A festive narrowboat trip to Santa’s Grotto

One of my many happy memories from summer last year was our walk along Hatton locks. The girls had a wonderful time helping a boat through some of the locks. Hubby and I considered taking them on a narrowboat holiday at Easter but decided against it, partly because of our concerns about Jessica’s health at the time. Sadly we’ll never get to have that narrowboat holiday with Jessica. I am glad though that she did get to experience a ride on a narrowboat a couple of times. When I discovered that Hillingdon Narrowboats Association were running Santa boat trips, I thought this sounded like something that Sophie would enjoy.


Sophie and hubby on the towpath next to a narrowboat - "A festive narrowboat trip to Santa's Grotto"


I only just found out in time to book a trip though. There were just two spaces left on the boat for the day we wanted. It meant that hubby and Sophie could enjoy some daddy-daughter time while I got to have a lovely walk along the tow path with Thomas. I’d have loved to have joined in on the boat ride too but on the plus side, it meant I could take photos of Sophie on the boat from the outside while hubby took photos from the inside!


Sophie standing at the front of the boat


The boat that Sophie and hubby was on was Spirit. This is a wheelchair accessible boat with a lift taking passengers down into the boat.  Once Sophie and hubby were on the boat, I wandered down to the lock to wait for them there. It was a beautiful cool sunny morning. There were a few kayakers out on the canal as well as some ducks and swans.


Inside the boat, hubby and Sophie listened to the safety briefing and ordered some hot chocolate. Sophie made her way to the front of the boat with the other children to get the best views of their trip along the canal.


Sophie with her hot chocolate inside the boat


She soon spotted me and Thomas waiting at the lock and gave us a wave. We’ve watched narrowboats go through locks many times. This was the first time Sophie had been in the boat going through the lock though. She was quite fascinated by the water coming in and filling the lock.


Sophie standing at the front of the narrowboat in the lock


The boat then continued along the canal for a short distance before turning around. The trip along the canal took around half an hour. In the meantime, I enjoyed a leisurely stroll, admiring the houses along the edge of the canal. I’m not sure I could ever be minimalist enough to live on a narrowboat. The thought of owning one and having it moored at the end of the garden certainly appeals though!


Me with Thomas in the sling standing on the towpath next to the Grand Union Canal


The sky had clouded over and started to look like it was going to rain by the time the boat reappeared. Thomas had fallen asleep in the sling as I watched the boat make its way back. This time it stopped just before the lock for the children to visit Santa’s Grotto where a couple of elves were waiting for them.


Sophie standing on the boat outside Santa's Grotto


Santa asked Sophie if she’d been good and what she wanted for Christmas. Sophie has been very consistent with her request this year and asked once again for “a Skye toy” (Skye from PAW Patrol). She received a gift from Santa’s sack and she and Daddy posed for a photo before heading back to the boat.


Sophie talking to Santa


I thought Sophie would be at the front of the boat again for the journey back through the lock but all the children stayed inside this time. I suspect the presents were more appealing than watching the boat go up in the lock!


The narrowboat coming through the lock


It was a lovely trip on the boat for Sophie and hubby. I enjoyed my walk along the towpath too. It was such a nice relaxed festive day out. We’ll certainly try and do it again next year. I just have to remember to book a little earlier next time so we can all go on the boat!


Sophie waiting to go inside Santa's Grotto



About Hillingdon Narrowboat Association:

Hillingdon Narrowboats Association is a charity which aims to provide affordable narrowboating experiences. They own and operate six narrowboats and are based in Harefield, west London.


For more information click here.


Country Kids linky

6 thoughts on “A festive narrowboat trip to Santa’s Grotto

  1. Lovely Daddy-daughter time, though no doubt you’d loved to have been there and what a lovely idea for a Santa visit! I bet Sophie loved waving to you from the boat. Wild wishes for some peace and healing for you all in 2019 #CountryKids

    1. Thank you Lucy. It was a fab way to visit Santa, and one I’d definitely like to do again.

  2. Love this, just our cup of tea! we have been lucky enough to experience a Christmas story telling session on a canal boat, but to take a little trip would be amazing. #CountryKids

  3. Special for Sophie to have time just with her daddy – I’m always conscious of how infrequently my children get my full, undivided attention. Looks like a really festive day out. #countrykids

    1. It is hard to get that one-to-one time sometimes. It was nice for Sophie to have that time with her daddy.

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