The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Sunday, 22 November 2015

A Visit to the Smallest County (1)

As much as I would have liked to have headed north or west, to visit a few previously unticked hilltops, the weather forecast for this week suggested that the only way we could escape the bulk of the lashing rain and howling wind would be to head east. Adjudging that north Norfolk deserved more time than we had available to lavish upon it, we selected Rutland Water instead. Or, to Mick, Empingham Reservoir, that being the name by which it was known when it was under construction when he was based just up the road at RAF Cottesmore in the mid-seventies.

Wednesday 18 November

An early start saw us arrive in Oakham before 9am, but having failed easily to find a satisfactory place to abandon Colin for the day, we quickly ditched my original plan to catch a bus from Oakham to Empingham to walk the entire north shore of the reservoir. Plan B was to park at Barnsdale and do an out-and-back walk to Empingham, which is exactly what we did, even with the fly in the ointment of finding the car park to be closed for the winter* (that was some money unexpectedly saved; there turned out to be good on-street parking right outside the closed car park).

It was a bit grey as we set out, but relatively calm after the violent storm which had passed through overnight:


The white sheep of the family?

Empingham was my first taste of the local villages and I was rather taken with it. I was subsequently to find that it is quite typical of the local area; every village we visited looked worthy of adorning a postcard:


By the time we got to the Whitwell Visitor Centre on our return leg (where we spent some of our saved parking fees on two of the most dreadful cups of tea ever drunk) it was still warm enough to sit outside, but the we couldn’t help but notice that the wind had picked up. The white tops on the water were one clue, along with the quantity of leaves rushing across the car park to some unknown destination:


Having walked 7.7 miles, accumulating in the region of 700’ of undulations on our way, off into Oakham we pootled for a look around. That wasn’t so successful. The Long Stay car park didn’t have a single space vacant, and although we managed to fit nicely into one of the many in the Short Stay we then found that we risked a £70 fine, due to being over 5.5m long. A freebie on-street spot was eventually found which only gave us an hour, which turned out to be plenty as half an hour later the onset of a cold rain had us scurrying (via a cake shop) back to Colin.

Calling it a day, off to Tallington Lakes we headed, where the campsite in winter is a veritable bargain: £10 gets a level hard-standing pitch with electric hook-up and the facilities are not only clean, modern and heated, but the water for the push-button showers was positively hot. 

(*There’s lots of information on Anglian Water’s website about parking at Rutland Water. I’d confirmed the prices and that Colin-sized vehicles were permitted, yet nothing told me that some of the car parks are closed over winter.)

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