There’s nothing quite like messing about in boats, as Rat from The Wind in the Willows said, and here at Oaklands we think the literary rodent had a point. With that in mind, while planning days out during your stay with us, we have a suggestion to make: why not wander along to nearby Willington?
At just a quarter of an hour away, the village of Willington boasts the world class Mercia Marina, with room for some 600 boats whose owners have chosen to moor here because of the unbeatable attractions the site has to offer.
Despite having only set up in 2008, the Marina is already the largest inland facility of its type in Europe and well worth a trip. Those after the full waterways experience can hire “Milly” or “Tilly”, two of the marina’s tame narrowboats, and enjoy a beautiful tranquil journey along the picturesque Trent & Mersey Canal. Or, if you don’t fancy taking to the tiller yourself, you can also book a cruise.
But the marina is also a great place to visit on foot. Dubbed a “wildlife wonderland which is bursting with biodiversity” by renowned naturalist David Bellamy, lovers of the natural world will be very happy here.
Bring your binoculars, sit quietly, and see if you spot a Great Spotted Woodpecker, Redwing, Greenfinch or a Coot, all of which have been seen on site. Butterflies and dragonflies are also a regular treat, and a special holt has been made to try to attract otters too.
There are plenty of more material pleasures at the marina thanks to the Boardwalk, with its shops and cafes. Here you’ll find ladies’ fashions at Bluewater Clothing – which stocks the popular Sandwich and Masai brands –interiors at Zing Furniture and beautiful accessories at Molly & Co.
Hungry? The Butcher, Baker…Farm Shop and Coffee House and the large Boardwalk café should offer plenty to whet your appetite.
After lunch take a gentle stroll or a bike ride round one of the delightful paths around the site. Three new nature trails have recently been drawn up with the nearby Findern Footpaths Group, especially designed for families to enjoy together.
Or if that seems too much like hard work, just sit awhile and enjoy the gentle sight of the colourful narrowboats bobbing on the water.