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Stay at home: Rutland Water

Go big in England’s smallest county with a gourmet getaway and watersports, walks and antiques, too

Stay at home: Rutland Water
Image: Getty

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Why go

Landlocked in the East Midlands, Rutland is the UK’s smallest historic county. This tiny tranquil corner has Rutland Water at its heart and villages dot its circumference — like Hambleton, which has a great pub, quaint cottages and wonderful walks.

Where to stay

Hambleton Hall. Little has changed since this former private home became a hotel. You’ll find roaring fires, huge armchairs and wood panelling but no stuffy atmosphere. Wander the gardens down to the lake and take a dip in the pool in the summer, or curl up in front of the fire during winter. prideofbritainhotels.com

Where to eat

Hambleton Hall’s restaurant has the longest-retained Michelin star in the UK. Game is big on the menu and there’s an expert sommelier and a whole lot of truffle (try the chocolate truffle Jerusalem artichoke ice cream). Don’t miss the eponymous bakery. 

What to do

Get on the water. Rutland Water operates year round so whether you want a bracing winter sail or easy summer paddle, the lake is a magnet for all activities. Introductory sailing lessons get you zipping across the lake surprisingly quickly (ask for Graham).

We like

Normanton Church, which avoided demolition in 1970 after public outcry, appears to float in the reservoir. It’s also a concert venue so check timetables for an evening of jazz on the water.

Don’t miss

Antique hunting in the nearby Lincolnshire town of Stamford. St Martins Antiques Centre is full of treasures. Later, swing by coaching inn The George for a local ale.

Published in the April 2018 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)