Set amid the Welsh mountains, Bala makes a convenient break in any tour of Wales. Its main feature is Bala Lake to which many legends are attached, and is the only home of the Gwyniad – a kind of white-scaled salmon. Unlike many Welsh towns, Bala has remained relatively untouched by centuries of feuding. Previously it was known for its stocking industry. George III insisted on wearing Bala stockings when he suffered from rheumatism. But more recently Bala became an important centre of Welsh Nonconformism. In the forefront of last century’s revivalist movement was Carmarthen-born Thomas Charles, who settled in Bala at the end of the 18th century after graduating from Jesus College, Oxford. He held several curacies Within the Anglican Church, but his increasing dissatisfaction finally caused him to join the Methodist movement. Charles set up Sunday schools which were novel in that adults attended as well as children. These were especially popular amongst the Welsh hill farmers and Welsh Bibles were printed and distributed. In 1804 Charles founded the British and Foreign Bible Society which is dedicated to ‘providing a Bible for all the people of the world’. He was prompted to do this when Mary Jones, a 16-year-old from Llannhangel-Y-Pennant over 20 miles away journeyed barefoot to Bala with her savings in order to buy a Bible -only to find they were sold out. Charles died in 1814, but his work was continued by his grandson David who, with Dr Lewis Edwards, founded the Calvinistic Methodist College in the hills above Bala in 1837. At the height of the Methodist revival crowds of 20,000 were recorded at ‘sessions’ at Bala Green. A statue of Charles stands in front of the Methodist church. He is buried at Llanycil, known as the Westminster Abbey of Wales.
Slate built market town in the Mawddach Valley, Dolgellau lies at the foot of the impressive Cader Idris. (2927ft) A great place to stay as a base for Snowdownia National Park.
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