Historic Landscape Characterisation

Bala and Llyn Tegid - Area 10 River Dee floodplain (PRN 24710)



Historic background

The infant River Dee is swelled by the rivers Lliw and Twrch near Llanuwchllyn (area 14) before flowing through the lake to become a sizeable river near Bala, where it is joined by another tributary, the Tryweryn. Beyond this it continues to flow east and out of the study area. The 1km wide, flat valley floor is at 160m above OD, while the surrounding sides rise fairly steeply to between 250m and 500m above OD, where there is a series of rounded hills, ridges and upland plateaux. The valley provides a natural route corridor across north Wales, and its strategic importance in the past explains the succession and concentration of defensive sites and settlements located in the area.

There are no prehistoric monuments within this character area but evidence for prehistoric activity has been discovered hereabouts, along the north east shore of Lake Bala (area 01). In the 18th century, Reverend John Peter discovered several pieces of mesolithic flint work including a knife, several scrapers and some cores and flakes, the bi-products of flint working. He postulated that a lost settlement must lie beneath the waters of Lake Bala. However for the nomadic people of the mesolithic, it is more likely that this waterside location with gentle breezes and plentiful fish stocks would have been the ideal location for a seasonal, lowland hunting camp.

The biggest impacts on this landscape probably occurred during the post-medieval period, alongside Afon Tryweryn and at the point where this watercourse meets the River Dee (Afon Dyfrdwy). The Llanfor tithe map (1849), which covers the area, certainly implies that the river has changed course since then. However, the field pattern depicted large, fairly regular enclosures, showing that little change has taken place since.

The construction of the Bala & Ffestiniog railway in 1882 had a marked impact locally, bringing industrial development and commerce (area 04) to what had previously been an undeveloped floodplain. According to Berry (2004, 15), in the 1890s, engineers from London came to survey the possibility of making a dam by Bodweni, where the Dee valley is narrow. The resulting lake would have drowned Y Bala. According to the plan, Y Bala would have been rebuilt between Cefn-ddwysarn and Llandderfel.

The 1946 RAF vertical aerial photographs (106G/UK 1468 2473), show that the meander
of the river here to the north of Bala was still evident (see below), although the majority of the fields were the same as they are today. Further east, the line of the modern road (B4391) is obviously slightly different to that shown on the 1946 RAF vertical aerial photographs (106G/UK 1455 3171-6 2 May 1946), particularly in that it has been straightened to avoid the southern kink towards Rhos-y-gwaliau, although generally-speaking the fieldscape has remained unchanged (although the large pool to the south of Bodwen did not exist then).

In 1952, a water works scheme diverted the course of both rivers, truncating a large section of the river Tryweryn. The flood detention and compensation storage works were designed to pump 50,000,000 gallons of water per day to West Cheshire, Wrexham and atomic energy developments in Wirral.

The 1957 RAF vertical aerial photographs (58/2122/48 (Flight 21), 12/03/1957) show the recent canalisation work on the Dee and Trweryn at the top of the lake. The railway station and railway are still intact.

Key historic landscape characteristics

Water and wetland, irregular fieldscape, river valley

The area, a large, flat river valley bottom, characterised by open pasture, grazed by cattle and punctuated by mature trees. The boundaries that do exist, dividing the floodplain into irregular fields, are mainly earthen banks, some topped by trees and hedgerows, all giving the appearance of improved estate land. There are two substantial farm residences in the centre of the area. The railway that runs along the edge of the area is now derelict.

Back to Bala and Llyn Tegid Landscape Character Map



Visit our social network sites
Ymwelwch a'n safleoedd rhwydwaith cymdeithasol