Visiting Santa by narrowboat

Last year, Sophie enjoyed taking a narrowboat ride to go and visit Santa. It was such a lovely way to see Santa that I decided to do it again this year for our family time in December. Last time, hubby and Sophie had the last two spaces on the boat trip. This time I was more organised and made sure I booked our trip early on so we could all enjoy it.


Sophie standing in front of a red narrowboat - "Visiting Santa by narrowboat"


Stepping down into the boat brought back memories of the narrowboat holidays that hubby and I went on before we had children. Maybe one day we’ll do it again with Sophie and Thomas. The inside of the narrowboat looked very festive with the tinsel around the windows and it was nice and cosy indoors. There were four family groups on board (including us) but it didn’t feel too much of a squash inside the boat and there was plenty of seating for us all.


Sophie sitting inside the narrowboat


The children headed out to the front of the boat to enjoy the views. Sophie enjoyed going up in the lock. Thomas was fast asleep for the first half of the journey, enjoying a cuddle in Daddy’s arms inside the boat.


Sophie standing at the front of the narrowboat with the canal in the background


There was tea and coffee plus a mince pie for the adults on board, while the children had some squash and a gingerbread biscuit each. It was lovely to meander along the canal, watching the coots and the ducks and the world just going by. Christmas is always such a busy time and often feels very hectic. This kind of Santa trip is a wonderful way to slow down for a while; to breathe and enjoy Christmas at a slower pace.


We turned around at the winding hole and headed back to Santa’s Grotto which was just before the lock. There was a little wait before we could moor up as the boat before us was still there. Sophie was very eager to see Santa, and wanted to be the first off the boat, but we reassured her that the boat wouldn’t leave before all the children had visited Santa and there was no rush! As it turned out, we were each called in to see Santa by one of the elves and it made no difference who was first or last off the boat.


Hubby and Sophie outside Santa's Grotto


Thomas had woken up by this point. He seemed a little bemused about where he was when he first woke up. It’s the first time he’s been on a narrowboat and he wasn’t too sure what to make of it at first. Trying to have a little walk inside a moving boat was a good way for him to practice his balance though!


Like the rest of the trip, getting to see Santa was leisurely. Sophie had plenty of time to chat to Santa about what she was hoping he would bring her for Christmas. I liked the fact that it felt very unhurried. We had our photo taken by the elf and this was then printed out for us to take home. I was a little disappointed by the poor quality of the photo, which was very over-exposed. I never expect these kinds of photos to be good quality, especially as they’re taken under difficult lighting conditions. However, a little bit of basic photography training would go a long way towards creating a reasonable photo instead of a poor one. I’ve played around a bit with my photo of it and managed to improve it though.


The photo of me, hubby, Sophie (holding Jessica's photo) and Thomas with Santa


Outside, the naughty elf tried to steal Sophie’s present by holding it for her as she got back on the boat and hiding it up his jumper. He got a telling off from the other elf and Sophie got her present back! She opened it once we were back on the boat and was very happy with the sand art kit and flamingo egg that she received. We’ve had fun filling bottles with coloured sand and putting the egg in water to hatch.


Thomas standing on Daddy's knees at the front of the narrowboat with the canal in the background


Thomas enjoyed sitting out on the front of the boat with Daddy and Sophie as we headed back through the lock. We travelled a little further down the canal before the boat turned around once more and headed back to the start point.


Hubby, Sophie and Thomas at the front of the narrowboat as it exits the lock


It was lovely to watch Sophie and Thomas together at the front of the boat. They are so loving with each other. Just like Jessica and Sophie were together. My big girl would have loved this trip too.


Hubby, Sophie and Thomas at the front of the narrowboat with Sophie giving Thomas a high-five

Hubby, Sophie and Thomas at the front of the narrowboat with Sophie giving Thomas a kiss


About Hillingdon Narrowboats 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.


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6 thoughts on “Visiting Santa by narrowboat

  1. Oh this is such a lovely idea! We used to love narrowboat holidays pre-children too. It’s a shame about the photo but the presents sound nice and I bet it was a relaxing way to visit Santa.

    1. Thank you Nat. It was a lovely way to visit Santa, and at least I managed to improve the photo with a bit of editing!

  2. What a lovely relaxing day and a gorgeous sunset by the look of your photos. I think I remember reading about your trip last year. I imagine Thomas was very confused on waking – my brother would have been terrified, he spent his childhood afraid of Santa’s beard!! Have a great Christmas and see you in 2020 #CountryKids

    1. He was a bit confused, bless him. Father Christmas can be scary for little ones. Thankfully Thomas has been ok with him so far. Hope you have a lovely Christmas x

  3. What a lovely afternoon outing! I’ve never been on a narrowboat, but would love to give it a try some time. Best wishes for the new year xx #CountryKids

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