WHITE Mills Marina is evidence that a dream can become a picturesque reality that brings pleasure to so many people who want to make the most of life on and off the water.
The purpose-built 141-berth marina is on the River Nene, a short walk from Earls Barton, and since its opening in April 2016 has evolved in to a truly unique venue under the stewardship of John and Debbie Skinner.
The farming couple's plan emerged when they were looking for ways to diversify and so, as Debbie explained, 'a field that used to flood became a marina'. Over the following months the couple began to grow the business which now includes a popular on-site cafe, The Boathouse, run by Carrie Hewitt.
Visitors from dog walkers and cycling groups to families can enjoy an array of home-baked, freshly-prepared food six days a week from 10am to 4pm. The cafe and marina office are both closed on Tuesdays.
Initially designed to provide toilets, showers and disabled facilities for boaters mooring at the non-residential marina, the boathouse has over the past 12 months become a popular meeting place for people who are out and about enjoying the River Nene and surrounding Nene Valley.
Debbie said: "We are incredibly proud of the team, visitors not only regularly comment on the quality of our home-made food, but also on the friendliness and warm welcome they receive. There is never a dull moment either as there is always something to admire from the narrowboats using the marina to the views of the church at Whiston on the horizon."
The dedicated camping area, which is a certificated Camping and Caravanning Club site, has space for five motorhomes, camper vans or caravans and ten tents at any one time.
"The site has stunning views over rolling countryside, whilst there would always be the temptation to increase capacity, we actually like it this way," said Debbie, who from May will be offering a shepherd's hut to visitors looking for an overnight stay with breakfast.
Groups are welcome to meet at The Boathouse. A Nordic walking group which meets on a Thursday is the latest to take advantage of the venue's facilities.
To find out more visit the website at www.whitemillsmarina.co.uk