Tuesday, January 13, 2009

WINDMILL LIVING: Haddiscoe Island

REDMILL, THE BROADS, October 2008 Helen and I needed a short mini-break from the crowds of London and we found this wonderful disused windmill on Haddiscoe Island on the Norfolk Broads available for hire by Daniel Webster of Listed Escape. http://www.listedescape.com/redmill. The Redmill ( originally the Langley Detached Drainage Mill on the OS map) was a 45 minute drive from the Regency town of Norwich and just over two hours train ride from London Liverpool Street Station. Without the benefit of a car we opted for a chauffeured limo service from Eastern Chauffeur with a great driver and owner of the company Patrick http://www.easternchauffeur.com/to take us out to the remote mill on Haddiscoe Island that surprisingly did not show up on the OS map or GPS. The Island covers just over 2000 acres of summer livestock pastures and grazing land. The unmarked meandering dirt road passes through a secession of locked and unlocked cattle gates taking the car journey close to 40 minutes to complete when abiding by the country code of closing and opening gates as you find them ; you never want bovines getting in the wrong field or on unlight roads at dusk!! In Norwich we picked up our week's worth of groceries and wine pre-ordered on line from Waitrose Supermarket http://www.waitrose.com/index.aspx Being fully stocked with food and drink we settled in for a week of reading, writing, eating, and walking with no contact from the outside world four miles away but separated by three rivers, no car, and minimal mobile coverage. The mill built in 1840 stands close to 60 feet high with three floors of accommodation. The fully featured kitchen had a freezer, fridge, microwave, gas hop, and an electric oven. The biggest drawback to country living was the lack of potable water. We brought just over 24 litres for drinking and cooking for seven days along with ten litres left by Daniel. Showers and shaves were always followed by the clean and energetic metallic aromas of the iron rich water pumped from the islands subsoil. Haddiscoe Island was flooded with saline and iron rich water back in 1953 necessitating the construction of mills like Redmill to keep the island flood free. Haddiscoe Island at one time supplied the London markets with an assortment of mushrooms; today the salty soil only makes it usable for cattle grazing, a bird sanctuary, and a habitat for playful mutjack deers. Norfolk is the land of "big sky" in other words very flat and on occasion windy. In hindsight we could have rented a boat and passed abit of time "ratty and moley style" cruising the rivers and popping into pubs by the riverside. I'll have fond memories of the peace and quiet, spending my 10th wedding anniversary with Helen in a special place, drinking peaty whiskey and lapsang souchong tea, and having some fine meals and wine in the countryside with sheep, birds (too many to name), Highland Scottish bulls, wild hares and rabbits, and Jersey cows. If you're an avid birder the nightly flights of birds from ocean to field was an amazing sight and sound. The Broads and Redmill are a magical place.


  1. looks like an amzing plcae. What a trip.

  2. We're going there very soon - can't wait!

  3. If you want to see some more photos or some tips please e mail me at foamyfood@yahoo.co.uk cheers, Stephen