Although the weather wasn’t as spring-like as I’d hoped, it was wonderful spending some family time enjoying the outdoors and getting some exercise.
Rutland Water is only a couple of hours up the A1 and the route couldn’t be simpler. Once you get to Stamford, it’s clearly signposted and after a few miles you spot all the water. This reservoir was created in the 1970s when the area was flooded and it’s now a haven for wildlife with a noted nature reserve. Fringing the water are woods, farms and villages, so there’s plenty to see.
To make it make it feel more like a break, we stayed overnight, but the area is just as good for a day out. We had put our bikes on the rack on the car, however Oakham is served by the train and there are number of bike rental options. We based ourselves on the southern side in scenic Normanton overlooking the water and alongside the cycle path.
We headed off in a clockwise direction at about midday. The early part of the route was quite densely wooded and muddy, passing the partially submerged Normanton Church, boatyards and then back on to the road. At times it got quite tough on feeble legs, so we had walk a few stretches although it was all easy going for my husband. We paused for lunch at the Horse and Jockey in Manton which has plenty of bike racks outside. After refuelling we pedalled under and then alongside the railway before skirting Oakham towards the north shore, passing farms and some comical sheep. We crunched through snow, splashed through puddles and got rained on, but even in grey overcast weather, it was spectacular. We didn’t have time to take in the Hambleton Peninsula as we’ll save that for next time once the days are longer. A real highlight was spotting a spectral white barn owl flapping over the edge of the water at Barnsdale Creek. Our ride concluded with the Whitwell water sports centre and a blustery cycle alongside the dam before reaching the home straight back on the southern side.
We returned to our hotel, the Best Western Normanton Park, at about 4pm with time for a relaxing bath and snooze before drinks and dinner. The building is a converted stable block from the old Normanton estate and we couldn’t fault its location and our family room was perfectly comfortable and offered great views of the sunset. The hotel restaurant isn’t exactly a foodie destination, but we’d built up an appetite and tucked in. However, nearby is Michelin-starred Hambleton Hall local towns like Oakham and Stamford have some tempting options. The local pubs look reliable too, so you’re unlikely to go hungry. If you planning a visit to the area, check the Discover Rutland website which includes lots of practical advice and has plenty of ideas for accommodation.
The circular route is 17 miles and 23 miles if you include the Hambleton Peninsula.