Britain’s Top 5 Lakes and Lochs

Kayaking on Lake Bala
Kayaking on Lake Bala

There is something about being near the water that seems to complete a holiday. Our lakes and lochs are some of the most beautiful in Europe and unsurprisingly attract holidaymakers like bees to honey. It is not surprising to find out why. The majority of our freshwater lakes have been carved out of glacial valleys thus invariably are surrounded by dramatic scenery. The beautiful surroundings, along with great sporting activities, fascinating historic houses/ruins and sumptuous restaurants make for the perfect setting for your next cottage break. We are going to look at a few of our favourite lakes and lochs in Britain.

Loch Lomond, Scotland

“The bonny banks o’Loch Lomond” so the song goes, and with good reason, Loch Lomond is renowned for its stunning beauty. This is an exquisite fresh water loch that effectively marks the border between the Lowlands and the Highlands. The expanse of water (23 miles long and 5 miles wide) is ‘peppered’ with islands including the largest fresh water island in the country. Set within the Trossachs National Park, Loch Lomond is very accessible to Scotland’s major cities of Glasgow and Edinburgh. Boasting a world class golf course, possibly one of the most scenic in the country, Loch Lomond has a lot offer sports enthusiasts with canoeing, wakeboarding and of course hill walking some of the local favourites.  The mesmerising rugged scenery have given rise to centuries old myths and legends, a truly inspirational and unforgettable part of Scotland at its best.

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Loch Ness, Scotland

The enigma that is Loch Ness is probably best wrapped up in the mysterious reptilian monster reputed to live within what is the deepest loch/lake in the country. First ‘spotted’ eighty years ago this year, the legend of “Nessie” is now of course famous the world over, but this huge loch (in some parts reaching a staggering depth of 755ft) certainly has the capacity to hide a whole family of loch monsters! Loch Ness is part of a series water channels, including the Caledonian Canal, that follows a natural fault line through the dramatic heart of the Scottish Highlands. The history enveloped within the surrounding glens is haunting, perhaps exemplified by the ruins of Urquhart Castle which have looked across the shores of Loch Ness for seven centuries. If your visit coincides with a day when Nessie is feeling shy, don’t worry, the surrounding glens are home to fascinating variety of wildlife include red (as well as roe) deer, osprey and pine martins. It is not surprising that visitors readily find themselves entranced by the bewitching Loch Ness.

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Coniston, Lake District

The history of Coniston Water is intertwined with the fascinating but ultimately tragic story of Donald Campbell and his successive attempts to break the world water speed record. The juxtaposition between the extremes of mechanical technology as was and this tranquil lake are stark but you can see why this location was chosen for the record attempt. The waters are invariably calm and the lake is quieter than its neighbour at Windemere. The natural beauty of the area entranced the philosopher and artist John Ruskin who made the eastern shore of the lake his home for the past part of three decades until his death in 1900.  Today the lake remains one of the most picturesque corners of the Lake District, with many attracted by the stunning walks. The‘Old Man of Coniston’ towers majestically across the valley, offering a stunning vantage point to survey Coniston and the beautiful fells beyond.

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Windermere, Lake District

Perhaps the most famous of Cumbria’s many and varied lakes, Windermere is certainly the largest. Indeed it is the largest freshwater lake in England.  Once a mecca for speedboat enthusiasts, the waters of Lake Windermere are much calmer these days since the enforcement of the controversial 10 knot (11.5 mph) speed limit in 2005.  The enthusiasm for Windermere itself has not waned and visitors are attracted from all over the world. Regular boat trips from the bustling Bowness are a leisurely way to take in the natural surroundings, with the expansive lake flanked by mature wooded hillsides it stretches nearly 11 miles from north to south. Ambleside, just a mile from the northern shore is a fascinating stopping point with quant shops and delicious eateries.  Further south the Lake District Visitor Centre at Brockhole (famously visited by Beatrix Potter) has a lot to offer with delightful gardens and an adventure play park for children.

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Lake Bala, North Wales

Lake Bala, or Llyn Tegid as it is known in Welsh, sits proudly in the Snowdonia  National Park and lies just a short distance from the town from which it takes its name. The largest natural lake in Wales, Lake Bala joins with the fast flowing River Dee making this area a premier destination for fishing with salmon, trout and grayling tempting anglers from throughout the country. The rolling countryside and numerous other lakes in the area also mean that this part of Wales is favoured by cyclists, pony trekkers and walkers. Guided walks and cycle hire are available with routes following the lake and extending beyond into some of the most scenic countryside in Britain. If you are feeling more intrepid, and looking for something a little more adventurous, then the National Whitewater Centre at Fongoch (very close to Bala) might just be for you. Located on a mountain river, the challenging white water is a test for kayakers, rafters and canoeists in search of an adrenaline fix. With such a wide variety of activities, Bala is perfect destination for your next adventure holiday.

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