Sheena makes it to finals of 'rural Oscars' with her narrowboat tours that offer a fresh perspective on the Fens

PUBLISHED: 11:00 31 December 2015 | UPDATED: 11:00 31 December 2015

Sheena Hartley and her narrowboat

Sheena Hartley and her narrowboat

Archant

A businesswoman who set up a narrow boats tour of the Fens from her home in March Riverside, Upwell, has made it to the national final of the Countryside Alliance Awards, known as the Rural Oscars.

Sheena’s narrowboat tours

The boat was built in 2015, designed by Sheena Hartley and built by Pendal Narrowboats in Lancashire.

Tours starts again on April 2 (that date has already been booked).

The total price includes VAT, a skipper, a hostess, morning coffee and biscuits, a three course lunch, tea and cakes, all hot and cold drinks on board. The boat is not licensed but guests may bring their own wine.

Evening fish and chip cruises are also available.

The boat does not take children and has no wheelchair facilities There is a no smoking policy on the boat. Pets cannot be taken on board for health and hygiene reasons.

The boat has two toilets, heating, LED lighting and a music system. The boat sails regardless of the weather

Sheena Hartley said: “I’m a finalist in the tourism enterprise category, and I’ve been invited to a reception at the House of Lords in London next April.

“I’m so thrilled and excited to think that my little business is promoting tourism in the

Fens and that I have been recognised.”

She said: “My ethos is to take groups of people out into the Fens and see the countryside from a totally different perspective. It is truly lovely with wildlife, birds and all river life.

“We provide maps, binoculars and can give you a wealth of knowledge about the local countryside. You can see kingfishers, swans, ducks, otters etc. Forget the Norfolk Broads….the Fens is the place to be.

“We have had our first very successful season and it has been a joy to introduce this new business to the Fens.”

The Fens may never be the tourist attraction that nearby Cambridge is, but Mrs Hartley’s narrow boat tour has proved a hit.

The tour takes in the sights along the waterways from her home to either March or Salters Lode, which are both about nine miles away.

The destination depends on which way the 58ft boat is facing at its moorings outside her home, as it cannot be turned around in the narrow waterway. The boat can only be turned around at Outwell basin.

She takes up to 10 passengers on every day trip and said they were constantly amazed at the beauty of the route and how much there was to see.

The mother of three is originally from Glenartney in Perthshire, Scotland, and came to Wisbech in 1974. She retired four years ago and bought a house in Upwell.

She added: “I decided I needed a hobby. This hobby has turned into a new

business.”

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