Farm bell tents in Rutland

Take a break from city life with a birding holiday in England’s smallest county.

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100% (83 reviews)

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Farm bell tents in Rutland guide

Overview

Situated in the East Midlands, Rutland, England's smallest county, has long been a popular destination for countryside holidaymaking. It's home to the town of Uppingham, known for its antique shops and art galleries, and Oakham, known for its beautifully preserved Norman castle. Rutland's biggest draw for outdoor enthusiasts is the Rutland Water Nature Reserve, a 1,000-acre habitat that draws up to 25,000 overwintering birds during the cooler months. Here you'll find lagoons, wetlands, and meadows, plus a visitor centre, where you can learn about the reserve and the flora and fauna found here.

Where to go

Holme Dunes National Nature Reserve

On the coast of the North Sea, the Holmes Dunes National Nature Reserve is another hotspot for birders. Although migratory birds may be the big draw, you're also likely to see everything from toads to butterflies, particularly in the spring and summer. It’s just up the coast from Old Hunstanton Beach, where you can see the wrecked remains of the Steam Trawler Sheraton, which was used in both world wars.

Scolt Head Island National Nature Reserve

A ferry ride away from Burnham Overy Staithe on the Norfolk coast, Scolt Head Island has been a nature reserve since 1923. This barrier island is made up of a mix of dunes, marshes, and mud flats. Like many reserves in the area, it's an important breeding ground for sea birds, so bring your binoculars. Other creatures on the island include shrews, voles, and stoats along with the occasional deer.

Lincolnshire Wolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB)

Encompassing 216 square miles in the East Midlands, the Lincolnshire Wolds offers everything you'd imagine when you think of the quintessential English countryside scenery: rolling, grassy hills and quiet woodlands, plus the occasional small village. The Viking Way, a 147-mile-long walking trail that connects Rutland with Hull, leads through the Wolds, though most people prefer to explore the area by car.

When to go

The weather in Rutland is at its finest in July and August, with high temperatures in the low 20s, but if you're coming to see birds, you're best off visiting in winter or spring. Winter sees large numbers of migratory waterfowl at the Rutland Water, but make sure to bring a warm coat as it can get close to freezing here. Spring is another great time to visit, when migratory birds return for the season.

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