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Rutland Water

Rutland Water is the largest reservoir in the UK, similar in size to Windermere and the largest man-made lake, in terms of surface area, in Western Europe. It is not in the Lake District but located in the East Midlands in England's smallest county, Rutland, which for some years after a major county boundary reorganisation in 1974 was incorporated into neighbouring Leicestershire, but succeeded in regaining its independent identity in 1997.

Origins of Rutland Water

During the 1950s and 60s it became apparent that something had to be done to increase the availability for water in the East Midlands region. An area of over three thousand acres just east of Oakham, the county town, was identified as having the clay available for the dam, and the convenient location of the rivers Welland and Nene. During planning and construction the new lake was known as Empingham Reservoir after one of the nearby villages. However, on its official opening it was named Rutland Water. The reservoir, which holds 124,000 million litres is in England only surpassed for capacity by Kielder Water in Northumberland. Although its surface area is greater than Kielder it is not as deep, having a maximum depth of less than 35 metres.

Rutland Water Today

As well as providing water supply for both domestic and industrial use the reservoir has developed an international reputation as a water sporting location and also as a home for a considerable variety of wildlife. It provides for boating, fishing and cycling as well as nature reserves. Its reputation for trout fishing is outstanding. Water sports include sailing, windsurfing and canoeing, and for those without their own boat there is a pleasure cruiser, the Rutland Belle. The Rutland Water Cycle Way provides waterside tracks with excellent views along its 25-mile circuit.

A 350 acre nature reserve is at the western end of the lake. Nine mile of the shoreline are managed by the Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust. Well over two hundred species of birds have been recorded and there can be more than twenty thousand wildfowl over-wintering on Rutland Water, with almost thirty different species including some which are quite rare. In 1986 attempts were started to attract ospreys to Rutland Water, but it was another ten years before success began to be achieved with the introduction of young birds from Scotland.

The construction of such a large reservoir was strongly opposed at the time, but now that Rutland Water has become such an ecological success, and is internationally recognised for its wildlife, the objections more recently have centred on using the water for the purpose for which the reservoir was originally constructed, that is to supply the neighbouring region. However, Anglian Water have collaborated with the environmental bodies to find ways of minimising the impact of increased water abstraction on the habitat that the reservoir has newly created for wildfowl especially, this project involving the creation of shallow lagoons.

Rutland Water - How to get there

Rutland Water is easily accessed from other areas of the country as it is just a few miles off the main A1 north-south road, close to Stamford. (Note: for those not familiar with English road numbering, this is not the same as the M1). Other attractions in the general area, apart from the county town Oakham itself, include Belvoir Castle and Burleigh House. If you're a garden enthusiast don't miss the fascinating Barnsdale Gardens (not to be confused with Barnsdale Hall mentioned below), created by the late Jeff Hamilton when he was programme host of the BBC's Gardeners' World; these are still maintained by his family.

Rutland Water - Accommodation

There is a plentiful supply of hotels in the area around Rutland Water, ranging from small village inns to classy hotels. One, however, which demands special mention overlooks the water in a splendid position.

Barnsdale Hall Hotel
Click on the photograph for details and to book
or on the button below for a selection of hotels in the area



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