An insider's guide to the county's best kept secrets
Freedom Day Boats
Tel: 01603 858453
A great city day out with a difference – take to the water with canoes, dinghies, day boats, fully equipped cruisers and a unique pedal boat worth investigating for a fun adventure.
Where to find it
Freedom Day Boats can be found on the edge of Thorpe Nature Reserve on the outskirts of Norwich city. I’d suggest a sat nav to find it but it’s worth the short journey as you navigate over a delightful railway crossing where you have to hop out and open your own gates. The boatyard is in a unique area of the Broads that enables exploration of the city end as opposed to the more touristy Wroxham waterways.
What to expect
This working boatyard, owned by husband and wife Andy and Nicky, appears more bohemian than business led although they clearly run a successful enterprise. It just has a refreshing air of carefree living about its ramshackle exterior that fits so well with boating life. A brief walk around the work-in-progress quarters and you’re hooked into riverside life and desperate to hop on a boat and begin drifting aimlessly on the calm waters. You can leave any worries behind, all of their nine cruisers are Broads Authority licensed hire crafts and Andy is an outboard engine specialist who is sought after for fixing private boat owner’s vessels too so you can rest assured there’s no risk involved. Throw on a free life jacket if you must, but this is an experience to thoroughly enjoy.
There’s a variety of boats to suit all needs. Day boats carry up to eight passengers and have an all weather canopy to avoid getting wet; picnic boats are a little more expensive but are full cabin cruisers so come with a toilet, heating, hot water and cooking facilities. Dinghies and canoes are also available as is a unique pedal skiff called Winsome (meaning appealing in a fresh innocent way) which is the only one of its kind on the Broads. It’s shaped between a large canoe and rowing boat and has bicycle pedals in the centre section, two passengers sitting opposite each other. Far from being a workout, it’s a leisurely pedal and enables exploration of areas of the river not accessible by bigger boats.
Full and half day itineraries
Andy and Nicky know the Broads well and give good advice on where you can go and what’s to see. Cruise back into the city on a half day hire passing the pretty Buck Inn on your way to stunning views of the cathedral, or head to Brundal stopping off at Water’s Edge (read our full review) or The Ferry House for a bite to eat. Full day trips enable adventures to Hardley wind pump for example where you can moore up on floating pontoons.
Exploring this end of the Broads is a treat and it’s a good location for short activity options. With affordable prices and knowledgeable service, it’s a fun day out for a city break or great for locals to get away from it all. With evening hire too, there’s nothing more relaxing than watching a sunset whilst drifting along the river. Give Freedom Boats a try – the name reflects the experience!
Freedom Boats is open for hire all year round. Prices start from just £15 an hour for Winsome (£25 for a half day) and £89 for day hire of a fully equipped picnic boat of up to eight passengers (up to £136 in peak season). Freedom Boats also offer holidays starting and finishing on any day.