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A monument to the self-aggrandizement of the Victorian age, Lake Vyrnwy (Llyn Efyrnwy) combines its functional role as a water supply for Liverpool with a touch of architectural genius in the shape of the huge nineteenth-century dam at its southern end and the Disneyesque turreted straining-tower that edges out into the icy waters. It's a magnificent spot, and a popular centre for walking and birdwatching, with nature trails. The village of LLANWDDYN was flattened and rebuilt at the eastern end, the inhabitants receiving compensation of just £5 for losing their homes. The story is told, somewhat apologetically, in the RSPB Vyrnwy Visitor Centre (April– Dec 24 daily 10.30am–5.30pm; Jan– March Sat & Sun only; free), which is located on the western side of the dam and coexists with an RSPB Visitor Centre (same hours). A few yards down the road, there's a tourist office and Artisans Coffee Shop (Tel:01691/870377), from where you can rent bikes.
Lake Vyrnwy's immediate surroundings have some of the best accommodation in the region, notably the grand Lake Vyrnwy Hotel (Tel:01691/870692, Web: www.lakevyrnwy.com ; Price: £110), overlooking the waters above the southeastern shore. If you just want a look, the hotel serves a full afternoon tea in a chintzy lounge overlooking the lake. There's a great B&B just beyond the visitor centre at The Oaks (Tel:01691/870250, Web: www.vyrnwyaccommodation.co.uk ; Price: £50), and daytime snacks and full evening meals are available at Lake View (Tel:01691/870286), on the lakeside road beyond the Lake Vyrnwy Hotel. There are five camping pitches at Fronheulog (Tel:01691/870662), at the top of the hairpin bends on the road to Llanfyllin, or in Llanwddyn itself at Bryn Fedwen (Tel:01691/870288).