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Lakes, Lochs, Llyn and Loughs in the U.K

Lakes in Scotland are called lochs, and in Northern Ireland loughs and in Wales a lake is also called a llyn.

Lakes in the U.K. are often accompanied by spectacular scenery as in the Cumbrian Lake District, the Scottish mountains and the rugged, wild wind-swept Snowdonia National Park. Some of the largest lakes in England and Wales are man-made reservoirs, or lakes whose size has been increased by damming.

The largest lakes in England are : Windermere, Ullswater, Bassenthwaite Lake and Derwent Water.

The largest natural lakes in Wales are : Llyn Tegid, Llangorse Lake, Llyn Cowlyd, Llyn Padarn, Tal-y-llyn lake, Llyn Cwellyn, Llyn Llywenan and Kenfig Pool.

The largest freshwater loughs in Ireland are : Lough Neagh, Lough Corrib and Lough Derg.

Largest and deepest lochs in Scotland : Loch Ness, Loch Lomond, Loch Morar, Loch Tay and Loch Awe.

The volume of water in Loch Ness is nearly double that in all the lakes of England and Wales combined.

Windermere

Windermere is the largest natural lake in England. It is a ribbon lake formed in a glacial trough after the retreat of ice at the start of the current interglacial. It has been one of the country’s most popular places for holidays and summer homes since 1847, when the Kendal and Windermere Railway built a branch line to it. It is in the county of Cumbria and entirely within the Lake District National Park. The word “Windermere” is thought to translate as “Vinandr’s lake”, from the Old Norse name Vinandr and Old English mere, meaning lake. It was known as “Winander Mere” or “Winandermere” until at least the nineteenth century. Its name suggests it is a mere, a lake that is broad in relation to its depth, but despite the name this is not the case for Windermere, which in particular has a noticeable thermocline, distinguishing it from typical meres.

Windermere is a ribbon lake. (Ribbon lakes are long, narrow and finger-like.) It was formed 13,000 years ago during the last major ice age by two glaciers, one from the Troutbeck valley and the other from the Fairfield horseshoe. When the glaciers melted the lake filled with the meltwater, which was held in by moraine (rock material) deposited by the glacier. The lake is drained from its southernmost point by the River Leven. It is replenished by the rivers Brathay, Rothay, Trout Beck, Cunsey Beck and several other lesser streams. The lake is largely surrounded by foothills of the Lake District which provide pleasant low-level walks; to the north and north-east are the higher fells of central Lakeland. There is debate as to whether the stretch of water between Newby Bridge and Lakeside at the southern end of the lake should be considered part of Windermere, or a navigable stretch of the River Leven. This affects the stated length of the lake, which is 18.08 kilometres (11.23 mi) long if measured from the bridge at Newby Bridge, or 16.9 kilometres (10.5 mi) if measured from Lakeside. The lake varies in width up to a maximum of 1.49 kilometres (0.93 mi), and covers an area of 14.73 square kilometres (5.69 sq mi). With a maximum depth of 66.7 metres (219 ft) and an elevation above sea level of 39 metres (128 ft), the lowest point of the lake bed is well below sea level. There are two towns on the lake, Ambleside and Bowness-on-Windermere, as the town of Windermere does not directly touch the lake. Known as Applethwaite prior to the arrival of the railway, it is about a fifteen-minute walk from the lakefront, and has now grown together with Bowness. Windermere railway station is a hub for train and bus connections to the surrounding areas, Manchester, Manchester Airport, and the West Coast Main Line.(Ambleside is not strictly speaking on the lake but is connected by the hamlet of Waterhead).

Islands

The lake contains 18 islands. By far the largest is the privately owned Belle Isle (16.18 hectares (40.0 acres)) lying opposite Bowness and around a kilometre in length. The other islands are considerably smaller. The island of Lady Holme is named after the church that formerly stood there. The remaining islands are Bee Holme, Blake Holme, Crow Holme, Fir Holme, Grass Holme, Lilies of the Valley (East, and West), Ling Holme, Hawes Holme, Hen Holme, Maiden Holme (the smallest island, containing a singular tree), Ramp Holme, Rough Holme, Snake Holme, Thompson Holme (2nd largest), Silver Holme.

