Last weekend we stayed at Rutland Caravan and Camping site near Oakham in Rutland. It was a trip that we had arranged with three friends a few months ago back when it was far too cold to contemplate camping so we were incredibly lucky to have picked the hottest weekend of the year so far. For this trip we had three people in two Bongo campervans travelling North up the A1 in convoy (a Bongo Conga as we decided to call it), and two others travelling down in the opposite direction who would be sleeping in our awning.
When we arrived (using the postcode helpfully advised by the owners rather than the actual address of the site which doesn’t seem to appear on any maps or sat nav) we found a large site with around 100 pitches, most with electric hook-up, spread over 4 fields. There was some confusion as we checked in because we hadn’t all arrived together and weren’t all staying for both nights and the owners didn’t seem very happy to accommodate us saying that they wouldn’t normally have allowed so many people in a single booking despite the fact that we had explained this when we pre-booked (and odd as there were only 5 people and we’d booked two pitches). The pricing is also a little complicated as there is a rate charged per pitch per night with an additional amount charged per person per night. With that eventually resolved, we were originally directed to two pitches on hard standing but we asked to move as there was no way we were going to be able to pitch our awning on the hard ground, and the owners were able to accommodate us in another field. Neighbouring the site is RAF Cottesmore and on Friday afternoon and Sunday morning there were a series of fighter jets taking off and performing manoeuvres. Although noisy it wasn’t enough to spoil the atmosphere for us, and actually provided a lot of interest for us and our neighbours. Any noise from the airbase had stopped by late afternoon.
The site is an affiliated Caravan Club site and it is definitely dominated by caravans and quite large motorhomes with very few visitors in smaller campervans or tents. The pitches are large and we had plenty of space for our two small vans and our awning with room left to sit outside and barbeque and enough space between the rows of pitches for a good sized Frisbee game. We found the facilities to be clean and modern with one large shower block behind the main reception (which also houses a small on-site shop) and a second smaller block in one of the camping fields. The showers were always hot and not on a timer. My only criticism of the showers was thay they would benefit from slightly larger cubicles and more space to store your clothes without risk of them getting wet.
On Friday an ice cream van visited the site and on Saturdays a mobile fish and chip van visits for a couple of hours and proved very popular although we didn’t try it as we had already planned our barbeque.
From one corner of the site there’s a footpath through to the small but very picturesque village of Greetham (no more than 10 minutes walk) which has little more than a post office with village store and 3 pubs (one of which had closed down when we visited) and a number of pretty thatched cottages. We enjoyed a pint of the local beer in the beer garden of The Plough.
The larger town of Oakham is a 10 minute drive away and has plenty of shops and a large Tesco supermarket. It’s another lovely area and we spent an enjoyable morning following the Heritage Trail [PDF] in the blazing sunshine (taking in some interesting historic sites, and some of rather more dubious historical interest like a railway signal box!?).
The Rutland Water reservoir is a 10 to 15 minute drive from the site and there’s plenty to do there from fishing and sailing to walking and cycling or even rock climbing as well as a couple of shops and a café. There’s also a pleasure cruise that we went on which gives the background and history of the reservoir. The cruise takes 45 minutes and costs £7 per person.
Before leaving on Sunday we had booked lunch at The Sun Inn in Cottesmore. This is a traditional country pub that we highly recommend as we were all in agreement that they served one of the best Sunday lunches we’d had in a long time – and great value too at around £8 for a main course. The pub itself has limited car parking space but the community hall next door offers plenty more parking at weekends.
In all, we had one of our most successful camping trips so far but that was largely due to the good countryside location, great company, food and weather. The campsite itself is in a nice area but is a fairly standard large site and perhaps not the most attractive. It has good facilities but was let down by our experience when we arrived.