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Days Out, Motherhood

Bala Lake Wales – top tips for family day trips

Bala Lake from the shoreline.

I am a big fan of those family days where you rock up, pay for parking and enjoy the whole day without putting your hand back in your wallet. Bala Lake, in Wales, is one of those destinations. If you’re visiting with your family, then here’s everything you need to know to have a great day.

But where is Bala Lake?

The first thing you need to know if you’re visiting Bala Lake, is that it’s also referred to as Lake Bala and Llyn Tegid (which is its Welsh name). It is located in Gwynedd and its one of the most popular lakes in Wales. Bala os the largest natural lake in Wales.

The lake itself is in Snowdonia National Park and its surrounded by mountains, so it certainly has the wow factor. The River Dee feeds this body of water, which is 3.7 miles long and 0.5 miles wide.

Tips to make the most of your day

This is a lovely spot to visit with the family and you could easily spend the whole day there. If you decide to visit, you’ll want to make the most of your time. Here are some tips to make the most of it:

1) Park in right spot – near the railway station

The best place to park if you want to spend the day at Bala Lake is near Llangower Station. There are toilets there and you can walk straight down the the river bank. The car park costs £6 for the full day, or £3 for half a day. Use the postcode: LL23 7BY.

The railway station is a 5-minute drive form Llanuwchllyn and a 10-minute drive from Bala town centre. Don’t be surprised if the sat nav takes you away from Bala itself, as the town lies north of the lake

2) Arrive early

Bala Lake is a popular spot, especially on sunny days, so you’ll need to arrive early to get a parking spot and to ensure that you can set up camp in a decent location.

3) Take rubbish bags

There are no bins at Bala Lake, so take a bin bag or two and make sure you take them home afterwards.

4) Take toilet roll and sanitary products

There are toilets near the car park, but as the day goes on, the toilet roll disappears. So make sure you take a roll with you. You can’t buy sanitary products in the toilets either, so make sure you take some with you if you’re expecting your period.

5) Avoid going in Bala Lake if you spot blue-green algae

There are warnings around the car park, explaining that if you see toxic blue-green algae, you must avoid the water. Humans and pets alike can get very poorly if they ingest blue-green algae, as it’s highly toxic. So if you see a lot of it around the edges of the lake, then avoid the water. If you ingest it, you could end up with skin irritations, a fever, muscle aches, sickness and diarrhea, so it really isn’t worth it.

The blue algae does tend to move around though, so keep checking the water, as you may find that the water clears up as the day progresses.

6) Hunt for free-flowing streams

Although you shouldn’t go swimming in the lake water if you spot algae, the kids can still paddle in one of the streams that runs from the main lake. Just look for moving water. You shouldn’t spot any blue-green algae in these areas, as it doesn’t tend to gather where there’s moving, fresh water.

7) Take some water-skin shoes

The shoreline around Bala Lake is full of stones and pebbles. So if you’d like to paddle, swim, or even paddleboard or kayak in the water, then you’ll need to take some water-skin shoes to protect your feet. Kids could get away with jelly shoes, but they certainly shouldn’t attempt to go in barefoot.

8) Watch the Welsh steam train

If you park at Llangower Station, then you’ll have to cross the train track to get to the lake. You could decide to get on the Bala Lake railway, but if you’ve gone for a day by the lake, it might not be  practical.

During the summer, regular steam locomotives pass through the station. So listen out of the steam engines throughout the day and take the kids up to the platform to wave as the steam engine passes. You should have enough time to walk up to the platform if you set off as soon as you hear the locomotive on the track.

9) Take plenty to eat and drink

There are no shops or cafes close to this part of the lake, so make sure you’ve got plenty of supplies if you decide to visit. You can use a barbeque on the stones, but obviously you need to clean up after yourself. And remember, there are no bins.

10) Decent camping chairs are a must

If you’re planning to spend the day at the lake, then you’ll need to bring a good set of camping chairs. Most of the river bank is made up of stones and pebbles, so it isn’t particularly comfortable to sit on and you certainly wouldn’t want to spend the day perched on stones.

11) Follow the rules if you take your dog

If you do decide to take your dog, then being respectful of other lake-goers is a given. But it is especially important to keep your dog on the lead in this area, because if they start to pester the nearby live stock, then the farmer can lawfully shoot at your dog. So keep your dog in your eyeline at all times and make sure they don’t go near the water if you can see blue-green algae.

12) Think about privacy

Although there are public toilets near the car park, Bala Lake doesn’t have any changing facilities. This means that you’ll have to bring a changing robe if you want to get changed in privacy. You might also want to set up a small tent if you’re visiting with babies; as there’s no baby-change facilities. A small tent would also provide an area for little babies to nap.

13) Make sure you shower afterwards

I know it goes without saying, but if you do swim in the water, then make sure you shower when you get home. You should always do that if you’ve been in wild water, but it especially important if blue-green algae has been spotted in the area.

Tips for fun family day trips at Bala Lake

Is it worth visiting this tourist spot in Wales?

Bala Lake is definitely worth a visit. If you arrive early and pack the right supplies, then you’ll be able to spend a full, fun-filled day there.

Is Tomen y Bala Castle near Llyn Tegid?

Tomen y Bala Castle is another name you may see reference. I t might sounds grand, but you shouldn’t go expecting a lavish castle like the one you’ll find in Conway. This Roman fort does have stories to tell, but geographically it looks like a hill. If you do decide to visit whilst you’re in the area, it’s a 5-minute drive from the lake.

If you enjoyed this article, then my top tips for hiking with a baby or toddler may also be of interest.