Top attractions in Rutland
From the must-see hot spots in England's smallest county to cool insider alternatives, here's the most unmissable attractions in Rutland.
Whether you live in the county, day tripping or staycaying in the ‘hood, there’s plenty to see and do in England’s smallest county with plenty of Muddy in-the-know intel to help you live it up like a local.
Rutland Farm Park, Oakham
A previous Muddy-award winner this small 18-acre working farm in the market town of Oakham. There’s plenty of farm animals to get to know inc lambs, goats, hens, sheep, fluffy rabbits and guinea pigs in Amy’s Farm Corner and there’s also a play area, plus free parking.
Open from October, this new-ish patch is the perfect place to pick your pumpkins for the season. This year, they’ve got lots more activities planned for families including a bale maze tower, pumpkin patch activity sheets and more. If you’re keen to visit before then, they’ve got sunflower picking still available for August.
If you’re not a fan of reptiles or creepy crawlies (err me!) then you should perhaps look away now. Formerly known as Bugtopia, the small zoo was taken over earlier this year by an animal rescue team who set up the Midlands Giant Species Snake Rescue five years ago which re-homes reptiles. While their hobby is focused on snakes, Rutland Zoo also showcases a range of reptiles, mammals and birds. Meanwhile, The Rutland Falconry and Owl Centre is often overlooked but really shouldn’t be. Inside you can get up close and personal with a collection of birds of prey located in 42 acres ancient woodland plus, three amur leopards.
If you enjoy the great outdoors, head to ‘the playground of the East Midlands’. Rutland Water is one of the largest man-made lakes in Europe, the reservoir is set in over 3000 acres of glorious countryside and wetland nature reserve and is great for everything from cycling to swimming. You can also enjoy fishing, walking routes, Aqua Park (more on that below) or hop on the Rutland Belle and take a cruise along the water. The sailing school over at Whitwell and Edith Weston also offers sailing, canoeing and windsurfing.
Aqua Park, Whitwell, Oakham
Slip, slide, splash and crash in Rutland’s mahoosive Aqua Park. Covering over 8,000 square meters, it’s the biggest biggest inflatable wipe-out water park in the UK, located in the north shore of Rutland Water. You can climb walls, jump on trampolines, use the balance bards, rockers, blast bags, tackle the BEAST and more. Makes a great day out for big kids and little ones too. Open May – September.
The tiny sandy shoreline over in Rutland Water’s North Shore, Skyes Lane Beach is 140 metres long so can get really overcrowded when it’s really warm. If this doesn’t bother you, then we suggest packing a picnic and getting there really early. Swimming is only permitted when lifeguards are on site doing their Baywatch thing from 1pm- 5pm weekdays and 10am-6pm weekends.
Barnsdale Gardens, Exton, Oakham
These glorious gardens feature a whopping 38 individually designed gardens plus, there’s workshops, a variety of courses and events on throughout the year. Green-finger Goddesses will love the garden tour where they can pick up practical tips and take notes of the plants before visiting the onsite nursery – a Chelsea Gold Medal winner BTW!
Gates Garden Centre, Cold Overton
Not as fancy as Barnsdale, but the super popular Gates Garden Centre has everything a gardener needs, whether budding or fully grown (sorry we had to do one!). There’s an array of indoor and outdoor plants, shrubs, herbs, trees and cut flowers, there’s also gifts, garden furniture and a cafe onsite where you can refuel before hitting the garden shops again.
In the Stix, nr Oakham
Quirky and cool accommodation in large, white domes dotted around a gorgeous green field with stunning views. The glamping site lives up to its name as you’ll feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere – which by the looks of things, is a great place to be. Your ‘dome’ home comes with comfy furniture (think Chesterfield sofas log burners for the winer and private hot tubs for the summer) and plenty of green space so bring your own garden games or simply just relax, de-stress and soak up the scenery.
A Little Bit of Rough, Uppingham
Looking for a truly unique woodland getaway? Posh camping or glamping, whatever you want to call it, lodges at this luxury camp site are dotted around 20 beautiful acres of private woodland nestled in a completely secret location (yes you read right!) in the heart of rural Rutland. Enjoy board games, croquet, go on a bug hunt, build a den, have a boat race on on the wildlife pond and so much more. Bliss!
Oakham Castle’s Great Hall is a brilliant example of Norman architecture built between 1180 and 1190. Today, the castle can be visited and there’s a tonne of events that go on throughout the year and it’s also makes a stunning wedding venue. Inside, marvel at the unique collection of over 230 ornate ceremonial horseshoes, 12th century sculptures and the six stone musicians made using local stone from Clipsham. It’s also worth taking a jaunt over to visit Holy Cross, Burley-on-the-Hill. This elegant medieval church is a Grade II listed building which contains a beautiful 18th-century memorial to Lady Charlotte Finch – governess to George III’s children and also the inventor of the wooden jigsaw.
Yew Trees Avenue, Clipsham
The fascinating, yet tranquil Yew Tree Avenue at Clipsham is over 200 years old, consisting of over 150 clipped Yew Trees in all manner of unusual shapes. Once the carriage driveway to Clipsham Hall, The Avenue, which costs nothing to visit, is now a pleasant place to sit, relax, admire the tree ‘art’.
Covering 19 acres of reclaimed quarry, railway tracks and nature trails, Rocks by Rail is a heritage railway in Cottesmore – on part of a former Midland Railway mineral branch – tells the local story of how private railways were used back in the day. Here, you can drive a diesel train, explore the locomotion shed and enjoy a lovely little nature trail too. For little ones there are events, arts, crafts, museum trails and old fashioned games all waiting to be enjoyed. Elsewhere, Rutland County Museum in Oakham, is a great way to brush up on the history of the county, with exhibitions of archaeology, rural and social life. They also host exhibitions and kids activities throughout the year.
Goldmark Gallery, Uppingham
Art aficionados will be hard pushed to find a better gallery in the region. Marvel at Matisse, enjoy the remarkable work of Rothenstein and more. Located in the beautiful market town of Uppingham, Rutland, Goldmark Gallery is a family-run business that’s been going for more than 40 years. Once inside, you’ll soon realise that it’s so much more than just an art gallery.