Exploring Rutland: A Waterside Escape in England’s Smallest County

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Waterside Escape

This content has been produced in collaboration with National Geographic Traveller (UK).

Combining the charm of country pubs, antique shops, and picturesque market towns reminiscent of the Cotswolds, along with the serene waterside atmosphere found in the Lake District, lies a hidden gem that often escapes notice. Rutland, the tiniest county in England, fully embraces its Latin motto, “multum in parvo,” signifying much in little. Situated between Cambridge and Nottingham in the East Midlands, Rutland boasts the focal point of the expansive Rutland Water, a 3,100-acre inland sea. This location seems tailor-made for a rejuvenating weekend getaway. With the recent renovation of the countryside retreat, The Barnsdale, there’s no better time to plan a visit.

Things to Experience

The gentle ripples of Rutland Water exert a magnetic allure, particularly during the summer months when picnics grace the reservoir’s shores, windsurfers skim across its surface, and free-roaming sheep meander the encircling hills. Optimal exploration comes by renting an e-bike from Rutland Cycling in Whitwell. Engage turbo mode and swiftly navigate the 23-mile periphery in just around two hours. Noteworthy sights include Normanton Church’s columned tower on the southeastern bank, a striking landmark of the county. Alternatively, embark on the Rutland Belle for a waterborne adventure. During summer, a dedicated 90-minute osprey cruise offers the chance to witness these magnificent birds’ nests.

Culinary Delights

A must-visit dining destination is The Olive Branch, an endearing pub with accommodations located in the charming village of Clipsham, a short 15-minute drive northeast of Rutland Water. The restaurant’s exceptional menu showcases locally sourced comfort cuisine elevated with fine-dining nuances. Indulge in dishes like Gressingham duck breast with butternut squash and honey, followed by dark chocolate torte infused with miso and banana.

Unmissable Attractions

Discover the 240 horseshoes adorning the interior of Oakham Castle, a structure dating back to the 12th century. These horseshoes, bestowed by visiting royalty and aristocrats throughout history, remain a perplexing tradition. The collection spans centuries, from the oldest horseshoe gifted by Edward IV in 1470 to the most recent contribution by Camilla, the former Duchess of Cornwall, in 2014.

Local Favorites

A culinary highlight to savor is the Rutland Pippin, an apple-shaped pastry filled with ham hock, sausage, stilton cheese, and granny smith puree. This masterpiece takes center stage at Oakham’s Hambleton Bakery. Pair this treat with a visit to Otter’s Fine Foods, just minutes away, to craft your own artisanal cheeseboard, featuring Rutland red cheese.

An Oasis of Tranquility

For accommodations, The Barnsdale, a former hunting lodge in Oakham, has been revitalized by its new proprietor, hotelier Hector Ross. The rooms effortlessly blend classic country aesthetics with playful twists, incorporating warm hues, comfortable beds, floral motifs, and antique accents. Highlights include the sun-soaked Orangery, invigorating ginger cocktails on the tree-lined terrace, delectable crispy cauliflower popcorn with teriyaki and soy at the 1760 brasserie, and the luxurious copper bathtub within the Fort Henry suite. Prices for doubles start at £120, inclusive of bed and breakfast.

This feature is presented with the collaboration of Discover Rutland, the Barnsdale, the Olive Branch, and Rutland Cycling Whitwell. Published in the September 2023 edition of National Geographic Traveller (UK).

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Waterside Escape

What is Rutland known for?

Rutland is known for being England’s smallest county, offering a blend of waterside attractions, charming market towns, and a tranquil countryside retreat.

What are the main attractions in Rutland?

The main attractions in Rutland include the expansive Rutland Water, where visitors can enjoy activities like picnics, windsurfing, and wildlife observation. Normanton Church’s columned tower and the historic Oakham Castle with its unique collection of horseshoes are also highlights.

Where should I dine in Rutland?

For dining, The Olive Branch in Clipsham is recommended. This charming pub offers locally sourced comfort food with a fine-dining twist, including dishes like Gressingham duck breast and innovative desserts.

What is unique about The Barnsdale accommodation?

The Barnsdale, a former hunting lodge, stands out with its revitalized classic country-themed rooms. Playful design elements, comfortable amenities, and notable features like the Orangery, tree-lined terrace, and Fort Henry suite’s copper bathtub make it a unique stay.

How can I explore Rutland?

Exploring Rutland can be done by renting e-bikes from Rutland Cycling in Whitwell, allowing you to effortlessly navigate Rutland Water’s 23-mile circumference. Alternatively, you can embark on a Rutland Belle cruise for a water-based adventure and even join an osprey cruise during the summer months.

What is the motto of Rutland?

Rutland’s motto is “multum in parvo,” which translates to “much in little,” reflecting the county’s ability to offer a wealth of attractions despite its small size.

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AdventurousSoul August 11, 2023 - 11:07 pm

Multum in parvo! Rutland packs big punch! Rutland Belle cruise? Osprey nests? Sign me up! Must-try Rutland Pippin & check Oakham Castle horseshoes history!

WanderlustDreamer August 12, 2023 - 7:53 am

Dreamy Rutland Water, charming villages, cozy Olive Branch, Barnsdale’s copper tub? Yesss! But links, please? Need more info on these cool spots!

Sammy123 August 12, 2023 - 1:24 pm

oh wow, dis place Rutland seems like a real hidden jem! smallest county but big vibes. waterside fun, chill towns, yummie food, i wanna go nao!


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