Is travelling on the tube with a buggy (and a backpack) as awful as I think it might be...?

(39 Posts)
babysaurus Thu 06-Sep-12 23:32:42

I am travelling from Leeds to Brixton so need to get the Victoria Line from Kings Cross to Brixton. I lived in London 7 years ago but never travelled with a buggy (my DS is only 14 weeks so this is understandable) so obviously never took note of now accessible etc things are.
So, in short, is it going to be a bouncing up and down stairs logistical nightmare or not actually as bad as I think...? I'll be getting there Saturday afternoon and coming back Monday at 2pm (so hopefully avoiding rush hours, as much as you can under the circumstances.)

sh77 Fri 07-Sep-12 00:16:08

You will be fine! It is scary the first time but I find that people are very helPful with mothers. If nobody offers with stairs, ask someone. Get someone to hold front of buggy when going down escalators. There is an app called mumderground, which tells you if there is a lift, number of stairs and journey planner.

sh77 Fri 07-Sep-12 00:18:03

On the train from Leeds, find which coach has the wheelchair spot so that you can park pram there if no wheelchair.

FiveRingsForDinner Fri 07-Sep-12 00:23:41

I don't find London too hard with a buggy.

I tend to 'wear' a sling & pop the baby in if it's an awkward spot (e.g. Bank, Swiss Cottage) - & then ask the nearest tattooed person to carry my buggy - but that's just caution.

captainbarnacle Fri 07-Sep-12 00:38:33

I was in London last week with DS3 (and his brothers) who is 14m. I had a fold up buggy with a handle, and a sling. This meant I could go back and forth and change on the tube without having to rely on anyone to help - though a lovely Dad did carry the buggy on the escalators for me near the Nat Hist Museum (thank you!).

You'll be fine!

ZuleikaD Fri 07-Sep-12 17:34:31

I've done it with a buggy & backpack but with a foldup buggy and wore DD in a sling for the escalator/on and off Tube parts, carrying the buggy. I can definitely recommend the carrying option, and travel in non-peak hours obv.

VeremyJyle Fri 07-Sep-12 17:37:22

Don't worry you'll be fine, I used to do double Maclaren + backpack all the time (from North to South via Kings Cross and London Bridge) people help and as for the ones that tut, stuff them - they were babies once. I am always smiling at the amount of youngsters who help, then say their mums have babies smilesmile

NellyBluth Fri 07-Sep-12 21:34:35

You'll be fine, I promise!

Kings Cross is a little bit confusing (did it today with a buggy and ended up in the wrong lift!) but that's purely because it has a lot of tube lines going through it so there are different lifts to different lines, but there are plenty of maps by the lifts explaining which one you need to be in to get to which line, and lots of station staff. And at the moment there are posters and stickers everywhere showing where the lifts are because of the Olympics, which is helpful.

Brixton definitely has a lift from the street level down to the ticket hall, so I'm pretty certain it also has a lift down to the platform too, otherwise that would just be really odd...

firawla Fri 07-Sep-12 21:41:13

dont worry if you have lifts at both ends in those stations anyway so it will be really easy! (presuming nelly is right about the lifts at brixton, i never go there but kings x is totally steps free)
but even if you have to do stairs its not too bad, if your buggy is quite lightweight you can even pick the whole thing up with your ds in it and carry it down? shouldnt be too bad as he is 14 weeks cant be that heavy! also people are generally happy to help, so you will be alright

FeersumEndjinn Fri 07-Sep-12 21:43:24

You'll be OK - I'm not a londoner but I managed london a few times with a buggy without anything terrible happening - each staircase you come to, if you start with the bumping up/down 8 times out of 10 some random passer by will grab the other end and help you.

Ignore the "no pushchairs on the escalators" signs - everyone takes the buggy on the escalator, just hang on really really tight!

The only bit to really avoid is trying to squeeze on to a crowded tube at rush hour with a buggy. If you can't avoid travelling at rush hour, don't attempt to get on the first train - watch carefully to spot where the less croded carriages are and where the doors stop so that you can be first on to the second train.

