Who knew Whitchurch could offer a sense of the Mediterranean on a beautiful summer’s day?! Well welcome to Alderford Lake! Privately owned, it’s open all year round and is great for wild swimming, a gentle walk or just a scenic coffee. It’s at its best in the summertime when it’s a perfect alternative to the beach on a hot day.
Entry prices can be found here and vary depending on whether you are swimming/not swimming or taking a craft out onto the water. Booking can be done online and on a boiling hot day I would advise it as they do have a maximum capacity and it’s not unusual for them to stop further entries from walk-ins by midday.
There’s a lovely cafe which has been recently refurbished and the food is lovely although it’s a very limited menu for children - just a range of sandwiches or ham, egg and chips. Otherwise it’s a great place for a picnic or they often have outside food vendors come on certain days.
The circuit around the lake makes for a really pleasant walk. It’s about 0.8 of a mile long on a flat grass path so takes about 20/25 minutes.
For the children there’s a great little playground near the cafe which has some good wooden play equipment, a slide and a tunnel.
The other play area is a bit hard to find but loads of fun. Head in an anticlockwise direction round the lake from the cafe (with the cafe on your right), you’ll come to a big white marque, pass that and dip down to the left towards the edge of the lake then look for a small path on your right hand side about 10 meters on. Up there hidden amongst the trees is a natural play area with a swing, scramble net, tree house and various ropes. The kids really really enjoy playing in here so this is an absolute must and if you’re swimming in the lake it makes for a nice break for them in between swims.
If you want to visit outside of summer then I think a walk, play and coffee/picnic would still be great fun and definitely worth a visit. But of course if the weather is good then you’ll want to swim in that beautiful lake of theirs!
Obviously before I delve into the delights of the lake, be aware that open water swimming is very different to swimming in a pool so great care must be taken!! Buoyancy aids would be a good option for kids, especially if they’re venturing further out into the lake. For safety, children aged 13-16 years must be supervised by an adult and children 12 and under must have an adult swimming with them in the water. You’ll be asked to fill in a waiver (this can be done online) to ensure you’ve understood the T&Cs.
There are plenty of shallow areas to enter from around the edge of the lake and this is where you’ll find most of the families camp for the day. It’s worth noting that there are no little beaches which you might find on some lakes, rather you just step down from the grass straight into the water, so for toddlers it might not be as much fun as the beach but they can still have a good splash around. But for bigger kids who can swim well there’s plenty of fun to be had!
It seems that the world and his wife have gone out and bought paddle boards, or ‘SUP’s as they are known (Stand Up Paddleboards, in case you were wondering). The lake is full of them, not to mention Dinghy’s (the classic 80’s blue and yellow design still seems ever popular), inflatable canoes, body boards and even unicorn lillos. Indeed anything that floats will make an appearance and it definitely adds to the kids fun. However if you don’t have anything at home you can hire Paddleboards, canoes and kayaks at Alderford, prices can be found here.
As for the temperature, yes it’s cold and a wetsuit is the best option. But if you have gathered anything from reading my recommendations on here you’ll know that Mrs AOTG is extremely fair weathered and even I have been in without a wet suit, albeit on boiling hot days!!
New for 2021 is the toilet block, which can be found next to the cafe.
Dotted around the lake are jetties which all the kids love jumping off, it’s probably their favourite thing about the lake, it’s also a good ploy to get them to walk round the lake in search of the jetties!
Throughout the year there’s various events running, such as firework displays, markets, a maize maze, open air theatre, the list goes on, you can even buy plants and get married here, though not in that order, so it’s worth looking on their facebook page to see what they’re up to.
As an aside, I have succumbed with the masses and bought a paddle board so if you see someone looking extremely unconfident out there, it’ll be me. Best give me a wide berth.