It's hard to believe but did you know that over thirty million days of holiday entitlement weren't taken by UK workers in 2014? Who are these dedicated employees?! Not only that but billions of pounds worth of loyalty points were unclaimed as well. The experiences these workaholics are missing out on! I mean, put the two together, and you could have the most fantastic days out, or even holidays. And we could all do with more of those in our lives, couldn't we?
Well, I don't have to look too far from home for someone that doesn't take his holiday allowance each year. In fact, I live with him. During these summer holidays, Paul's managed to take a grand total of two days off. Two days! But, after browsing the Avios website, and seeing we had potentially earned close to 30,000 points in the past year (here's the calculator if you want to check out how many you could have earned), I persuaded him to take a third off so we could head out with the boys on a family steam train experience.
I'll be honest, left to my own devices, I may have been inclined to spend those points on a deluxe spa weekend for two, a vineyard experience (I adore British wine), or return flights for a weekend in Amsterdam. But no, with my two little cherubs firmly at the forefront of my mind, a railway adventure it was!
Last Thursday, on probably the only day of the week that didn't rain (how lucky were we?!), we packed a picnic and headed to Bala Lake Railway, somewhere I haven't been since I was little despite it being just an hour away and set in one of the most beautifully scenic parts of North Wales.
You can start your railway journey from Bala itself but my advice would be to head a little bit further on to Llanuwchllyn station where there's plenty of parking, and where the trains actually start and finish their days. You can book in advance or on the day if you'd prefer to check the weather forecast before venturing out (some of the carriages are open so I think it has the potential to be quite a miserable experience if it's wet and you're a fair-weathered type of person). A family ticket (two adults + two children) costs £24 and for that you get the most amazing nine mile return trip alongside beautiful Bala Lake through Snowdonia National Park. I'm Welsh so I could be ever so slightly bias, but my goodness, it's stunning.
There's various departure times throughout the day. We did the whole trip in one go and then popped to Betws-y-Coed for the afternoon (another amazing place to visit if you're in the area ... it's the official gateway to Snowdon, too). However, if you're not in any rush, I'd suggest taking the train from Llanuwchllyn to Bala and then popping in to the town for a mooch around and tea and bara brith (fruit loaf) at one of the lovely coffee shops before heading back for the return journey. After all, you're on a day out so what's the rush?
We had such a great day. I loved the reminder of how amazing this country we live in is, Paul 'enjoyed' having his attempts to pronounce Welsh place names corrected (not really but I couldn't help myself), my littlest adored the steam train and has demanded that we return next week ... I agreed, and my eldest enjoyed the plentiful picnic. It was just the most perfect #AviosAdventure on the railway.
Disclaimer: The post was written in collaboration with Avios. Quick, go check out what experiences you could be missing out on.