Santa hosts boat trips on the canal
SANTA is traditionally associated with sleigh rides but seasonal boat trips along a revived stretch of the Wilts & Berks Canal in Swindon – complete with mince pies and gifts – are going down a treat.
Later this month a series of festive boat rides along a reclaimed stretch of the town’s 200 year-old canal get underway.
Owing to popular demand, the Santa Cruises have been brought forward this year and already more than a third of places that are available have been snapped-up.
Treasurer of the Swindon branch of the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust, Sue Paine, said: “This is the third year we’ll be doing the Santa Cruises and they are extremely popular, both with children and adults.”
Initially the trust planned to ferry youngsters to a canal-side grotto but the idea evolved into an hour-long boat ride utilising around two-thirds of a mile of the restored waterway in South Swindon.
Youngsters with their parents or grandparents board the trust’s 12-seat cruiser Dragonfly on the towpath near Sunnyside Avenue at the bottom of Kingshill.
As the boat heads for Skew Bridge – the old Swindon railway bridge – they tuck into mince pies and orange juice while the grown-ups are offered mulled wine.
The children are told to keep an eye out for Santa who boards the vessel at Beavans Bridge bearing gifts. The youngsters are given their own personal presents as Dragonfly makes for New Bridge near Wichelstowe before turning back to Kingshill.
As well as giving children the chance to meet Santa under novel circumstances, Sue says the cruises raise money for the trust as well as create awareness of its campaign to restore the entire length of the canal.
She said: “We get a lot of people saying to us ‘we didn’t know there was a canal in Swindon.’ It really is a surprise to them. As a result they often become very interested in what the trust aims to do.”
The Santa Cruises begin on Sunday, November 24 and will continue on Saturday and Sunday for the weekends of Nov 30/Dec 1, Dec 7/8, 14/15, 21/22 and wind up on Monday, December 23.
Boarding takes place at the landing stage near Kingshill. Midweek Santa Charter trips are available on request.
It costs £6 per adult (which includes mince pies and mulled wine/orange) and £8.50 for children which includes a present. All places must be booked in advance and payment made at the time of booking. Booking forms, giving details of the child, must also be completed in advance. Visit www.wbct.org.uk/santa-trips Email firstname.lastname@example.org or contact the W&BC Trust Shop in Theatre Square, Swindon, Tel: 01793 827678
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