There’s lots of choice for family fun in Rutland this summer. Here’s a suggestion of a few destinations and activities that Mum, Dad, sons and daughters (and even grandparents) will enjoy…
Have fun on the water
Rutand Water is a fantastic place to be on a hot summer’s day. If your family loves spending time the water together, head to Rutland Watersports in Whitwell where you’ll be able to have a go at stand up paddleboarding, windsurfing, or canoeing. Professional tuition will help you learn the skills you need and there’s equipment hire for all ages.
Whitwell is also home to the popular Aqua Park Rutland, an inflatable obstacle course which offers thrills and spills for adults and older children who enjoy a watery challenge. The Aqua Park is available throughout the summer, come rain or shine.
Stay for the day
At another point beside Rutland Water, Sykes Lane, Empingham is a great family destination offering a selection of activities for family entertainment. It’s home to the Rutland Water Interactive visitor centre, a Mini Golf Course sits behind it, there’s an enclosed adventure playground for children, as well as seasonal children’s activities and events – and Rutland Zoo (see below).
Sykes Lane is also home to the super popular Rutland Water Beach during the summer months. Here children can safely play on the sand or paddle in the water.
If the family dog is with you, take him or her to the dog park (accessed from the back of the car park) where they can safely run off the lead as you walk through this lovely wooded enclosure.
Meet the creatures
Rutland Zoo (formerly Bugtopia) is the place to go to meet a collection of fascinating creatures. It’s a not-for-profit organization that’s home to rescued insects, mammals and birds. New owners Joanne and Jez will introduce you to them all, including numerous reptiles and snakes.
The zoo is open daily between 10am and 5pm. It’s advisable to book ahead for busy times, and especially at weekends.
Go for a bike ride
One of the best things about the route that runs around the perimeter of Rutland Water is that the majority of it is on a wide track away from traffic, meaning that youngsters are safe to pedal along beside you. Rutland Cycling, who have shops at both the Whitwell and Normanton car parks, have bikes to hire to suit all ages, including buggies for toddlers, and e-bikes for adults to enjoy.
We suggest packing a picnic and planning to stop a while on a grassy bank to enjoy the fabulous views of the reservoir. You can also buy drinks and snacks at one of the cafés on route.
Visit a stately home
Burghley, on the edge of Stamford, is one of the largest and grandest houses of the first Elizabethan Age. It has appeared in the backdrop of many a film and was even used in episodes of The Crown!
Visitors can take a tour of the numerous grand and beautiful rooms and view the many treasures on display — friendly guides are on hand to answer your questions.
Allow plenty of time to explore the extensive grounds too, including historic parkland laid out by Capability Brown, now home to ancient trees and a herd of fallow deer. Children will especially enjoy a splash about in the Gardens of Surprises and discovering the intriguing works of art in the Sculpture Garden.
Lunch or afternoon tea can be enjoyed in the Orangery or Garden Café, and don’t miss a visit to both the Courtyard Shop and Garden Shop.
Animal lovers are sure to enjoy a visit to Rutland Farm Park, a small 18-acre working farm in Oakham where friendly donkeys, sheep, pigs and ponies are waiting to greet you. There are always lots of things to keep children amused. Check out Rutland Farm Park’s website for their plans for summer holiday activities. When it’s time for a refreshment, the spacious onsite café has a wide choice of options and breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea are served.
Head to the woods
You can’t beat the great outdoors for a brilliant family day out. Fineshade Woods is a hidden gem set in the countryside south of Rutland and offers the perfect woodland setting for a family adventure. There are adventure playgrounds for children and a themed activity trail to encourage them to safely explore.
Why not take a leisurely wander through the trees on the all-weather track – there are several well-marked routes to choose from. Or, if you’re feeling more energetic, head out on the family-friendly cycle route. Take your own bikes or hire some from the on-site cycle store.
When it’s time for a break, head to Grounds Café for a well-deserved snack or ice cream. There may be an art exhibition on opposite in The Arches — so don’t forget to take a look.