Rutland Attractions

The enchanting county of Rutland is England’s smallest. But it’s populatated by an assortment of top visitor attractions and activities, ranging from Rutland Water to Oakham Castle. 

For those of you eager to uncover the county’s hidden gems, this guide will be your compass to the major Rutland tourist spots, revealing not just the well-trodden paths but also the secret corners that give Rutland its undeniable charm.

So pack your curiosity and let’s embark on a journey through the heart of rural England – welcome to Rutland!

Rutland Water, Oakham

Rutland Water

Nestled in the verdant splendour of Rutland, England’s smallest county, Rutland Water emerges as a majestic man-made reservoir.

As one of the major Rutland attractions, it’s a a true haven for nature lovers, leisure seekers and adventurers alike.

Crafted by damming the Gwash Valley in the 1970s, this vast body of water spans 3,100 acres, making it one of the largest artificial lakes in Europe.

Fringed by picturesque villages, Rutland Water is not just a scenic escape but a hub of activity.

Boasting a 25-mile perimeter track, it’s a paradise for cyclists and walkers who can immerse in the lush landscapes.

Watersports enthusiasts revel in the array of options, from sailing and windsurfing to canoeing.

Birdwatchers flock to the shores for a glimpse of the ospreys, a conservation triumph for the area.

The site also hosts the iconic Normanton Church, standing sentinel at the water’s edge, offering a photogenic backdrop to the serene environs.

Whether it’s a tranquil fishing afternoon or an energetic splash at the Aqua Park, Rutland Water serves as a top outdoor attraction in Rutland.

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Oakham Castle, Oakham

Oakham Castle, Oakham

Oakham Castle, in the charming market town of Oakham in Rutland, is a remarkable symbol of England’s rich medieval heritage.

This well-preserved Norman building stands as one of the finest examples of 12th-century domestic architecture in England.

It boasts a unique collection of over 200 horseshoes, bestowed by royalty and peers of the realm upon their visits – a custom stretching back several centuries.

The hall, with its massive horseshoes adorning the walls and deep-set stone arches, provides a tangible connection to the Norman era.

The decorative motifs and carved figures that pepper the building are a marvel, showcasing the artistry of the period.

Surrounded by tranquil gardens, the castle grounds provide a peaceful retreat.

Visitors can stroll through the carefully maintained lawns, bordered by mature trees that enhance the historic ambiance.

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Barnsdale Gardens, Exton

Barnsdale Gardens, Exton

Barnsdale Gardens in Exton, Rutland, is a captivating collection of 38 individual garden ‘rooms,’ each one brimming with innovative designs and lush plantings.

Created by Geoff Hamilton for BBC’s ‘Gardener’s World,‘ the gardens span eight acres of tranquil countryside, offering a diverse tapestry of styles and themes.

From the practicality of the kitchen and vegetable gardens to the tranquil beauty of the woodland walks, Barnsdale encapsulates the essence of gardening in the UK.

Its rooms vary from the classical rose garden to the modernist flair of the water garden, each one crafted with passion and botanical expertise.

Geoff Hamilton’s legacy is evident in the environmentally friendly and organic practices that are at the heart of Barnsdale’s ethos.

The gardens not only serve as a peaceful retreat but also as an educational resource, inspiring gardeners of all abilities with workshops and courses.

If you’re looking for things to do in Rutland, this should be top of your list.

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Normanton Church, Normanton

Normanton Church, Normanton

Normanton Church, situated on the shores of Rutland Water near the village of Normanton, offers visitors a unique blend of history and scenic beauty.

This striking example of classical revival architecture, with its iconic façade and sturdy columns, was originally built in the 1820s.

When Rutland Water reservoir was created in the 1970s, the church was partially submerged, leading to an innovative preservation effort that resulted in the enchanting structure we see today, appearing to float above the waterline.

The church also serves as a venue thanks to its picturesque setting, hosting weddings and events set against the serene backdrop of the lake.

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Lyddington Bede House, Lyddington

Lyddington Bede House

Also on our list of things to do in Rutland is this intruiging attraction.

Lyddington Bede House is a historical gem with a tranquil atmosphere, perfect for those looking to delve into England’s rich past.

Originally part of a medieval bishop’s palace, the Bede House was converted in the 16th century to provide almshouse accommodation for the ‘bedesmen’, elderly men who prayed for the soul of the Bishop in return for shelter and a small pension.

Today, visitors can explore the Bede House’s remarkable structure, with its exposed timber and stonework whispering tales of bygone eras.

Each room is a time capsule adorned with informative plaques that explain the building’s function throughout the centuries, from ecclesiastical splendor to its charitable role as an almshouse.