Steamers, launches and ferries

Passenger services serve the length of the lake, from Lakeside railway station, on the Lakeside and Haverthwaite heritage steam railway at the southern end of the lake, to Waterhead Bay near Ambleside in the north. Intermediate stops are made atBowness and, by smaller launches only, at Brockholes. Some boats only operate part of the route, or operate out and back cruises, whilst others run the whole distance. These services date back to the former Furness Railway, who built the Lakeside branch, and were at one time operated by British Rail, the former state-owned rail operator. Since privatisation, three of the old railway boats are operated by Windermere Lake Cruises Ltd, along with a fleet of smaller and more modern launches. Three of the original four boats survive: the MV Tern of 1891, the MV Teal of 1936, and the MV Swan of 1938. The fourth, MV Swift of 1900, was broken up at Lakeside in 1998. Her rudder and only one propeller are displayed at Bowness. Although often described as steamers, all are now diesel motor vessels. Tern and Swift were built with steam engines, but converted to diesel in the 1950s. The Windermere Ferry, a vehicle carrying cable ferry, runs across the lake from Ferry Nab on the eastern side of the lake to Far Sawrey on the western side of the lake. This service forms part of the B5285. There are also two summer only passenger ferries that cross the lake. One crosses from Lakeside station to Fell Foot Park at the southern end of the lake, whilst the other links Bowness with Far Sawrey.

Windermere Steamboat Museum

Windermere Steamboat Museum is located in Bowness on Rayrigg Road, and includes a collection of vintage steam boats dating back to 1896, as well as information about the “Swallows and Amazons” and the history of racing boats. The museum has been closed since 2006 as it awaits funding for refurbishment. Windermere’s long popularity for steam launches has even given its name to the Windermere kettle, a steam-powered tea urn.

Loch Ness

Loch Ness is a large, deep, freshwater loch in the Scottish Highlands extending for approximately 37 km (23 mi) southwest of Inverness. Its surface is 15.8 m (52 ft) above sea level. Loch Ness is best known for the alleged sightings of the cryptozoological Loch Ness Monster, also known affectionately as “Nessie”. It is connected at the southern end by the River Oich and a section of the Caledonian Canal to Loch Oich. At the northern end there is the Bona Narrows which opens out into Loch Dochfour, which feeds the River Ness and a further section of canal to Inverness. It is one of a series of interconnected, murky bodies of water in Scotland; its water visibility is exceptionally low due to a high peat content in the surrounding soil. Loch Ness is the second largest Scottish loch by surface area at 56.4 km2 (21.8 sq mi) after Loch Lomond, but due to its great depth, it is the largest by volume. Its deepest point is 230 m (755 ft), deeper than the height of London’s BT Tower at 189 m (620 ft) and deeper than any other loch except Loch Morar. It contains more fresh water than all the lakes in England and Wales combined, and is the largest body of water on the Great Glen Fault, which runs from Inverness in the north to Fort William in the south.

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Island

The only island on Loch Ness is Cherry Island, visible at its southwestern end, near Fort Augustus. It is a crannog, which is a form of artificial island. (Most crannogs were constructed during the Iron Age.) There was formerly a second island (Dog Island) which was submerged when the water level was raised during the construction of the Caledonian Canal.