AngelDog Fri 07-Sep-12 21:43:31

I find it okay, unless the lift breaks or doesn't exist. However, I've mostly done it with a 2 stone toddler who's not confident on stairs without holding my hand, is terrified of escalators and won't let anyone else help him.

babysaurus Fri 07-Sep-12 21:51:18

Thank you for the replies!
I am not travelling during rush hours so at least that side of things may make things easier (I arrive Saturday afternoon and head back Monday afternoon). I was not sure about the stairs / lift options at both Kings Cross and Brixton but that looks as if it will be okay.
I have a massive (borrowed) Quinny buggy - three wheeler thingy - which I hate (but its great when I am out with the dog due to the big bouncy wheels and good suspension). I was thinking that, worst case scenario, I can just harrass a member of staff to help me (would have no qualms doing so) but am glad to read that it may be fine to do it all on my own!
Having a baby is making me see London in a totally different light!

tribpot Fri 07-Sep-12 21:59:21

It's nowhere near as bad as doing it with a toddler in a pushchair and a man in a wheelchair - but you'll have to take my word for that smile

About halfway down the Getting Around page on the TfL website you can download the step-free Tube guide. This may be a bit overkill for your needs, which is essentially to find out if there are lifts at Kings X (answer: yes, although be prepared to walk further than you think possible to find the right one for your line) and Brixton (answer: also yes, hurrah!) but handy for any further exploring.

NellyBluth Fri 07-Sep-12 22:03:09

God, yes, tribot that's the best way of putting it to describe Kings Cross. The new station has MILES of corridors, OP you will probably be looking at 15 minutes to get the station to the tube platform.

tribpot Fri 07-Sep-12 23:25:45

NellyBluth - on the plus side, the route to the lift is so far out of the bloody way that at least it's not too crowded, at least from what I recall. Also OP, make sure you go into the newer bit of the mainline station to see the AMAZING new roof, you will need a treat before tackling the underground with a buggy! (When I got the train down from Leeds a few weeks ago it came in on one of the older platforms, I could easily have missed the new roof bit if I hadn't known to look out for it).

kateemo Fri 07-Sep-12 23:31:28

Don't bother asking a member of staff! I did and was told that they couldn't help because they are not insured. AUGH. Honestly, I had my then 7wo in a sling and 2yo in buggy with no lift in the station. I waited for a good samaritan to help at both ends. Thankfully, there are lots of those.

NellyBluth Sat 08-Sep-12 08:02:48

Kateemo, that's awful. But I do think it is a little difficult for them, someone somewhere must have dropped a buggy with a baby in and now they are extra cautious. At my train station the staff are helpful but I have to carry DD while they carry the pushchair. I do wish good samaritans would offer more help though. DP has no help lugging the buggy around the other day, I can well imagine people thinking 'oh, its a man, he won't need any help'...

You will be fine! I would only add that if possible, put the rucksack on back to front whilst on the tube to avoid being turtle like and banging it into people.

FiveRingsForDinner Sat 08-Sep-12 08:49:20

Yes - don't waste your breath asking staff - they really are forbidden to help - but good Samaritans are plenty. I wasn't being facetious when I said target the guy with the tattoos and scary hair cuts - ESP if they're with a girl friend. They seem to be much more helpful than 'suits'.

NellyBluth Sat 08-Sep-12 08:52:06

Fiverings, it was the same when I was pregnant - the teenager in a hoody with his jeans falling down and an obscene t-shirt on was always the first to leap to his feet and offer me a seat. Other mums without their kids are always helpful too as they know what a pita it is with a pushchair.

Grumpla Sat 08-Sep-12 09:00:57

So when you say buggy you're talking about a Quinny buzz or some such? I really wouldn't. Can't you borrow a folding umbrella buggy or a sling? Or ideally both?

I wouldn't think it would be safe to use a Quinny buzz on the escalators. They are so heavy and wide.

I have done plenty of tube trips with a folding buggy with a shoulder strap, a rucksack, and baby in a sling. Then the only thing you're likely to drop is a lightweight buggy or a bag.

Even better if you can manage just with a sling and a wheely case / shopping trolly.

DilysPrice Sat 08-Sep-12 09:28:17

Good luck.

Brixton definitely has lifts (one from platform to ticket hall and one from ticket hall to street) but they are frequently out of order so cross your fingers that they're working or hope for Good Samaritans.

sarahmade Sun 09-Sep-12 19:26:24

You will be fine. I have done this journey a few times with a buggy and a rucksack. The Victoria line is one of the best as there are buggy spaces in pretty much every carriage. There are lifts at both end but if for any reason you do have to go up steps you will find that on the whole people are really helpful. Don't be afraid to ask either. Good luck!

NellyJob Sun 09-Sep-12 19:28:36

You will be fine, people will help you, just not the staff, they are not permitted to do so.

jkklpu Sun 09-Sep-12 19:29:46

you have lots of station-specific advice
Mine would be that it will be very hot and your stress/heavy load will make you hotter, so make sure you have some water left after your train journey.

babysaurus Sun 09-Sep-12 20:21:25

Thanks all!
Grumpla yes it is a Quinny Buzz, but I can't borrow a smaller one as nobody has one, their babies are all bigger so they can use strollers (or whatever the proper term is.) I can't do much about that really.
Good to know the Victoria Line has lots of buggy places. Things like that are the kind of things I have never taken notice of before as I never needed to.
Sure it'll be fine, after all I can't be the only buggy laden tube user in the world can I?! I guess I wanted reassurance as it's, so far, unchartered territory.
Thanks again!

