top of page

Llyn Padarn, Llanberis: A Natural Wonder and Outdoor Paradise

Nestled in the heart of Eryri, also known as Snowdonia, lies the breathtaking Llyn Padarn. This magnificent lake is situated in a valley surrounded by the majestic Yr Wyddfa and Y Glyderau mountains. Located near the charming village of Llanberis, Llyn Padarn offers a perfect blend of history, ecology, and exciting outdoor activities.

Nestled in the heart of Eryri, also known as Snowdonia, lies the breathtaking Llyn Padarn. This magnificent lake is situated in a valley surrounded by the majestic Yr Wyddfa and Y Glyderau mountains. Located near the charming village of Llanberis, Llyn Padarn offers a perfect blend of history, ecology, and exciting outdoor activities.

A Glacial Wonder

Llyn Padarn's origin dates back thousands of years ago when glaciers receded during the last ice age. Spanning approximately 3.2 kilometers in length and 500 meters in width at its widest point, Llyn Padarn is one of the largest natural lakes in Wales. With a maximum depth of around 30 meters, this pristine body of water is a sight to behold.

The lake is fed by the main flow of water from Llyn Peris, which is connected to Llyn Padarn by the Afon Bala, a network of mountain streams, and rivers. Llyn Padarn's water then flows towards the Menai Strait near Caernarfon via the Afon Rhythallt and the Afon Seiont.

Delving into History: Dolbadarn Castle

At the southeastern end of Llyn Padarn stands the impressive Dolbadarn Castle. This circular tower, standing approximately 15 meters high, was constructed during the 13th century by Llywelyn the Great as a defensive post between Caernarfon and Conwy. It played a significant role during a power struggle for Gwynedd, as it served as a prison for Owain ap Gruffudd, who was imprisoned by his brother Llywelyn ap Gruffudd.

Although the castle eventually fell into ruin in the 18th century, it has since been preserved as a Grade 1 listed building by Cadw and is open to the public. From the castle, visitors can enjoy breathtaking views of Llyn Padarn, especially during sunset.

The Slate Industry: A Historic Legacy

Exploring the shoreline of Llyn Padarn, visitors will find remnants of the region's rich slate industry. Vivian quarry, located at the eastern end of the lake, was part of a vast network of quarry workings on the Elidir Fawr hillside. These quarries were connected by inclines and narrow gauge railways, which transported slate from the mountainsides to the shores of Llyn Padarn.

During the late 19th century, the slate industry reached its peak, producing nearly 100,000 tonnes of Welsh slate annually. The industry employed approximately 3,000 people from the local towns and villages, making it the largest employer in the area. However, quarrying for slate around Llyn Padarn ceased in 1969.

Today, the remnants of the slate industry have transformed into various tourist attractions. Gilfach Ddu is home to a free slate museum and quarry hospital, offering visitors a glimpse into the challenging working conditions of the past. The flooded Vivian quarry has become a popular scuba diving center, while the railway tracks along the northern shore now serve as a tourist attraction. Additionally, the former railway track along the southern shore has been transformed into the Lôn Las Peris, a tarmac cycle track connecting Llanberis to Brynrefail.

UNESCO World Heritage Status

The significance of the slate industry in the Llyn Padarn area has been recognized by UNESCO, which awarded the North Wales slate quarries World Heritage status. This prestigious recognition highlights the cultural and historical importance of the region's slate industry, further enhancing Llyn Padarn's allure.

Commonwealth Games and Rowing

Llyn Padarn has also played host to prestigious events, including the rowing competition during the 1958 Commonwealth Games. The lake continues to be a popular training location for rowers, with teams like the Bangor University boats frequently seen gliding across its calm waters. Welsh Rowing has also utilized Llyn Padarn for training camps, showcasing the lake's suitability for rowing activities.

Tragedy and Memorial: RAF Wessex Helicopter Crash

In 1993, tragedy struck Llyn Padarn when an RAF Wessex helicopter crash-landed into its waters while transporting air cadets. Regrettably, the accident resulted in three fatalities. This heartbreaking incident, captured on camera from the lake railway, serves as a poignant reminder of the sacrifices made by those who serve in the military. To honor the lives lost, a memorial plaque was installed on the shoreline near the carparks at Y Glyn.

Nature's Sanctuary

Llyn Padarn and its surrounding woodland are designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). The lake is home to the Arctic char, a fish typically found in colder climates. The unique genetic characteristics of the Arctic char in Llyn Padarn distinguish them from those in other lakes. Explorers of the lake may also have the opportunity to spot captivating creatures such as otters and kingfishers. Moreover, floating water-plantain, a nationally rare plant species, thrives in the lake's pristine waters. The ancient sessile oak woodland along the shoreline provides a habitat for various wildlife species, including bats, birds, and insects. Witnessing the bats swoop down to water level at twilight adds a memorable touch to any paddle or swim in Llyn Padarn.

Outdoor Adventures Await, Llyn padarn, Llanberis

Llyn Padarn offers a plethora of outdoor activities for visitors to enjoy. During the summer holidays, the lake becomes a hub of excitement with swimming, canoeing, kayaking, paddleboarding, rowing, and fishing activities taking place. On windy days, the lake becomes a playground for dinghy sailors and windsurfers. It's worth noting that motorized craft are generally not permitted on Llyn Padarn unless they have obtained a license from the council or Parc Padarn.

Exploring the lake's shores reveals numerous attractions. A well-marked footpath allows visitors to take a leisurely stroll around the lake, while photographers are drawn to Llyn Padarn's picturesque landscapes. The iconic Lone Tree, set against the backdrop of Pen y Pass, offers the perfect subject for capturing stunning sunrise photographs. In Gilfach Ddu, visitors can find activity providers, craft shops, cafes, the lake railway, and the Slate Museum. Additionally, rowing boats are available for hire during the summer months from the village car park adjacent to the children's playground.

Access and Preservation

Gwynedd Council oversees the majority of Llyn Padarn, with day-to-day management carried out by Parc Padarn wardens located near the quarry hospital in Gilfach Ddu. Access to the lake is conveniently available from several car parks in Llanberis, Y Glyn, and Gilfach Ddu. However, certain areas along the shoreline should be avoided by swimmers and paddlers. The local fishing club owns a section of the lake parallel to Lon Las Peris and another section of land near the Penllyn bridge. Respecting these designated areas ensures the undisturbed spawning grounds for Arctic char and the conservation efforts put forth in preserving the lake's ecosystem.


Llyn Padarn in Llanberis is a natural wonder that combines history, ecology, and thrilling outdoor activities. Its glacial origins, the ruins of Dolbadarn Castle, and the remnants of the slate industry take visitors on a journey through time. The lake's designation as a Site of Special Scientific Interest showcases its ecological significance, making it a haven for various wildlife species. From rowing on its tranquil waters to exploring the lake's shores and immersing oneself in the area's rich history, Llyn Padarn offers an unforgettable experience for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers alike. So, plan your visit to Llyn Padarn and discover the beauty and excitement that awaits in this Welsh paradise.

Published by

Visit Caernarfon Ltd


Los comentarios se han desactivado.
bottom of page