An October morning and mist swirls across the water’s surface. Micro-droplets cloak the rowdy avian inhabitants, whose cacophony of calls fills the air. Interspersed between the usual watery cronks and quacks are the gull-like whistling shree of the wigeon and the raven-like squawk of the scaup.


You could visit Llangorse Lake at any time of year and be encapsulated by its beauty, but it's in autumn, as the overwintering birds arrive in their thousands, that it may just be at its most enchanting.

Frosty winter Llangorse Lake
In winter, Llangorse Lake maintains its beauty as the trees become enveloped in frost/Credit: Getty

An air of Arthurian magic fills the air around a replica crannog platform, with its wooden boardwalk thrusting into the 137 hectares of Llyn Syfaddon, or Llangorse Lake, to give it its English name.

To the east lies the sheltering broad-shouldered Mynydd Llangorse (515m), and to the south-west are the famous Brecon Beacon peaks of Pen y Fan and Cribyn.

Brecon Beacons National Park

Wildlife at Llangorse Lake

This glacial body of water is eutrophic, meaning it is rich in minerals and nutrients. Fish and other organisms thrive, making Llangorse a popular feeding ground for waterfowl and waders.

As winter approaches, the lake becomes a service station on the migratory motorway. Our native birds, such as pintails, wigeons, teals, snipes and shovelers, are joined by others that overwinter here, as well as those passing through. Scottish-breeding goldeneyes drop south here during colder months, and Icelandic godwits arrive from mid-October.

Water birds
These extravagantly headdressed divers are famous for their spectacular walking-on-water mating displays between February and May/Credit: Getty

Llangorse Lake crannog

Llangorse’s crannog is the only one found anywhere in England or Wales. These fortified dwellings built on wooden platforms seemingly float on the water’s surface, and are typically found in Scotland or Ireland. The Welsh Crannog Centre’s replica provides a perfect bird-spotter’s vantage point to glimpse great crested grebes, cormorants, great white egrets, Canada geese, mandarins, herons and more.

Opposite the toilets in the main car park, a one-mile trail heads across Llangorse Common and around the lake’s western shore. This open field habitat is ideal for watching lapwings, redwings and, in summer, hobbies in flight.

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Canada geese at sunset
Canada geese visit the lake for winter/Credit: Getty

Exploring Llangorse

The trail’s highlight is Llangasty bird hide. Opened in 2012 by HRH The Prince of Wales, it hovers above the reeds, perfect for spotting kingfishers, water rails and our rarest breeding duck, scaups. Hold out until dusk for sublime starling murmurations, which can include tens of thousands of birds.


Finally, beware of Gorsey, the lake monster, mentioned in a 15th-century poem, who reputedly preys upon those who fall into the water.


Simon Whaley
Simon WhaleyAuthor, writer and photographer

Simon Whaley is a Shropshire-based author, writer, and photographer.