Woodlands Mon 10-Sep-12 11:09:04

Brixton and King's Cross both have full step-free access so this should be fine. But even if you end up at stations without lifts (or if lifts are out of order) don't panic. Plenty of us take buggies of all sizes on escalators and after the first couple of times it's a breeze. Just wheel straight on - if you're going down then place the back wheels at the back of a step so you can hold them against the step with the front wheels in mid air. Going up, just wheel on but be aware you will end up standing several steps further back (about four). You can either put the front wheels on a step and hold the back end up or rest the back wheels down too so that the baby is lying at a bit of an angle. It's not really any worse doing this with a big bulky buggy rather than a Maclaren - the only thing is that if it is very wide people may find it hard to pass on the escalator, but they'll just have to wait. If you get to a flight of stairs someone will help you - if no one offers just ask someone. People are (IME) always happy to help.

Good luck! You'll be fine.

babysaurus Mon 10-Sep-12 21:47:38

Thank you! All the encouragement is great! (BTW I am not wussy by nature, it's just that this is unchartered territory!)

I take the buggy all the time. I actually hate people helping but they always do, all the time.

I find sharing the weight if the buggy just too heavy and prefer to just bump bump up or down the stairs in my own time. I'm doing this whilst saying 'no thank you' to help offered by every other person hmm

brass Mon 10-Sep-12 21:54:00

Ditto people are helpful, DH and I always offer and don't be afraid to ask if you need to.

Iwillorderthefood Mon 10-Sep-12 21:56:59

Could you check out charity shops they always seem to have maclarens in? London is actually not bad to travel through with pram and least once in the Victoria line there are no changes. Sounds nuts but could you go on the escalators backwards as this would make pram more stable ( have seen people doing this and it seemed a bit odd but now it possibly makesn sense).

tribpot Mon 10-Sep-12 22:11:00

I have a Maclaren which you're welcome to borrow, but I think as your ds is so little (14 weeks?) you want something a bit more car-seaty? Do you actually need to take a buggy with you? Your ds could go in a sling, maybe?

oscarwilde Wed 12-Sep-12 14:18:03

If you do end up on an escalator, try not to go too close to the side of the steps (trying to get out of everyone's way). Just concentrate on getting on and off safely. There's a line of brush type stuff that runs down the side of the fixed sides and it's quite easy to get a wheel stuck between it and the moving staircase if they are just the right size. Makes a scary noise and sounds like the wheel is snapping off which is just what you don't need in central london.

NellyJob Wed 12-Sep-12 15:11:18

also, avoid rush hour if possible, sorry if that is stating the obvs.

babysaurus Wed 12-Sep-12 19:46:39

Tribot, that's very kind but I think DS is still too little and floppy for something where he has to sit up.
I was thinking initially of just taking him in the kari-me sling as he loves it and generally goes to sleep. Also, the friends we are staying with have a buggy we could use when there (lined with organic sheepskins apparently!) but I have gone off the idea now as taking my buggy gives me the option of giving us both more space (ie he isnt having to be held constantly, which can, if he is tired, have the potential to make him ratty as we can't vanish into a dark quiet room like at home.) Also, as has been pointed out by my mother, I can hang things off the buggy as well as the buggy - the car seaty seat bit especially can be a bit protective IF it is a bit busy. I may use my friends when in Brixton though as mine, as I pointed out, is a bit wide and cumbersome.
Oscar I know there are brush thingys on the escalator, but have never needed to think about avoiding them until now. I think I would also be trying to keep to the side in case people wanted to walk past and hence would have come into contact with them, so thanks for pointing this out!

babysaurus Wed 12-Sep-12 19:48:46

Nelly I deliberately arranged the tickets to avoid rush hour (although I realise that it's always busy but I am working on damage limitation!). Get there, Kings Cross, at 4pm on Saturday and coming back at 1.35 on the Monday.

Tinymrscollings Thu 13-Sep-12 16:46:33

You'll be grand. I really wouldn't worry about your big pushchair if it makes life easier for the rest of your trip, people are generally really helpful. I take my full size pushchair on the tube all the time. Take your carrier for the escalator bit and you'll be fine. Oh, and remember forwards on and backwards off!

babysaurus Wed 19-Sep-12 20:40:03

Thanks everyone for your insights! As it was, it was a doddle! It took a bit longer than it would have done normally due to having to get lifts and take certain routes to them but that was it. No big deal at all, and yes you're all right - the most unlikely looking candidates are always the most helpful!

NellyBluth Wed 19-Sep-12 21:38:31

Glad it went well!

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