Loch Ness Monster

The Loch Ness Monster is a cryptid that is reputed to inhabit Loch Ness in the Scottish Highlands. The most frequent speculation is that the creature represents a line of long-surviving plesiosaurs. It is similar to other supposed lake monsters in Scotland and elsewhere, though its description varies from one account to the next. Popular interest and belief in the animal has varied since it was brought to the world’s attention in 1933. Evidence of its existence is anecdotal, with minimal and much-disputed photographic material and sonar readings. The scientific community regards the Loch Ness Monster as a modern-day myth, and explains sightings as a mix of hoaxes and wishful thinking. Despite this, it remains one of the most famous examples of cryptozoology. The legendary monster has been affectionately referred to by the nickname Nessie since the 1950s.

Urquhart Castle

Urquhart Castle sits beside Loch Ness in Scotland along the A82 road, between Fort William and Inverness. It is close to the village of Drumnadrochit. Though extensively ruined, it was in its day one of the largest strongholds of medievalScotland, and remains an impressive structure, splendidly situated on a headland overlooking Loch Ness. It is also near this castle that the majority of Nessie (Loch Ness Monster) sightings occur.

The walled portion of the Castle is shaped roughly like a figure-8 aligned northeast-southwest along the bank of Loch Ness. The main gate is on the inland side near the middle, narrow portion, of the walls. A much smaller gate on the Loch side is located roughly across from the main gate. The castle is quite close to water level and offers little in the way of physical boundaries, but a dry moat was excavated on the inland side with a drawbridge leading to the main gate. There is considerable room for muster on the inland side, and further inland a hill rises quite close to the castle. Most of the remaining built up area of the inner courtyard is on the northeast portion, which is quite close to water level. It is anchored at its northern tip by the main tower house of five stories and an upper castellated wall. The tower’s south-west side blew down in a storm in the early 18th century, but the remaining sections can be accessed via the circular staircase built into one corner of the tower. Although no upper floors remain, the cuts for support beams are visible in the stone walls and illustrate construction methods of the era. Below the tower are the Great Hall, kitchen, various trades and the chapel, mostly in ruins. The castle formerly had another built-up area at its southern end, located on a small hill of about 5 meters rise. Opposite this, on the Loch side, was a more recently built smithy and a dovecot. This entire area is now in ruins, and the uppermost portions of the tower house remain the tallest portion of the castle still standing.

Lake Vyrnwy

Lake Vyrnwy Nature Reserve and Estate is an area of land in Montgomeryshire, Powys, Wales, surrounding the Victorian reservoir of Lake Vyrnwy. Its stone-built dam, built in the 1880s, was the first of its kind in the world. The Nature Reserve and the area around it are jointly managed by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), and Severn Trent Water. It was built for the purpose of supplying Liverpool and Merseyside with fresh water. It flooded the head of the Vyrnwy Valley and submerged the small village of Llanwddyn. Today it is a popular retreat, for people in the West Midlands and Merseyside for days out, and also for ornithologists, cyclists, and hikers. The Reserve is designated as a National Nature Reserve, a Site of Special Scientific Interest, a Special Protection Area, and a Special Area of Conservation.

Lake Vyrnwy is a Nature Reserve. The RSPB has several bird hides around the lake, where a number of rare species of birds are known to be breeding, including the Peregrin Falcon, the Pied Flycatcher the Redstart the Siskin and the Wood Warbler. Every spring they host a Dawn Chorus tour. Around 90 species of bird have been recorded as breeding on the reserve, and six species of bat, including the pipistrelle and brown long-eared bat. Butterfly species include Purple Hairstreaks, commas and peacocks. Dragonflies include Golden Ringed, Common Hawker and Four spotted chaser. Heather Moorland that grows on the mountains around the lake is now being resorted. This restoration of heather moorland is becoming increasingly common in Britain. The heather is usually burnt, cut, and the seeds collected to be sowed where the heather has gone. Management of the moorland helps improve the habitat for Red Grouse and the Short-eared Owl. Sheep, cattle and ponies also graze on the heather. Broadleaf trees are being planted to replace coniferous trees, and man-made features such as hedgerows and dry-stone walls are also being restored, and wild flowers areas are being restored to help insects, birds, and other wildlife.

