Britain's best lakes and lochs

Michael Manton / 09 February 2016

Britain's lakes and lochs are some of the most beautiful in Europe and attract holidaymakers like bees to honey. Here are five of our favourites...

Coniston Water, Lake District

The history of Coniston Water is intertwined with the fascinating but ultimately tragic story of Donald Campbell and his successive attempts to break the world water speed record. You can see why this location was chosen for the record attempt – the waters here are invariably calm and the lake is quieter than its neighbour at Windemere. 

Today, the lake remains one of the most picturesque corners of the Lake District, with many attracted by the stunning walks. The‘Old Man of Coniston’ towers majestically across the valley, offering a stunning vantage point to survey Coniston and the beautiful fells beyond.

Lake Windermere, Lake District

Perhaps the most famous of Cumbria’s many and varied lakes, Windermere is the largest freshwater lake in England and has been one of the country’s most popular places for holidays and summer homes since the arrival of the Kendal and Windermere Railway's branch line in 1847.

Regular boat trips from the bustling Bowness are a leisurely way to take in the natural surroundings, with the expansive lake flanked by mature wooded hillsides alongside its 11-mile length. Ambleside, just a mile from the northern shore is a fascinating stopping point with quant shops and delicious eateries.

Loch Lomond, Scotland

The bonny banks o’Loch Lomond” so the song goes, and with good reason, Loch Lomond is renowned for its stunning beauty. This is an exquisite fresh water loch that effectively marks the border between the Lowlands and the Highlands. 

Set within the Trossachs National Park, Loch Lomond is very accessible to Scotland’s major cities of Glasgow and Edinburgh. Boasting a world class golf course, possibly one of the most scenic in the country, Loch Lomond has a lot offer sports enthusiasts with canoeing, wakeboarding and hill walking some of the local favourites.

Loch Ness, Scotland

Containing more fresh water than all of the lakes in England and Wales combined, Loch Ness is best known for the alleged sightings of Nessie, the mysterious reptilian monster first ‘spotted’ eighty years ago this year. Loch Ness is part of a series of water channels, including the Caledonian Canal, that follows a natural fault line through the dramatic heart of the Scottish Highlands. 

It is overlooked by the dramatic ruins of Urquhart Castle, which have looked across the shores of Loch Ness for seven centuries. If your visit coincides with a day when Nessie is feeling shy, don’t worry, the surrounding glens are home to fascinating variety of wildlife include red (as well as roe) deer, osprey and pine martins. 

Lake Bala, North Wales

Lake Bala, or Llyn Tegid as it is known in Welsh, sits proudly in the Snowdonia National Park and lies just a short distance from the town from which it takes its name. 

The largest natural lake in Wales, Lake Bala joins with the fast flowing River Dee making this area a premier destination for fishing with salmon, trout and grayling tempting anglers from throughout the country. 

The rolling countryside and numerous other lakes in the area also mean that this part of Wales is favoured by cyclists, pony trekkers and walkers. Guided walks and cycle hire are available with routes following the lake and extending beyond into some of the most scenic countryside in Britain.

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