 2,000 feet. Cliffs rise steeply from its western edge, up to the summit of Foel Grach, and down from which most of its feeder streams flow. The outflow from the lake is called Afon Melynllyn, this stream flowing north-east to join Afon Dulyn, itself a tributary of the river Conwy.

Llyn y Dywarchen © Derek Fogg - British Landscapes Photography

Llyn y Dywarchen © Derek Fogg – British Landscapes Photography

Finally we visit a lake with more folklore and a wonderful backdrop of a less well known view of a snow covered top of Snowdon. Llyn y Dywarchen is believed to be named after a piece of turf which used to float on the water’s surface. ‘Tywarchen’ is the Welsh word for turf. On his journey through Wales in 1188, Giraldus Cambrensis referred to the floating island, or a piece of turf floating on the lake, and Thomas Pennant in 1784 also refers to vegetation moving across the lake. A small island, not a piece of turf can be found here today and is visible in the image with the small conifer tree on its top. It always reminds me of a whale with the tree being the spout.

I hope this small selection of lakes goes someway to showing that there is another “lake district” worth visiting. More images of the lakes can be seen in my Snowdonia gallery

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