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
. 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).
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.
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)