Mumsnet Logo
Please
or
to access all these features

Welcome to Mumsnet's holiday forum. Discuss all international travel here, including both shorthaul and longhaul trips. Related topics: UK holidays & day trips, skiing, camping & campervans.

Holidays

Canal boats and Toddlers - would you do it?

15 replies

xoz · 16/08/2004 21:12

We're thinking about taking a weekend break on a canal boat in the next month or so. Our dd's are 3.5 and 22 months. Has anyone else done this and if so what would be a good route to take for a 3 or 4 day break? We live in North Wilts.

OP posts:
Please
or
to access all these features

hercules · 16/08/2004 21:15

I would be too nervous. You'd never be able to take your eyes off them and I'd want to lock them in their rooms at night in case they went for a wander.

Please
or
to access all these features

pepsi · 16/08/2004 21:19

No, I wouldnt personally do it, its hard enough keeping an eye on children anyway, the worry would always be there. My husband suggested having our 4 years olds next party on a barge. Ive sent him for a check up at the doctors.............imagine looking after 10 or so of the little darlings on a boat!

Please
or
to access all these features

pepsi · 16/08/2004 21:19

No, I wouldnt personally do it, its hard enough keeping an eye on children anyway, the worry would always be there. My husband suggested having our 4 years olds next party on a barge. Ive sent him for a check up at the doctors.............imagine looking after 10 or so of the little darlings on a boat!

Please
or
to access all these features

xoz · 16/08/2004 21:22

lol at the idea of a barge pepsi. I had thought of the water issue. The websites all say that they have lifejackets for them and I know our dds would love wearing them, but I've also heard that sometimes it takes 2 to operate the locks so then we'd have to tie them onto something. I just wondered if it was possible or if it's too sill yto even contemplate.

OP posts:
Please
or
to access all these features

wellsie · 16/08/2004 21:24

xoz, I wouldn't do it until DD's are old enough to understand the dangers. You would never be able to relax unless you could strap them in!

Please
or
to access all these features

JJ · 16/08/2004 21:33

I asked about this with a company once and they said (well, she said, not sure her husband was of the same opinion) that anyone onboard who can't swim would be unsafe and not fun. She wouldn't do it at any rate.

Please
or
to access all these features

bighug · 16/08/2004 21:34

Well here's a positive post! We did this last September for a whole week. My daughter was 6 months and not crawling so it was ok to keep her contained. My son was almost 3. The scary thing was that the back was fairly open, just a platform with a rail at waist height which didn't even go all the way round. DS had a lifejacket on from the moment he opened his eyes in the morning, and sometimes had reins as well when outside with my DH steering etc. We also rigged up a net from the rail to the platform so in effect closing up the space. I was quite nervous for the first few days, but realised after a while that the precautions we were taking meant that it was all pretty safe. DD (6 months) quite often sat in her bouncy chair placed on the platform at the back too, and as long as I kept my foot on it I felt she was safe!
We were lucky with the weather and so I didn't suffer as much from cabin fever as I feared (I like to get out and about with my kids and don't really even like hanging round the house too much so the idea of being stuck inside a steamed up canal boat cabin filled me with dread). But we were able to be outside quite a lot of the time. For indoor entertainment I brought colouring and jigsaws, things you do sat at a table, and my 6m DD sat in a small plastic IKEA highchair a lot of the time with toys put out on the tray.
DS absolutely loved the holiday, loved the ropes, the locks, being on a boat, tunnels, bridges the ducks, swans etc. So I would recommend it, but it was not an easy holiday logistically (cooking, sterilising, getting them dressed all in confined spaces). We went on the Kennet and Avon canal which was good as there were not too many locks (quite a challenge) and we spend some time moored up at Bath (2 days in fact) which was a great break and a chance to walk around a bit!

Please
or
to access all these features

unicorn · 16/08/2004 21:35

if your kids are docile/obedient and not interested in investigating their surroundings, and you have another pair (or 2) or hands to help.. then yes.
Otherwise.. time to rethink, don't put yourself thorugh the stress.
(Although maybe you are laid back types and your kids are too- in which case.. you judge!)

Personally I would be in hell on a boat with my hyper kids - they'd be trying to dive in, and chase the ducks etc...