Sculpture Trail

Llanwddyn has had since 1995 a sculpture trail in the valley below the dam. This Sculpture Park, started by local artist Andy Hancock contains dozens of wooden carved sculptures. All from individual sculptors, who have come from as far a field as Australia, and Eastern Europe. There are many other sculptures placed at picnic sites around the lake itself. For instance, there are large wooden picnic benches in the shape of leaves and trees on the west side of the lake at Llechwedd Ddu. Near the Old Village on the beach is a sculpture of dolphins, which when the lake rises in a flood, gives the impression that they are jumping out of the water. Several totems can be seen carved into standing trees. many others have been carved from fallen trunks and been erected again.

Activities in the area include sailing, hiking on Glyndwr’s Way, rock climbing, cycling and horseback riding. There is also a half-marathon located here every year, the Vyrnwy Half Marathon.

www.rspb.org.uk/reserves-and-events/reserves-a-z/lake-vyrnwy

Lough Neagh

Lough Neagh, sometimes Loch Neagh is a large freshwater lake in Northern Ireland. Its name is derived from Irish: Loch nEathach, meaning “Lake of Eathach” .With an area of 392 square kilometres (151 square miles), it is the largest lake in the British Isles and ranks among the forty largest lakes of Europe. Located twenty miles (30 km) to the west of Belfast, it is approximately twenty miles (30 km) long and nine miles (15 km) wide. It is very shallow around the margins and the average depth in the main body of the lake is about 9 m (30 ft); although at its deepest the lough is about 25 metres (80 ft) deep. Five of the six counties of Northern Ireland have shores on the Lough (only Fermanagh does not), and its area is split among them.

Although the Lough is used for a variety of recreational and commercial activities, it is exposed and tends to get extremely rough very quickly in windy conditions. It is also used as a source of fresh water by Northern Ireland Water. Plans to increase the amount of water drawn from the Lough, through a new water treatment works at Hog Park Point, have long been planned but are yet to materialise.

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Traditional working boats on Lough Neagh include wide-beamed 16-to-21-foot (4.9 to 6.4 m) clinker-built, sprit-rigged working boats and smaller flat-bottomed “cots” and “flats”. Barges, here called “lighters”, were used up to the 1940s to transport coal over the lough and adjacent canals. Up to the 17th century, log boats (coití) were the main means of transport, some of which are as old as 6,400 years. Few traditional boats are left now, but a community-based group on the southern shore of the lough is rebuilding a series of working boats. In the 19th century, three canals were constructed, making use of the lough to link various ports and cities: the Lagan Navigation provided a link from the city of Belfast, the Newry Canal linked to the port of Newry, and the Ulster Canal led to theLough Erne navigations, providing a navigable inland route via the River Shannon to Limerick, Dublin and Waterford. The Lower Bann was also navigable to Coleraine and the Antrim coast, and the short Coalisland Canal provided a route for coal transportation. Of these waterways, only the Lower Bann remains open today, however a restoration plan for the Ulster Canal is currently in progress. Lough Neagh Rescue provides a Search & Rescue service twenty-four hours a day. It is a voluntary service with funding being provided by the District Councils bordering the Lough, its members are highly trained and are a declared facility for the Marine Coastguard Agency who co-ordinate rescues on Lough Neagh Maritime and Coastguard Agency. Lough Neagh attracts bird watchers from many nations due to the number and variety of birds which winter and summer in the boglands and shores around the lough. Eel fishing has been a major industry in Lough Neagh for centuries. Today Lough Neagh eel fisheries export their eels to restaurants all over the world. Lough Neagh was widely assumed to be owned by the state, but in 2005 it publicly emerged that it is the ancestral property of the Earl of Shaftesbury. This may have serious implications for planned changes to state-run domestic water services in Northern Ireland, as the lough supplies 40% of the region’s drinking water and is also used as a sewage outfall (in a system only permissible through British Crown immunity).

www.discoverloughneagh.com

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