Lake Vyrnwy – A picturesque spot for walking, picnics, cycling, and canoeing

April 25, 2021

Lake Vyrnwy is a great day out for walks, cycling, and even canoeing. Easy within reach of central Wales and the borders for a great day out.

Wet Misty Vyrnwy

Lake Vyrnwy, or Llyn Efyrnwy to give it’s proper name, is a majestical place. 

Nestled within steep forested mountains, and even a gothic tower on the water, you could think you’re in somewhere like Luxembourg. It’s not what you expect after driving down the lanes, past rolling farmland, to be confronted with a large dam.

Lake Vyrnwy, with water flowing over the top
Yes, a Dam. Lake Vyrnwy is manmade, constructed in the 1880s to provide Liverpool with water.

In fact, the gothic tower that sits on the lake is actually where the water gets filtered before being sent along pipes to Merseyside. You got to hand it to the Victorians. If we built it today, that filter station would just look like a boring concrete box instead of a mystical castle on the lake.

Lake Vyrnwy History

Llanwddyn information board
The history is not all a garden of roses though as an entire village was flooded when the dam was created.  The village was called Llanwddyn. It was relocated to the new village of Llanwddyn, which is the village by the dam.

There’s a small parking area and picnic spot at the side of the lake near the old village. You can read an information board all about it there.

In really dry spells the remains of the old village emerge from the lake.

Here’s a spooky dive video was taken under Lake Vyrnwy.


Things to Do at Lake Vyrnwy

Lake Vyrnwy has a road that goes around its circumference, which is about 13 miles long. Just long enough for a half marathon – which, funnily enough, they have every year (see Lake Vyrnwy Half Marathon website for more details).

If you’re not up to running it, plenty of people use the road to spend the day walking around the lake….but that might be a bit far with the kids.

Family Birdwatching and Walks with the RSPB

RSBP Shop at Lake Vyrnwy
Our recommendation is that you go to the village of Llanwddyn (not the one under the lake, but the relocated village by the dam) and head to the RSPB shop.

RSPB Kids Kit
When we visited they had a kids explorer pack that you could borrow (a deposit required).

We thought this was a fantastic idea. It contained activities, such as bark rubbing and scavenger hunt, to even books and binoculars.

Thumbs up to the RSPB for such a great idea.

The RSPB manage the nature reserve that runs around the lake.

You can pick up leaflets in the RSPB shop that help you spot the local birdlife or do one of the nature trails they have created.

Spotting birds at the Lake Vyrnwy RSPB Hide
Just over the road from the RSPB shop is one of their hides.

This is a great place for the kids to spend some time spotting birds coming to the feeders.

The RSPB have a few hides around the lake.

Walks at Lake Vyrnwy

As well as walking around the lake and walking across the dam, the RSPB has 5 nature trails.

These range from 1-2 miles all the way up to 5.5 miles, so something for everyone.

Lots of waterfalls at Lake Vyrnwy
When we visited it had been raining a lot (the Lake was in flood), which provided us with
lots of waterfalls, streaming down the mountains and into the lake.

Cycling & Cycle Hire at Lake Vyrnwy

Giant picnic table at Lake Vyrnwy
With its flat circular road around the lake, it makes for a good spot for a bit of family cycling, with plenty of stopping points on the route.

It does get busy in the summer months, with lots of cars (and the odd coach) trying to find a parking space around the lake. The road is very narrow in places, so you’ll need to keep your eyes open for drivers not paying attention, but when it is busy, cars won’t be travelling fast.

We visited ‘out of season’ and the road was quiet, with only us and the other occasional car.

If you don’t want to take your bikes with you, there are few places you can hire bikes locally.  See the Old Barn Cafe, or Artisans Coffee Shop, which are opposite the RSPB Shop.

Canoeing and Watersports on Lake Vyrnwy

Sailing, windsurfing, and canoe hire are available at certain times of the year (weekends from Easter to October). You can also hire wetsuits, plus pay a fee to put your own canoe on the lake. (Make sure you have insurance – click here for more details on canoeing insurance).

Click here for (an old) water sports price list. For more details call 01691 870 615 or 07816 036 358.


Getting in Touch with Lake Vyrnwy (RSPB)

Here's how you can get in contact with Lake Vyrnwy (RSPB).

Lake Vyrnwy (RSPB) Website

[email protected]

01691 870278

Where to find Lake Vyrnwy (RSPB)

Sat Nav Postcode: Lat/lng: 52.76139,-3.45969

There's a few parking spots around the lake, or parking and picnic spots in the village of Llanwddyn, which you can drive over the dam to get there.

Llanwddyn, Lake Vyrnwy.


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Father to 3 kids, who loves getting out and about (hiking, running, camping, cycling, canoeing...) Co-founded Get Out With The Kids to help other parents enjoy the outdoors with their family.

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