The 100 acres of garden and fields surrounding the manor house at Wing Hall make for a near perfect camping spot. Sitting just outside the pretty Rutland village of Wing, the site overlooks a colourful collage of woods and rolling fields of wheat and rape, and just a mile down the road is the lovely 3100-acre reservoir, Rutland Water. Created by flooding in 1974, the water and surrounding area now provide both a haven for wildlife and sport and leisure opportunities, with the 25-mile track around its perimeter making a beautiful cycle route. Surrounding the reservoir, a major nature reserve and wildfowl sanctuary spans some thousand acres and has several pairs of resident ospreys, which can sometimes be spied from one of more than 30 birdwatching hides dotted around the water. Robin Curley’s great- great-grandfather built Wing Hall in 1891, and she has lived here all her life, long before England’s tiniest county, Rutland, regained its independence from Leicestershire in 1997.
The campsite has four camping fields, with around 250 pitches across the whole site, of which just 20 are for caravans. A large, flattish field on the left as you enter the site is for tents only. A second field, on the right of the long, tree-lined entrance drive, has wonderful views across the surrounding countryside and is for tents, caravans and mobile homes. A third field has a handful of pitches overlooking the valley and the resident free-range chickens, while a fourth field has swathes cut through wheat to provide more pitches and some of the best views. A short walk down through another wheat field takes you to the three fishing lakes at the bottom of the estate. There are acres in which to play or cycle around the site, and a large tree in the middle of the second field, with a couple of swings slung from its branches, provides a focal point for kids.
Despite a well-stocked on-site shop and the Button Hole Café, which serves up breakfast, lunch, afternoon teas and evening meals in peak season, Wing Hall is still a fundamentally basic, tent-focused campsite. It tends to get very busy on the summer bank holiday but generally has a quiet, leisurely pace. And the no-music policy, which is particularly popular with families, helps to maintain an air of peace and tranquillity. As night falls, parents swiftly sweep up their offspring in compliance with one of the few onsite rules – unaccompanied kids back under supervision after dark – and tranquillity returns. In any case, if splendid isolation is required, there are plenty of nooks and crannies and hideaway pitches to hole up in.
Campfires allowed in firepits – bring your own or rent them for £2 per night. The shop also sells bags of firewood. 4 large camping fields spread out over a large part of the 100-acre estate, with only 20 of the 250 pitches allocated for caravans. Although there is no playground, a large tree in the centre of one of the camping fields has a couple of rope swings and low branches ideal for climbing on. The family are gradually upgrading the washing facilities each year to ensure that ‘real camping’ doesn’t equal uncomfortable camping. 7 new showers have joined 5 older ones and all have free hot water; there are 6 covered alfresco washing-up sinks; and 3 blocks of toilets. The site shop opens from mid-March to the end of September and the café-restaurant also opens throughout the summer from April to September (serving breakfasts and evening meals at the weekend and lunches and afternoon teas all week). Campers can fish (and birdwatch) on the 3 lakes at the bottom of the estate for a daily fee of £7. There’s also onsite cycle hire that rents bikes for £15 per day or £10 for half a day.
Tents, caravans, dogs (on leads) – yes. Groups of young people/single-sex groups/groups of 3 tents or more – by arrangement only.
Right next door, Art de Jardin showcases contemporary artwork on select days between June and August. At Rutland Water, Normanton Church Museum (01572 653026) charts the history of the reservoir, and the Rutland Belle (01572 787630) cruises around the shoreline from Whitwell. The Rock Blok outdoor adventure centre (01780 460060) has a high-rope adventure course and abseil tower. In the same place, Rutland Water Sports has have-a-go sailing, windsurfing, kayaking and power boating sessions for kids (01780 460154).
Food & Drink
From April to September, the Button Hole Café has breakfast, lunch, afternoon teas and evening meals on offer at the weekend and opens from 11am to 5pm on spring and summer weekdays for lunch and afternoon tea. If you want to venture off the site, the 17th-century Kings Arms (01572 737634) in Wing is a short walk away and has real ales and excellent local seasonal food. The Horse and Jockey at Manton (01572 737335) is on the cycle route around the reservoir, or a 40-minute walk away along footpaths and bridleways from the campsite. If you really want to push the boat out, Hambleton Hall is 3 miles away and offers gourmet dining and stunning views across Rutland Water (01572 756991). The Olive Branch at Clipsham (01780 410 355), a couple of miles north of Rutland water, serves high-end gastropub fare, well worth the short drive. In the opposite direction, the restaurant of the Lake Isle Hotel (01572 822951) in Uppingham is fab, and not as pricey as you might think, with a good, wide-ranging lunch menu of light dishes including omelettes and sandwiches, and posher fare in the evening.
From the A47 take the A6003, on the outskirts of Uppingham, towards Oakham. At Preston, turn right after the village pub, signposted Wing. Follow the road up the hill to Wing and turn right into the campsite at the top.
Train to Oakham then either the Rutland Flyer bus towards Corby, which passes through Wing once a day in one direction and twice in the other (Mon–Sat), or a taxi (around £10).
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