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The little water-sports town of BALA (Y Bala), twenty miles east of Blaenau Ffestiniog, is set at the northern end of Wales's largest natural lake, Llyn Tegid – perfect for windsurfing due to the winds buffeting up the Talyllyn Valley. Bala Adventure and Watersports Centre (Tel:01678/521059, Web: www.balawatersports.com ) runs courses and rents equipment for windsurfing, kayaking and sailing.
Around two hundred days a year dam-released water crashes down the white-water course of the Afon Tryweryn, four miles west up the A4212, facilitating commercial whitewater rafting trips (Tel:01678/521083, Web: www.ukrafting.co.uk ), down a mile-and-a-half course. Either go for two runs down (40–60min; £28) or two-hour session (4–7 people for £228 midweek and £259 at weekends). For the intrepid, try the Orca, a two-person inflatable in which you tackle the rapids unguided (half-day £70 per person).
Bala has plenty of good places to stay, including the welcoming Traian, 95 Tegid St (Tel:01678/520059; Price: £40), with shared bathrooms, and Abercelyn, a fine country house half a mile south of Bala on the A494 (Tel:01678/521109, Web: www.abercelyn.co.uk ; Price: £60).
The central Bala Backpackers, 32 Tegid St (Tel:01678/521700, Web: www.bala-backpackers.co.uk ; dorms £10–12), is handy, and there's camping at Pen-y-Bont, just by the lakeside steam-railway station off the B4391 Llandrillo backroad (Tel:01678/520549; April– Oct).
For daytime food, Sospan Fach, 97 High St, provides well-priced, wholesome food, and for dinner, look no further than the cosy Awel yr Aran, also on the High Street, which serves up sumptuous dishes made from mainly local produce.