Visit Hambleton: Places to stay, things to do

It may be England's smallest county, but Nick Peers discovers that Rutland packs an awful lot into its small borders to help you escape your busy urban life


Image: © Copyright Kate Jewell and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
Why go there
Hambleton is a tiny village perched on a narrow, skinny peninsula on the western shore of Rutland Water, a mile east of Oakham, the county town. It’s the last surviving remnant of three older villages: Upper, Middle and Nether Hambleton. All of Upper Hambleton has survived, along with a fragment of Middle Hambleton, but the rest was lost when Rutland Water was created in 1976.
The village is dominated by the imposing Hambleton Hall, but its expensive rooms (£200 plus per night at weekends) and menu (£37 is the cheapest set menu) make it one for splashing out only. Another historic building – privately owned – can be found at the water’s edge in the form of Old Hall, which dates back to Jacobean times.
The reservoir caters for all types of visitors, from those interested in cruises and water sports to nature lovers – Hambleton’s well situated for exploring the extensive wetlands that form a nature reserve at the western edge of the water. There’s also a cycle and walking track that circumnavigates the entire reservoir.
Rutland is mostly populated with picturesque villages – Exton and Braunston come well recommended – but if you crave shopping, a historic trail or just company, Oakham will easily entertain you for an afternoon and evening.
Where to stay
If you’re looking for a spot of fishing and can stay for two nights or more, then Chestnuts has three rooms going for £30 per person per night (plus £10 single supplement), including full English breakfast. If you’re happy to pay £95 per room per night, Kintyre B&B offers three double rooms with balconies offering a gorgeous view of Rutland Water itself.
Where to eat
The only viable option in the village itself is the Finch’s Arms, which offers your typical pub fare. If you want to stretch your taste buds without taking out a second mortgage at Hambleton Hall, you’ll find an interesting menu sourced from local ingredients at The Noel. It’s situated in the village of Whitwell on the north bank of Rutland, just a few miles away.
Tell us a local secret
Hambleton Old Hall was used as a location shoot for the original series of Doctor Who, appearing in the adventure Battlefield in 1989.