Courtesy of National Geographic Traveller (UK).
Gifted with the title ‘bel voir’, translating to ‘beautiful view’ by the Normans, the Vale of Belvoir is famed for its expansive pastures and undulating hills. The enchanting charm of the rural hamlets scattered throughout Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, and Nottinghamshire, with the bluebell fields of Stathern Wood and gothic grandeur of the Belvoir Castle, has remained untouched since the turn of the millennium.
The recently inaugurated Adventure Playground at Belvoir Castle has increased the area’s appeal as a rural escape for families longing for woodland strolls, mountain biking, and playful exploration. Nonetheless, Belvoir caters to more than just young adventurers. Here, you’ll find four of the only six UK creameries licensed to make blue stilton. History and culture aficionados can visit Woolsthorpe Manor, once home to Sir Isaac Newton, where the apple tree that sparked his gravitational theory continues to stand.
What to do
Immerse yourself in the majestic corridors, grand rooms, and art-filled galleries of Belvoir Castle, the Duke of Rutland’s family residence. Although the site boasts a history spanning a millennium, the existing mansion, rebuilt over the remnants of three prior fortresses in the early 1800s, exhibits extravagant Regency-style design. Its 16,000-acre grounds, featuring a carefully manicured rose garden and shaded woodland, are worth exploring. Sip afternoon tea or enjoy live music with an evening drink at the whimsically adorned Balloon Bar, open on Fridays and Saturdays.
More natural beauty awaits at Rutland Water, where 4,200 acres of parkland surround a reservoir. Hike or cycle through, or visit the centre for year-round sailing and kayaking classes, accommodating all expertise levels. Keep an eye out for nesting ospreys, reintroduced successfully here after local extinction in the 19th century – it’s one of the two spots in England you can see this.
Rutland Water reservoir holds the title of one of Europe’s largest man-made bodies of water.
Where to eat
Langar Hall, an 18th-century, Grade II-listed manor house turned hotel, offers a refined dining experience. Complement seasonal dishes like Langar lamb assiette and wild duck tartlet with a vast wine selection. The highlight, however, is the twice-baked cheese souffle. For a more laid-back option, numerous traditional English pubs pepper the Vale. Recent revamps make the Windmill Inn in Redmile and the Wheel Inn in Branston worth visiting.
Experience quintessential English countryside in Melton Mowbray. Dickinson and Morris’ Ye Olde Pork Pie Shoppe, a 170-year old institution, is known for their award-winning, artisanal pies and is the birthplace of the famous Melton Mowbray pork pie. Participate in Brockleby bakery’s pie-making workshop, followed by a ploughman’s lunch or afternoon tea. Make sure to stop by Tuxford & Tebbutt’s Stilton Creamery for a taste of local blue stilton.
Refuel with a bacon ‘butty’ at The Coffee Shot in Stathern village. This petite café with outdoor seating is a favourite among hikers and cyclists, offering homemade cakes, local butcher’s meat, and iced pressé beverages from Belvoir Fruit Farms. Once you’re revitalized, ascend the Vale’s very own Jacob’s Ladder or wander the two-mile path to Harby for a pint at the 14th-century Nag’s Head pub.
Belvoir Castle welcomes visitors to explore its grounds, including the meticulously maintained gardens and parkland, or to relax with afternoon tea at the Aviary Tearoom, inspired by the Regency era.
Where to stay
Vale House, a five-star boutique hotel at the castle’s base, was the Duchess of Rutland’s guest home before its 2022 refurbishment. Named after the estate’s green spaces, each of the nine unique rooms exudes a vintage charm with its ruched headboards and wooden furnishings. Doubles with en suites start at £110, room only.
For unrivalled ‘bel voirs’, consider glamping on the estate in a fully equipped bell tent, sleeping up to four people. Enjoy marshmallows by the fire bowl and unwind in the hillside hot tub before turning in for the night. Starting at £245 for a minimum two-night stay, room only.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Vale of Belvoir travel guide
What is the Vale of Belvoir known for?
The Vale of Belvoir, a network of charming, rural villages in the UK’s East Midlands, is known for its sprawling pastures, gentle hills, and the gothic architecture of Belvoir Castle. It also houses four of the only six UK creameries licensed to produce blue stilton cheese and Sir Isaac Newton’s former family home, Woolsthorpe Manor.
What activities can families enjoy in the Vale of Belvoir?
Families can enjoy the Adventure Playground at Belvoir Castle, woodland walks, and mountain biking. There’s also the option to explore the 16,000 acres of greenery around Belvoir Castle, which includes a rose garden and woodland.
Where can I dine when visiting the Vale of Belvoir?
Dining options in the Vale of Belvoir range from the elegant Langar Hall in an 18th-century manor house to traditional English pubs like the Windmill Inn in Redmile and the Wheel Inn in Branston.
What is there to do at Rutland Water in the Vale of Belvoir?
At Rutland Water, you can explore 4,200 acres of parkland on foot or by bike, or take sailing and kayaking lessons at the visitor centre. It’s also one of only two places in England with nesting ospreys, reintroduced after local extinction in the 19th century.
Where can I stay when visiting the Vale of Belvoir?
Vale House, located at the foot of Belvoir Castle, is a five-star boutique hotel that offers unique, retro-styled rooms. For a different experience, you could try glamping on the estate’s grounds in a fully furnished bell tent.