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Sitting within Brecon Beacons National Park, Llangorse Lake stands as the largest natural lake in South Wales and second largest in the principality of Wales. Also found under the names Llangors Lake, Lake Syfaddan, and Lyn Syfaddan, the lake has long been noted for its diversity of plant and animal species. This Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Special Area of Conservation (SAC) is also a popular recreational lake. Located in the county of Powys, eight miles east of the town of Brecon and west of the scenic Black Mountains, visitors to Llangorse Lake enjoy sailing, windsurfing, canoeing, kayaking and water-skiing.
Evidence of Lake Syfaddan's ancient history can be seen off the lake's northern shore. The remains of a small man-made island, called a crannog, rise above the water's surface. Believed to have been built around 889-893 A.D., the island was likely a defensive settlement for the Welsh kingdom of Brycheiniog. Remaining archaeological evidence indicates that the settlement was destroyed by a Saxon attack in 916 A.D. During the 12th century Lake Syfaddan was visited by Giraldus Cambrensis (Gerald of Wales). Sent on a tour of Wales for the Arch Bishop of Canterbury, Gerald of Wales documented his 1188 journey. His chronicles remain a valuable record of Welsh history and include a reference to the abundance of waterfowl on Llangors Lake and a recounting of the legend that a city lies submerged on the bottom of Lyn Syfadden.
With an average depth of 7-to-10 feet (2-3 meters), a sunken city has not been seen from the surface of this shallow lake. Llangorse Lake is a glacially formed lake with a five mile (8 kilometers) shoreline, 327 acre (1.3 square kilometers) surface area and elevation of 505 feet (154 meters). Owned by Llangorse Lake Conservation and Management Co. Ltd., Langors Lake is one of few natural lakes in Britain. The lake's inflow is limited to small streams and seasonal rainfall amounts with winter being the wetter months. The small stream Afon Llynfi is the main outlet for Lyn Syfaddan, leaving the lake to the southwest of the village of Llangors forming part of the Brecon Beacons National Park boundary on its way to join the Wye River.
Approximately 25 acres (10 hectares) of reed beds, wet woodlands, and wet grasslands grow between Llangors Lake's open water and drier ground. During rainy seasons this area floods creating a rich marshy habitat that supports a wide variety of aquatic and marginal plant life. Rare and uncommon plants include flowering rush, tubular water dropwort, greater spearwort, fringed water lily, golden dock, amphibious bistort and meadow rue. Near the lake shore, floating water lilies mix with blooming native flora to greet visitors with a beautiful display of summer color.
Reed beds also create a vital habitat for birds. Portions of Llangorse Lake are restricted from public access, creating a sanctuary for birds to feed and breed. A bird hide is open to the public at the south end of Llangorse Lake where birdwatching has become a popular activity among holiday visitors. During the spring, terns and migrating osprey rest on the lake shore. Water rail, Canada geese, reed warblers, starlings, and large numbers of mute swans are found on Lyn Syfaddan through the summer months. Through the chilly winter, pochard, coot, goldeneye, an occasional smew, tufted ducks, teal, great crested grebe and hen harrier may be found.
A footpath circles much of the southern and western portions of Llangorse Lake, creating a leisurely stroll around the lake's protected wetlands. Visitors may start their trek from the small car park and picnic area found at the southern end of Lyn Syfaddan. Toward the northern shore visitors will find additional parking and access to recreational facilities. A caravan park, campground, sailing club, cafe, boats for hire, jetties and boat launching area are under private management. All boats are required to purchase a seasonal or daily lake permit. Restrictions apply to power boats used for water-skiing. Limited to posted dates and times, a maximum of 10 boats actively towing skiers will be allowed on the water at one time. Motorized boats are restricted to 5 miles per hour (8 kilometers per hour) unless towing or recovering a skier. Personal watercraft, hovercraft, hydrofoils and paragliding are prohibited.
Bank fishing is prohibited on Llangors Lake, so anglers will need to hire a boat if they do not bring their own. Known for quality pike fishing, Lake Syfaddan also holds a good supply of perch, roach, eel, carp, tench and bream. All anglers over age 17 are required to purchase a lake permit and have a fishing license from the Environment Agency. In an effort to protect habitat, boating exclusion zones must be avoided.
Llangorse Lake is surrounded by waterways, mountains and forests in Brecon Beacons National Park. Almost four million people visit the park each year. Fishing, driving, walking, trekking, cycling, caving, mountain biking, bird watching, photography and hang-gliding are listed among the more popular park activities. Within the park's 520 square miles (1347 square kilometers) several mountain ranges provide excellent walking and trekking opportunities. The Black Mountains lie east of Llangors Lake and offer numerous paths into the countryside including Offa's Dyke long-distance footpath following extensive eighth century earthworks. The Brecon Beacons range lies west of Llangorse Lake and includes Pen y Fan, the highest peak in southern Britain at 2907 feet (886 meters). The next range west is Fforest Fawr. A popular destination for trekers, cyclists and horse-riders, Fforest Fawr Geopark is the location of extensive archaeological and geological sites. Travel to the west end of Brecon Beacons National Park and you will find Black Mountain, not to be confused with the Black Mountains lying at the eastern end of the park. Fforest Fawr Geopark continues into Black Mountain and is considered to be one of the possible locations for the legendary Lady of the Lake.
Small hamlets, quaint villages and market towns dot this land of myth and legend. Approximately 40,000 people live within Brecon Beacons National Park with tourism driving much of their economy. Throughout the region visitors will find locally grown food served in traditional Welsh style, village retailers providing an irresistible assortment of shops, and visitor services to fill your every need. Here you can sleep among castle ruins, ancient standing stones or nature's splendor. Select from self catering holiday cottages, holiday homes, bed & breakfasts (B&Bs), camping on farms, or countryside real estate and begin your holiday near Llangorse Lake.
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