Tag Archives: Gower’s Well.


There is a Welsh couplet, still well known in the neighbourhood of beautiful Bala Lake in Merionethshire, Wales, which, translated into English, runs:

“Bala old the lake has had, and Bala new
The lake will have, and Llanfor, too.”

For there is an ages-old belief in the countryside that Bala will continue to grow bigger until it has swallowed up the village of Llanfor, now about a couple of miles from the water’s edge.

According to the old story the site of the original town is near the middle of the present lake, at a spot opposite Llangower. There, years and years ago, a peaceful community lived a happy, prosperous life in their houses clustering around a well called Ffynnon Gwyer, or Gower’s Well.

Only one very important thing had these long-ago people to remember, and that was to cover up their well every night, otherwise, as they knew from their fathers and grandfathers before them, the spirit of the well would grow angry with them and wreak some dire punishment upon them.

But one night, after some special festivities, the guardian of the well forgot his task. Too late this omission was discovered, for as soon as the last inhabitant was in bed, the well began to gush forth water.

Soon the whole village was in a state of alarm. The quickly rising waters began to flow into the cottages, and young and old rushed to Ffynnon  Gower, which they realised was the cause of their distress. There they saw a great stream of water gushing upward. In their anger they called upon the negligent guardian, but he, seeing the harm that had come of his forgetfulness, had fled, though it is said he did not escape the angry waters, for they overtook him and drowned him miserably.

A frenzied effort was made to cover up the well and stop the unwelcome flow, but it was useless, and the people of old Bala had to escape as best they could to higher ground. When morning broke they looked out to where their homes had been and saw, instead of their fields and houses, a great lake three miles long and a mile wide.

To-day the lake is five miles long; and they say that on clear days, when its surface is absolutely calm, you may see at the bottom, off Llangower, the ruins and chimneys of the old town that was overwhelmed so long ago.

And, as the old couplet tells, they say too that the spirit of Gower’s Well is not yet appeased. On stormy days water appears to ooze up through the ground at new Bala, which is built at the lower end of the lake, and some day they believe that too will be swamped and the waters will cover the valley as far down as Llanfor.

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