Things to do | Secret Britain | Little big Rutland

Little big Rutland

Britain's smallest county

Ladies and gentlemen, may we have your attention as we introduce the small, but mighty county of Rutland!

Despite being Britain's smallest county, Rutland is absolutely brimming with things to see and do, and is one of the best kept secrets of the English countryside. In fact, the county motto is 'Multum In Parvo', which means 'Much in Little'.


Rutland Water

Rutland Water is the largest man-made reservoir in Europe and an amazing spot for every type of watersport; wind-surfing, sailing, kayaking - whatever floats your boat! (sorry, we couldn’t resist).


If you prefer a more leisurely trip on the water, take a cruise on the Rutland Belle where you can take in the sights, sports and wildlife of the water from a rather more relaxed angle. You can hop off and on at the historic Normanton Church Museum and even enjoy a cheeky afternoon drink from the onboard bar as you sit back and relax on the open deck.

Cycling and walking

The whole county is excellent for cyclists and walkers with beautiful scenic routes going all around and crisscrossing the county. The Rutland Round is a complete tour around the perimeter of the county totalling 65 miles. Phew! If that sounds a bit daunting, there are plenty of shorter walking or cycling routes to discover too. The route around Rutland Water is a must with lots of country pubs or waterside cafes to stop off for a break or to take in the scenery.


And don’t worry if you don’t have your own bike, Rutland Cycling have hire stops by the water at Whitwell, Normanton and Grafham where you can even hire tandem bicycles! Just make sure you bagsey the back seat!


Rutland is scattered with exquisite and historic gardens and even has one of the last remaining turf mazes in England at Wing Maze. Barnsdale Gardens is the most famous garden attraction in the county featuring a magnificent 38 gardens built by Britain’s best loved gardener, the late Geoff Hamilton, star of Gardener’s World. There’s also a fabulous tea room full of yummy homemade and locally sourced delights. 


If you stop off at Barndales, don’t miss Hambleton Bakery just down the road who bake scrumptious bread and cakes using 200-year-old methods. See video with Julian Carter of Hambleton Bakery.

Tolthorpe Hall Openair Theatre

For a real theatrical treat visit Tolthorpe Hall Openair Theatre, which dates back 800 years and is which is set in an enchanting glade in the grounds of the estate. Fine actors, stunning sets, gorgeous costumes and majestic surroundings make for a magical warm summer evening. And the magic starts even before the performance as most visitors enjoy a picnic in the grounds before the show!


These are just a few of secret delights Rutland has to offer, but there’s so much more to discover. To find out more of its secrets, go to Discover Rutland.

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