Rutland Water: Discover Rutland’s Complete Guide!

Rutland Water Park is the perfect place to enjoy time in the great outdoors. Whether you are looking for an action-packed day or a relaxing break you’ll be sure to find it at Rutland Water.

You may have a few unanswered questions ahead of your visit but, rest assured, we have the answers for you here, in Discover Rutland’s Complete Guide to Rutland Water!

Credit: Anglian Water Services Ltd



What is Rutland Water?

Credit: Discover Rutland Map

Rutland Water is one of Europe’s largest man-made reservoirs, similar in size to Lake Windermere. Owned and managed by Anglian Water to provide clean drinking water to their customers, the reservoir forms part of the 4000 hectares of parkland, woodland, and the 1,000-acre nature reserve.

Where is Rutland Water?

Rutland Water is located in Rutland in the East Midlands of England, just east of the county town of Oakham. Please see the map for further details.

How was Rutland Water made?

During its construction, Rutland Water was known as Empingham Reservoir. Its creation involved damming the Gwash valley near Empingham and was completed in 1975. The flooding took a further three years and flooded six or seven square kilometres of the Gwash valley as well as the side valley. Pioneering landscaping and designs ensured that recreation and wildlife enhancement was an integral part of the reservoir construction.

What is there to do at Rutland Water and where do I park?

There is something for everyone here, with different activities based around four main sites, each with car parking and toilet facilities. These sites provide the access points to the complete 24-mile perimeter tract and each one offers picturesque landscapes and ideal picnic spots;

Credit: @keri_yoga on Instagram

Whitwell Car Park – LE15 8BL

Park here if you want an action-packed day.
Here you can find:

  • Watersports to hire or launch SUP boards, kayaks, canoes, and windsurfs
  • Aqua Park Rutland 
  • Rutland Cycling extensive bike shop and cycle hire centre, including e-bikes
  • Rutland Belle leisure cruise 
  • Harbour Cafe with a band new look! Pop downstairs for grab-and-go snacks, or sit and enjoy the beautiful views upstairs with delicious hot and cold meals.
  • Outdoor gym


Credit: Anglian Water Services Ltd

Sykes Lane Car Park – LE15 8QL

Park here for a family-friendly day out.
Here you can find:


Credit: Anglian Water Services Ltd

Normanton Car Park – LE15 8HD

Park here to see our iconic landmark.
Here you can find;

Barnsdale Car Park – LE15 8AB

Park at Barnsdale a quieter spot with more wooded areas.
Here you can find;

  • Children’s Play Area
  • Barnsdale Wood (full of bluebells in May) with bird hide
  • Off-lead dog walking area

Are dogs allowed at Rutland Water?

Credit: @rory.thesprocker on Instagram

Yes! Your four-legged friends are welcome at Rutland Water, although they are not permitted in the nature reserves at Egleton and Lyndon or on the beach. 

Due to the presence of livestock and occasional harmful algae present in the water, all dogs should be kept on a lead and out of the water. You can let your dog off the lead at the designated dog walking areas at Sykes Lane and Barnsdale.

The Waterside Café at Normanton and the Harbour Café at Whitwell are also dog-friendly.

Can you fish at Rutland Water?

Yes, you can! The Rutland Water Fishing Lodge is your main port of call for boats, permits, tackle, and tuition. Although predominantly a Trout fly fishery Rutland Water does allow Predator fishing at certain times of the year.

Credit: Rutland Cycling

Can you swim at Rutland Water?

Absolutely! Coaching organisation, Inspire2Tri put on weekly swim sessions throughout the Summer to help you master your open water swimming technique. Anyone over the age of 8 who can easily swim a distance of 250m is welcome to join the sessions. 

Open water swimming is available only during advertised group times, no unauthorised swimming or ‘wild swimming’ is permitted due to the undercurrents and dangerous nature of a working reservoir.

Can I hire a bike at Rutland Water?

Yes! If you’re unable to bring your own wheels, you can either hire a bike from Rutland Cycling at Whitwell or Giant Store Rutland at Normanton. 

Rutland Cycling has hybrid and mountain bikes as well as the latest electric bikes, tandems and kids’ bikes, tag-a-longs, buggies, and child seats.


When does Rutland Water open?

The four main sites (Normanton, Sykes Lane, Whitwell & Barnsdale) are open every day except 25th December and operate on a barrier ticket system.

Nature Reserve

Both sites around the 9-mile reserve are open all year round with seasonal timings;


1st March to 31st October: 9 am to 5 pm every day
1st November to 28th Feb: 9 am to 4 pm every day
Closed on 20th December and reopening on Boxing Day


1st March – 30th September: 9 am to 5 pm every day
1st October to 28th Feb: 9 am to 3 pm every day
Closed 20th December – 4th January 2023

How much does it cost to park?
Parking charges are;

  • Up to 15 minutes No charge
  • Up to 1 hour £1.90
  • Up to 3 hours £4.00
  • Up to 5 hours £8.00
  • Over 5 hours £10.00
    (Please note: Barnsdale car park closed end October to end March)

When does Rutland Water beach open?

Credit: @keri_yoga on Instagram

Rutland Water beach at Sykes Lane is seasonal and is only operational in the summer months. Currently, it is open every day 10 am-6 pm, but term time weekdays alter to 12 pm-5 pm.

Can I fly my drone?

Due to the protection associated with the nearby nature reserve Drone use is prohibited on site without Anglian Water’s prior permission, in line with their park Byelaws & park rules.

Can I have a BBQ?

Yes! You can bring your BBQ to the four main sites, and there are numerous metal BBQ stands ideal for disposable BBQs. You must ensure your BBQs do not scorch the grass or leave a mark, and that you have water on hand. No BBQs are permitted at the nature reserve sites.

How long is the walk around Rutland Water?

If you are wanting to walk a full circuit of Rutland Water which takes in the Hambleton Peninsula, you will cover 24 miles, 16 if avoiding Hambleton. 

However, if this is further than you are wanting to take on, don’t worry, there are plenty of other shorter walks and trails you can take including a linear route just over 2 miles in length following the shore around the southeastern corner of the reservoir between Normanton and Sykes Lane.

Can I bring my motorhome onsite?

Yes! The barrier systems do not have height restrictions, so you shouldn’t experience difficulties entering or exiting the sites. Please note that overnight parking is not permitted.

What if I still have questions?

If you still have any unanswered questions, head over to the Rutland Water website or email [email protected] (please state Rutland in your subject).


Further information regarding the history of Rutland Water can be discovered through The Heritage of Rutland Water, written by The Rutland History Society.