A Little Bit of Rough
Rutland. Population 37,600. England's smallest county. Motto, Multum in Parvo – Much in Little. Annexed by neighbouring Leicestershire before it's county status was reinstated in 1997, it's little wonder that Raddlemen (yes, the native's are called Raddlemen – which is awesome in itself) are fiercly proud of their dainty dominion. This stunning little county not only boasts England's largest man-made lake, but also some of Central England's loveliest landscapes. And there's one recent addition to the county that's piqued the interest of Cool Camping...
Starting life in 2014, A Little Bit of Rough is Rutland's first luxury glampsite. The name is somewhat of a misnomer for you're as far from roughing it here as can be... unless your definition of hardship is running out of the complimentary eco-friendly conditioner in your en suite bathroom... with roll top tub.
The lodges (to call these mammoth safaris 'tent' would be an understatement) are located in the enchanting 20 acre Spindleberry Woods, a private broadleaf woodland nestled in the heart of Rutland's idyllic countryside. The twin abodes, Oak and Ash, are plotted about 50m from each other, around a couples of minute's walk from the car park. The former sits beside the tranquil pond (a magnet for local flora and fauna) while the latter is negotiated via an avenue of cherry trees. Both boast spectacular view in all directions and can accommodate up to six adults in a three private bedrooms. Their respective lounges put most hotel suites to shame, furnished with comfy three seater leather sofas, woven poufs along and a box amusements filled with games and local info. The fully-equipped kitchens are finished to the highest specifications, with twin Belfast sinks and cast iron wood-burning stove for heating and eating.
There's acres of space for kids to explore, and a dragonfly-inhabited pond that the kids can go yachting on... mini yachting that is. The woodland is prime den building territory, while the mini grass maze and the bug hunting kits thoughtfully provided mean the kids can be left to their own devices, while mum and dad can keep one eye on them (the other on that striking sunset) from the comfort of the decked veranda.
This place is abuzz with wildlife – keep your eyes peeled for grazing rabbits, squirrels, pheasants, buzzards and red kites. If you're really lucky, you may spot deer or the odd slithering grass snake. It feels remote, and the off-grid (except water) secret location only adds to the sense of seclusion. Helpful hosts Sarah and Nick will greet guests on arrival and are always happy to help, but keep a low profile during your stay so it feels like you have the whole place to yourself.
Once you've settled into camp, you mightn't want to stray too far from this herbaceous hideaway. But little Rutland is big on activities. Its prime Central England position makes it equidistant from any number of great attractions. From The Midlands' swathe of family-friendly theme parks to a host of charming manor houses such as Belvoir Castle and Stapleton Hall. And, of course, the vast expanse of Rutland Water is where you can really soak up the experience. So you see, the best things really do come in small packages. Multum in Parvo indeed.
The lodges sleep up to 6 adults. There is one king-size bed in the master bedroom, one double in the sleeping cabin, and two single beds in a third bedroom. All bedrooms are private. The site is off-grid apart from mains water. There are solar powered fridge freezers and lighting and a 'Woo Woo' off grid loo.
Just the glampers. Families, groups – yes
Rutland Water Nature Reserve is the UK's biggest mad-made lake. There's 25 miles of scenic paths to walk or cycle along and a wealth of watersports to enjoy from kayaking and windsurfing to swimming or pleasure cruising. It's also a Site of Special Scientific Interest and one of the most important habitats for waterfowl in Great Britain. Be sure to visit the iconic Normanton Church (01780 686800) on the reservoirs south shore. Anglers can cast their lines with Rutland Flyfishing Adventures (01572 722422). The Twinlakes Family Theme Park in Melton Mowbray is an option for keeping the kids amused with a range of rides and family-friendly attractions. On a similar note, the National Space Centre (0845 605 2001) in Leicester is around half an hour from the site. For soemthing completely different, leg it over to The Grainstore Brewery (01572 770065) in Oakham for the National Leg Wrestling Championships which take place during their Cider & Sausage Festival over the May Bank Holiday weekend.
Food & Drink
Basic provisions like tea, coffee, milk and condiments are supplied for your arrival. You'll find shops in Uppingham (7 minute drive away) and a bigger supermarket in Oakham (15 minutes). The Vaults (01572 823259) is the nearest local – an historic Rutland boozer that boasts a fine selection of ales. Nearby Don Paddy's (01572 822255) does a great Sunday Carvery and occasional live music. The Kings Arms (01572 737634) in Wing serves up award-winning dishes using the finest locally-sourced produce. There's something to suit all budgets with a menu of pub classics and an inventive à la carte selection. Be sure to try some of the famous cured fish and meats courtesy of the pub's onsite smokehouse. If you're really looking to splurge, the Lake Isle Hotel & Restaurant (01572 822951) serves elegant cuisine, justifiably worthy of its 2 AA Rosettes. Oh and be sure to visit Melton Mowbray, England's 'rural capital of food'. Home to a variety of Stilton cheeses, ales, and of course, the titular pork pie. Head to the town's weekly market to get your fill.
20th March – 31st October.
The site lies in a secret location in Uppingham, Rutland. Full directions given upon booking.
The nearest train station is Oakham. There is also a bus stop less than half a mile from the site, and the service runs 6 days a week.
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