Please
or
to access all these features

edam · 16/08/2004 21:57

Canal holidays are fab with older kids ? think my dad first took us when we were 11 and 8 ? but toddlers may be a bit more difficult with that combination of wanting to explore/not understanding danger.
The difficult bit would be going through the locks. You need one adult to work the lock and one to steer the boat ? so who's keeping an eye on the kids? You can't let kids of 3.5 and 22 months out onto the bank around a lock unless you are holding their hands ? if they fall in there it is very dangerous.
And frankly locks can be hard work when you are doing them on your own. Dh and I borrowed my dad's boat for part of our honeymoon and I really hadn't realised how hard it is with just two of you ? and we didn't have kids to look after.
You might want to think about a stretch of canal with no locks - they do exist, ask one of the big companies like Black Prince, Ango Welsh.. a google search should bring more up. Think Hoseasons also used to do narrowboat holidays.
As for the open bit at the back of the boat, many companies now hire out boats with different arrangements at the stern - you get ones with a quasi-traditional stern with solid sides (although the very end by the steerer will always be open as people have to jump on and off but if you or your dh/p are standing there steering, should be able to stop little people running through. The hire companies have floorplans of the boats in their catalogues so you can see what I'm trying to explain!
Personally, just because I'm a born worrier, I don't like the idea of tying children to the grab rails on the boat. Just in case, going through a lock, you really mess up (this would be a very extreme case though) and the boat gets stuck on the sill and starts sinking... that would be really, really rare though and I'm probably being way too over-anxious even thinking about it.

Please
or
to access all these features

bighug · 16/08/2004 22:29

Edam is right about the locks. You do need more than 2 adults if one is to work the lock, one to steer the boat and one to hang onto the kids. We had another boat travelling with us (2 adults with no kids), and usually one of them worked the locks, leaving us two free to steer and guard the kids. Despite my positive post before, I think it's really almost impossible with only 2 adults if the children are very young.

Please
or
to access all these features

tigermoth · 17/08/2004 07:53

I know a woman( mother of an ex boyfriend) whose home was houseboat. She lived there, mostly minus her dh who was away working, with her 6 children. At least two of them were babies/toddlers. How she coped it I do not know.

I went on a canal holiday when my youngest was 3 months. There were 4 adults on board. It was a lovely holiday but I remember thinking, I would not do this if my baby was even a tiny bit moblile. Toddlers and canal boats - no, not for me. I wouldn't even take my 4 and 10 year old till their swimming skills were better.

Please
or
to access all these features

LIZS · 17/08/2004 08:15

xoz

We've done it twice (ds 6 months and later at 2yrs 2 months) and friends of ours have done it each year with their 3 kids who are now 7 and under. tbh it depends on the temperament of the children involved, if they will respect the limitations for safety. dd would have been more difficult than ds at 22 months ! You get lifejackets for them all and need to plan ahead for when you need to be active at locks and the like (toddler back carriers are useful). I'd agree about the concerns raised about the openness of the back of the boat but as that is where you steer from there is always an adult nearby. Do be prepared for indoors activities too but watching the world go by so slowly with I-spy type activities can be fun in itself. Also bear in mind that the canals are often a walk away from shops for provisions but there are pubs along the way.

We did Kennet and Avon from Bristol to the long flight of locks (Devizes?) and back which took a full week but there were long stretches with few locks - 4 adults,3 kids under 3.5. Our other jaunt was on the Shropshire but there were many adults and only 2 kids under 2 so progress was rather swifter and I recall a long tunnel on that route.

hth

Please
or
to access all these features

TraceyP · 19/08/2004 17:00

I wouldn't do this if you paid me - not with a toddler anyway. My dh and I love canal holidays and used to go all the time, but not since dd came along, and I won't take her until she's 8 or 9, and sensible/strong enough to help out and actually enjoy the experience. Life at 4mph is very boring if you don't understand what's going on around you, and if there's no room for all your toys! Even with a trad or semi trad stern (closed in back) there are too many opportunities for a child to fall out - a friend of ours fell in at least once a day, and he was a sensible, sober adult who knew what he was doing. You do need more than two adults, so that someone is always looking after the children, and even then it's hard work with locks and so on. Plus the tunnels may not meet with your child's approval - they're dark, wet, drippy and can take a long while to get through. If you really want to try it, go somewhere with few or no locks - the ones that spring to mind are the Coventry and the Ashby - and pray for great weather!

Please
or
to access all these features

xoz · 19/08/2004 17:23

Thanks everyone for the posts, both positive and negative. After further discussion and investigation, I think we've decided against it. We and our kids are pretty laid back types and I'm sure if we really wanted to, we'd work out a way around the lock problem. But we've decided that the cost is a bit too prohibitive for us at the moment and so we'll go camping again instead. Maybe if we come back to the UK in the future we'll go then.

OP posts:
Please
or
to access all these features

Flip · 19/08/2004 17:53

I don't know if anyone has said this yet, but if you go on the Thames they have lock keepers and you just sail on through.

I used to go all the time with my mum and dad and even as a teenager I fell in several times. Also for some crazy reason I opted for a swim in the Thames.

Please
or
to access all these features
Please create an account

To comment on this thread you need to create a Mumsnet account.

Sign up to continue reading

Mumsnet's better when you're logged in. You can customise your experience and access way more features like messaging, watch and hide threads, voting and much more.

Already signed up?