Rutland Water

Rutland Water is a huge reservoir in and around Oakham offering beautiful walks, cycle routes, water sports, nature reserves, play areas, picnic and BBQ areas, cafes and much more! 

There are four main car parks around Rutland Water and you pay £1.70 for up to one hour, £3.70 for up to three hours, £6 for up to five hours or over five hours is £8 but this allows free movement between all four car parks (post has been updated to reflect new car parking charges as of May 2018). As there are different things to do at each site, you might find yourself getting the all day pass and visiting different places. I supposed I should mention here that you get 15 minutes free entry into any of the Rutland Water car parks which is very handy if you constantly go to wrong one like I do! Each of the sites have toilets and changing facilities so you don’t need to worry about having to change nappies in the back of the car!

There’s so much to do at Rutland Water and I am by no means discussing everything here (mostly because I haven’t done a lot of it!) but I am going to take you through a few of things I have recently done with Millie.

Whitwell

At Whitwell there is the lovely Harbour Cafe overlooking the Rutland Belle (a leisurely boat trip along the reservoir which runs between April to October). Here they have at least four wooden highchairs (one with a tray) which are a good height for the tables. They have lots of outside seating as well as tables inside. You should find space for your pram but as you can imagine, it gets very busy on a beautiful day. There’s a couple of sofas with a coffee table and here you’ll find boxes with toys and books for young children. The baby changing facilities can be found in the accessible toilet. They have a changing unit with a comfy changing mat but unfortunately the room is not big enough for a pushchair. They only have a small pedal bin which was full when I went in so I feel they need a proper nappy bin really.

The Whitwell site also has Rutland Cycling, RockBlok, an outdoor gym, Rutland Watersports Centre and the Aqua Park which looks like so much fun!

Sykes Lane

Another of my visits took me to Sykes Lane, Empingham. Here we went to the playground which was lots of fun. The playground is enclosed but has a large area around the equipment with hills and trees which Millie really enjoyed exploring and was filthy by the end of it! At the playground, Millie loved the swings, the springy rocker, tunnel and slide. There’s a lot of climbing and balancing equipment similar to an obstacle course for older children which is lots of fun (especially when your husband thinks he can complete the course well and fails miserably!). 

Next to the playground is a mini golf course, The Crafty Fox cafe (picnic tables outside) and a visitor centre. Sykes Lane is also home to the Rutland Water beach - a man made 140m of sandy shoreline with an area for paddling and swimming. If you’d rather an enclosed are, there’s also a sandpit you can use so make sure you bring your bucket and spade! 

Another attraction at Sykes Lane is Bugtopia The Zoo. Bugtopia is a family owned zoo with a variety of animals from ants to armadillos. The zoo is easily accessible for pushchairs but make sure you watch out for the tortoise - don’t run him over! There are changing facilities available in one of the toilets. The entrance costs to Bugtopia are £7.50 for adults, £6.50 for OAPs and children over the age of 2 and under 2s are free. Entrance costs include all of the ‘hands on interactive sessions’. In comparison to other attractions we’ve been to recently, I feel Bugtopia is expensive but that is just my personal opinion and I'm sure others will disagree. It’s great to see much more interesting species of animals instead of the usual cows and sheep we see time and time again at farm parks but a large farm park we go to costs less to get in and we end up spending all day there. When we visited Bugtopia, we listened to two talks and walked around twice (quickly as Millie moves fast..) and we were only there for 45 minutes. You can stamp your hand and come back throughout the day without paying again but I didn’t think Millie would want to go round a third time. I think older children would really like it at Bugtopia and would want to spend longer here than Millie who loses interest in things pretty quickly. 
The day we went to Bugtopia we were able to meet some superheroes. You can see by Millie's face that she was less than impressed!
Normanton
The main attraction at Normanton is the beautiful Normanton church which is a short walk from the car park (and signposted). There’s also a refreshment kiosk nearby. Rutland Cycling and Rutland Water Fishing Lodge can also be found here. 

What was once an Italian restaurant has now become Waterside Cafe. It’s a basic cafe selling soup, sandwiches, paninis and jacket potatoes, for example. Prices are reasonable with sandwiches/paninis being between £5-6 and the food was nice. They have lots of room for pushchairs and at least two wooden highchairs with a lap belt. The highchair was a pretty good height for the table but it wouldn’t tuck under so was a bit of a messy lunch! 

Overall
Rutland Water is a fantastic place to visit and there’s so much to do at the various sites. As I said before, I haven’t visited everything so please have a look here for more information. 


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