The preserved upstairs chamber, once the Bishop’s Great Chamber, now allows for picturesque views of the English garden below and the surrounding village.

Outside are peaceful gardens where visitors can wander or sit and appreciate the history around them.

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Rocks by Rail, Living Ironstone Museum, Cottesmore

Rocks by Rail, Living Ironstone Museum, Cottesmore

Rocks by Rail: The Living Ironstone Museum, located in the village of Cottesmore in Rutland, is an engaging open-air museum that’s among the most popular Rutland tourism spots all year round.

This unique attraction allows visitors to step back in time and experience the workings of a bygone era, where ironstone was extracted and transported to fuel the UK’s industrial growth.

The museum breathes life into the history of quarrying with its impressive collection of vintage locomotives, wagons, and cranes, many of which are still operational.

Visitors can enjoy the rare opportunity to ride on a classic diesel or steam train, chugging through the reconstructed ironstone quarry and soaking in the atmosphere of the industrial landscape.

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Rutland County Museum, Oakham

Rutland County Museum, Oakham

Rutland County Museum is the perfect starting point for anyone looking to delve into the rich tapestry of Rutland’s history.

This charming museum, housed in a 17th-century riding school and stable, boasts a diverse collection that narrates the county’s past from the Neolithic age to the present day.

Visitors can wander through exhibits displaying archaeological finds, showcasing Rutland’s ancient roots, alongside agricultural implements that speak to the area’s deep agricultural traditions.

The museum is a treasure trove of local history, with displays ranging from the intriguing to the quaint, such as a recreated Victorian kitchen, complete with period utensils and information on local life during that era.

The Rutland County Museum also serves as a custodian of local culture, featuring rotating exhibitions of local art, crafts, and photography that celebrate the county’s creative spirit.

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Aqua Park Rutland (Spring and Summer), near Oakham

Inflatable Water Park

Aqua Park Rutland is a summer hotspot, delivering a splash of adventure to Rutland Water’s serene shores.

This inflatable water park boasts a floating obstacle course with over 36 obstacles, including slides, climbing walls, and trampolines, providing a thrilling day out for families, friends, and fitness enthusiasts.

The park is designed for fun-seekers of all ages, with dedicated sessions for different age groups ensuring a safe and enjoyable environment for everyone.

Life jackets are provided, and lifeguards are always on duty, vigilant to ensure safety without compromising on the fun.

The park’s vibrant, colourful features stand in striking contrast to the tranquil blue waters of the reservoir, inviting guests to leap, climb, and splash in an unforgettable setting.

One of the more popular Rutland attractions during the spring and summer months.

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Rutland Falconry and Owl Centre, Oakham

Falcon Handling

Immersed in the leafy embrace of Rutland’s ancient woodlands, the Rutland Falconry and Owl Centre offers an intimate rendezvous with the majestic world of raptors.

This centre in Oakham is a sanctuary for a wide array of birds of prey, including eagles, falcons and owls as well as the imposing presence of hawks.

As a treasure trove of avian predators, the centre prides itself on education and conservation.

Visitors are invited to delve into the lives of these birds, learning about their behaviours, diets, and the conservation challenges they face.

The knowledgeable handlers share their wisdom during interactive sessions, where birds swoop and soar in demonstrations that display their natural instincts and flying prowess.

The experiences on offer extend beyond observation. Here, you can don gloves and have a hawk alight upon your arm or stare into the depths of an owl’s eyes as it rests on your hand.

These encounters bridge the gap between humans and nature, fostering a deeper appreciation for these creatures.

For those seeking to connect with nature and witness the splendour of birds of prey, a visit here is a poignant reminder of the wild beauty that thrives in the heart of Rutland.

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Whissendine Windmill, Oakham

Whissendine Windmill, Oakham

Whissendine Windmill stands as a proud testament to Rutland’s rich agricultural heritage. Dating back to the early 19th century, it’s one of the few working windmills that remain in England.

Thanks to the work of dedicated volunteers, it’s been meticulously restored to its former glory

This historic windmill was built in 1809 by the Earls of Harborough and continues to be a landmark feature in the landscape.

With its sails reaching towards the sky, the mill is a striking example of traditional British engineering and design.

The windmill has been fully operational since its restoration, grinding wheat and other grains into flour using the power of the wind – just as it has done for over two centuries.

Visitors to Whissendine Windmill can enjoy guided tours that offer an insight into the life of a miller and the process of turning grain into flour.

The interior is a labyrinth of wooden beams and cogs, where you can almost hear the echoes of millers past. The mill also sells its stone-ground flour on-site, allowing guests to take home a piece of Rutland’s history.

For anyone interested in Rutland’s industrial past or traditional crafts, Whissendine Windmill is not just an attraction but a working piece of history.

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