Meet the boat hire firm aiming to become perfect 'stress-free' tonic

Danny Hardiman at Brandon Creek Boat Hire

Danny Hardiman, who runs Brandon Creek Boat Hire, refurbished a 35ft narrowboat which visitors can come along and hire. - Credit: Daniel Mason

Husband and wife team Danny and Natalie Hardiman hope that their boat hire business can become an ideal relaxation spot for both younger and older visitors.

“You are hiring the boat for a slow relaxation” said Danny, who runs Brandon Creek Boat Hire. 

When the boat hire business opened in May last year, the couple were receiving much interest from different families, friends and couples. 

Natalie and Danny have made changes to their booking process and aim to offer a relaxing tonic through the likes of a narrowboat and cruiser.

Danny Hardiman at Brandon Creek Boat Hire

Danny Hardiman runs Brandon Creek Boat Hire which has been running since May 2021. - Credit: Daniel Mason

“We’ve always loved being near the river; it’s the peace and quiet of being on your own," said Natalie. 

“We have a declaration form to prove they are happy to manoeuvre the boat and shown how to use the boat."

35ft narrowboat at Brandon Creek

Inside the 35ft narrowboat, named Matilda, at Brandon Creek Boat Hire, which can seat up to eight people. - Credit: Daniel Mason

Inside Brandon Creek Boat Hire narrowboat

Inside the 35ft narrowboat, named Matilda, at Brandon Creek Boat Hire. - Credit: Daniel Mason

On my visit on June 29, I was given a tour of the 35ft narrowboat named Matilda used for private hires, featuring a kitchen and seating area for up to eight people. 

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It is a boat that was fitted out by Danny, formerly a welder, two years ago after the first Covid-19 lockdown and requires at least two people aged 25 to travel on board. 

Inside 35ft narrowboat at Brandon Creek Boat Hire

Inside the 35ft narrowboat, named Matilda, at Brandon Creek Boat Hire. - Credit: Daniel Mason

“The boats get sprayed, cleaned and sanitised,” the couple said. 

“One person had decorated the narrowboat for a 60th birthday party! A lot of our bookers are booking for special occasions.” 

With the guidance of Danny, I navigated the narrowboat along the peaceful River Little Ouse towards Brandon, known as a popular route for birdwatchers and wildlife lovers. 

Reporter navigates boat on River Little Ouse

Reporter Daniel Mason navigates a 35ft narrowboat along the River Little Ouse during a visit to Brandon Creek Boat Hire. - Credit: Brandon Creek Boat Hire

This is one of several routes you can take including to Ely and Littleport, which can also be embarked upon in the company’s cruiser, Daisy.

And despite facing the challenge of social media, Natalie, who runs Little Ouse Moorings along the river, feels that their plan is working.

“We know how lovely a day out on the river with friends and family is and we want people to see that,” she added. 

River Little Ouse trip at Brandon Creek

Wildlife and fishermen are just some of the points of interest we came across during a trip along the River Little Ouse with Brandon Creek Boat Hire. - Credit: Daniel Mason

River Little Ouse at Brandon Creek

Wildlife and fishermen are just some of the points of interest we came across during a trip along the River Little Ouse with Brandon Creek Boat Hire. - Credit: Daniel Mason

“In 2019, we decided we wanted to do boat hiring but we wanted to do it properly. 

“It’s a lovely stress-free day.” 

For more information, visit: https://www.brandoncreekboathire.co.uk/ or go to their Facebook page

Iron bridge on Cambridgeshire Norfolk border along River Little Ouse

You can see the iron bridge at the Cambridgeshire/Norfolk border, where residents were faced with a £650-a-year crossing charge, while on tour along the River Little Ouse. - Credit: Daniel Mason

Danny Hardiman of Brandon Creek Boat Hire

Danny Hardiman navigating us along a particular hotspot for wildlife lovers along the River Little Ouse. - Credit: Daniel Mason

Cruiser at Brandon Creek Boat Hire

Brandon Creek Boat Hire also offer a cruiser for visitors to take along the River Little Ouse. - Credit: Brandon Creek Boat Hire

Cruiser at Brandon Creek Boat Hire

Inside the cruiser offered to visitors at Brandon Creek Boat Hire. - Credit: Brandon Creek Boat Hire