A beer festival held at the excellent County museum in Oakham and a convenient short stroll from our hotel!
A selection of 40 real ales to choose from (2012) the ones tried were in good condition and some tasting notes supplied as well. A real bonus was the continental bar, bottled beers from around Europe, fruit beers for Mrs B and Edelstoff from the fantastic Augustiner brewery in Munich. Tasty food available and a stall selling "real chocolate" too, it's a good place to visit.
Next door to the hotel we stayed in so a visit was in order, a beer festival there too but that's another story!
The museum traces the history of Rutland through the ages, for me as I'm getting older, the more recent things I can just about remember!
There's plenty here to interest most people I would imagine, we enjoyed our visit.
Mrs B in a wheelchair at the time of our visit and the building was very accessible to her - well done!
Largest reservoir (by area anyway) in the UK, right on the doorstep of Oakham. It's around 22 miles around it, bikes can be hired and there are some cycle paths.
I remember it being made in the early/mid 1970's and this visit the first for many years, now a very visitor friendly place with eating and drinking places, far different from earlier visits.
A journey around by car for us, many parking places but be prepared for a parking charge.
Lovely place to visit.
A few miles from Oakham lies Barnsdale. Viewers of BBC Gardeners world will be familiar with this name. Its here that Geoff Hamilton lived and developed and maintained his gardens. Now after his death you can still visit the gardens and see all the familiar things he did on television. I saw a lot of familiar things, it was kind of eerie to see them now.
Despite the fact it was already september the gardens were well worth a visit. Lots of flowers were still in bloom.
They also have a lunch/tearoom and a nursery where you can buy garden plants.
Oakham is the county town of the county of Rutland, if you see what I mean. The word 'county' is never added before of after the word 'Rutland'. it is lways just 'Rutland' by itself. Got that sorted ? Good. Now what to do in the county - one easy answer : Rutland water.
When it was created, it was the largest man-made lake in Europe. Feeding drinking water to the big Midlands towns, it how now nicely matured. The lake is surrounded by gently rolling countryside where you can ramble and bike over well marked trails. The lake itself is great for sailing, and the whole area is slowly developing as an outdoor adventure sports playground. It's hardly Queenstown, but you will find plenty to do if you wish to break into a sweat.
The most famous part of Oakham is its castle. By some degree every peer of the realm has to give a horseshoe to this castle when he/she visits this place. So all the walls are covered with horseshoes from members of the royal family and other nobilities.
The castle is surrounded by a major part of its medieval grounds.
Oakham has a really small town, traditional feel to it, and it seems that people like where they live.
There are a lot of small specialty shops as well as restaurants and pubs. The streets are bustling, however, and at rush hour the traffic comes to a stand-still.
We were there a few days before the Oakham festival began, which may have accounted for some of the traffic. The festival was a showcase of bands, charity galas, comedians and various other entertainers.
The castle in Oakham is less like the picturesque fortresses you will see elsewhere in England, and more like a simple stronghold built to fit the scale of the rural community it rests in.
There is a lot of history, however which the curators of the castle are eager to impart.
At Barnsdale there is a 9 hole pitch and putt golf course overlooking the lake which is a really fun way to pass a couple hours inbetween the days activities and dinner time.
The Leisure Center requires a $4 deposit which is fully refundable provided you don't lose your clubs or balls.
We hopped a fence off of the Rutland Water pathway in order to get closer to the water, and ended up in a sheep pasture. So we spend a little time at the water and then ran from the encroaching sheep herd.
The area around the Rutland Water is a protected area for birds, thus there are many many different species all around.
It was lovely to wake up in the morning and hear the birds singing. We don't know much about birds, but we noticed at least 15 different species in the short time that we were there.
This is a picture of the mom, dad and four babies that would come up and hang out with us every morning.
An old and mostly unspoilt town centre, enjoyable to wander around and pretty easy with a wheelchair too.
Here's a little of what we saw.
There are a lot of things to do in and around the Rutland Water area. Besides hiking and biking, one of the activities close by is sailing.
We didn't do it, but as you can see from the sign, the trail is also open for bikers.
You can rent bikes in the Parking area halfway between Barnsdale and Witwell.
There is a 22 mile path that goes around the lake and is perfect for a hike or just an after dinner stroll.
The path is accessible from the Barnsdale turnoff or around the boating docks at Witwell.