GRAND IDEA: Families get on board to explore canal
HILLINGDON Narrowboats Association (HNA) has just the thing for families and school groups looking for something out of the ordinary. The Harefield-based charity, whose home is a boathouse on the Grand Union Canal next to Coppermill Lock, wants to build on its successful weekend activities with some mid-week trips, starting in March.
It specialises in canal experiences for youth groups and parties of children with special needs. Its narrowboat Spirit is adapted for wheelchair use and has been renovated to better accommodate passengers with additional needs.
HNA chairman Loraine Grainger said: “Our weekend activities have been a huge success, and Saturdays and Sundays are always busy with the likes of scout groups and youth groups using our boats to get out on to the canal.
“What we want to do now is make full use of our fleet – Merlin, Pisces, Spirit, Star and Theo – during the week.
“We think exploring the lower Grand Union Canal, especially when it is quieter, away from the weekend, is a wonderful experience for anyone, and because of the setup of our boats we think this would be particularly appealing to, say, families with a special needs member, or groups of wheelchair users or groups of older primary school children – from about Year 6 and up – for a couple of nights away and a wonderful, unique adventure.”
She added: “Of course if people simply want to sit and watch the world go by nice and slowly, and enjoy the wildlife and scenery of the canal, that works for us too!”
HNA volunteers teach skills such as boat handling and community boating leadership under the auspices of the National Community Boating Association, and have led trips for everyone from blind or autistic youngsters to parties of elderly people, young offenders, youth groups and colleague groups from local businesses.
HNA can cater for groups of up to 12 and can be flexible with arrangements, depending on the number of additional needs, passengers and wheelchairs, helpers and teachers.
All trips will be skippered by an experienced boat handler, although boats can be chartered as ‘selfsteered’ either on production of a suitable qualification or after completion of the HNA boat handling certificate.
See www.hna.org.uk or visit the HNA Facebook page for details, and follow them on Twitter @HNABoats
We think exploring the lower Grand Union Canal is a wonderful experience
Groups including disabled or autistic youngsters, elderly people, youth groups and businesses have all enjoyed trips with Hillingdon Narrowboat Association
n ON THE WATER: