Introducing: Rutland

It's no coincidence that we're introducing you to our home county of Rutland this month.

Not only is the smallest county in England celebrating its 21st anniversary as an independent authority this week, it has also released its new promotional video showcasing everything the county has to offer...

But as we're born and raised Raddlemen, we wanted to share our own picks to entice you to visit our beautiful county and discover it for yourself. And it was really hard. But we hope we've covered a good cross-section of interests and for more ideas or to create your own itinerary, visit www.discover-rutland.co.uk

Plus, don't miss our article on Rutland for foodies.

The Rural Travel Guide's Top Three

Places to stay:

1) Barnsdale Lodge Hotel, Barnsdale

Nowhere else in Rutland will you be greeted by two turquoise hippos as you arrive, making Barnsdale Lodge Hotel a must see. The hippos were part of an art instalment across the county a few years ago.
Steeped in over 250 years of history, Barnsdale Lodge Hotel offers a taste of country living at its very best.
Its charming individually-furnished rooms, suites and retreats overlook the beautiful Rutland landscape or the picturesque courtyard and seasonal menus are regularly updated in the restaurant using many ingredients sourced from the wealth of fine produce found in Rutland, including those sourced in their own vegetable and herb gardens.

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In the Stix

- In the Stix

2) In the Stix, Greetham

Taking glamping to new heights, In The Stix is the only site in the country to offer two-storey accommodation in a dome thanks to its bespoke mezzanine floors which provide additional space for families to enjoy the peace and quiet of an off-grid family site.
Each of its domes has a built in bathroom, a wood-fired hot tub and a field kitchen, as well as cosy spaces to sit and relax.
The communal fire pit is the perfect place to unwind in the evening, gaze at the stars and make the most of being part of a small but perfectly formed community - even is just for a few days.

3) Northfield Farm, Cold Overton

Northfield Farm has been selling its amazing Rutland produce from its farm shop for more than 20 years but has recently converted one of its barns for accommodation, creating a new level of visitor experience for those new to the area.
It is a fascinating place to educate children, young and old, about food and the countryside as a working and fun environment.
Stock up on a wide range of home grown and home butchered meats as well as a wider range of local flour, beers and pies for a truly culinary Rutland retreat.

Places to eat/drink:

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Just the tonic

- The Wheatsheaf, Langham

1) The Wheatsheaf, Langham

Pie. And gin. If those two words make your mouth water as much as ours, you'll love The Wheatsheaf in Langham.
Their steak and ale pie has won national awards and is served with a choice of potatoes and fresh vegetables for a truly classic, British feast.
But, while The Wheatsheaf might look like an ordinary village pub from the outside, it's when you step inside you can see its gin-uine appeal. It has hundreds and hundreds of gins on its menu and each is served with complimentary garnishes and mixers. And fortunately it's within stumbling distance of Oakham, so is great for those who fancy a leisurely walk and a bite to eat.

2) Don Paddy's, Uppingham

Don Paddy's do a cracking Sunday carvery (we'd recommend leaving room for the chocolate brownie as well) but also serve an array of delicious dishes every day of the week. They recently started serving a breakfast menu too.
In the evenings it turns into a wine bar, so you can make a night of it, but if you fancy a change of scenery, they also own The Vaults pub next door and The Falcon Hotel across the road which has a tap bar and lounge area for a quiet night cap.

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The Olive Branch, Clipsham

- The Olive Branch and Beech House

3) The Olive Branch, Clipsham

No visit to Rutland is complete without visiting one of its most charming and infamous inns but we strongly advise you book well in advance as it's very popular.
The Olive Branch in Clipsham also has its own accommodation and is the perfect place for a quiet night in the country with great food, a cosy atmosphere and a delicious breakfast the following day.
They grow their own, source local and seasonal produce and even forage for herbs and vegetables from the surrounding woodlands and fields proving time and again why it's such a sought-after location.

Things to do:

1) The Grainstore Brewery Tour, Oakham

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Beer wizardry

- The Grainstore Brewery

This one's for the grown-ups but is an absolutely brilliant activity, especially if you're real ale lovers.
The Grainstore Brewery is one of the few remaining breweries in the country that is built over three floors and uses natural gravity to brew its award-winning real ales.
Built from the ashes of the Ruddles Brewery, the tour will take you through the history of brewing, the traditional processes and how The Grainstore is designed using creative engineering and conservation methods.
You'll end the tour in the brewery tap where your beer wizard will talk you through the different ales and you can finally taste them. Packages can also include food and beer, so you might as well make an afternoon of it.

2) Rutland Farm Park, Oakham

If you're visiting with children, there's loads to do in Rutland but the Farm Park is a particular attraction we wanted to point out.
It has a place in the hearts of many Rutlanders and has recently reopened after a 20-year hiatus, creating the next chapter in its history.
Paddocks are filled with traditional farm animals, from Highland Cattle to Shire Horses and you can get up close and feed the alpacas and sheep and even bottle feed lambs and calves in the Spring.
There's even an onsite cafe and gift shop which is open to passers-by, so if you don't fancy touring the farm you can still pop in to pick up some eggs for breakfast and support them as a small rural business.

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Rutland Water

- The Rural Travel Guide

3) Cycle around Rutland Water

With so much food and drink on offer, it's probably wise to get outside and burn off a few calories before over-indulging in Rutland's finest.
Cycle hire is available at Rutland Cycling, Whitwell and you can choose an 18 or 22-miles route around Rutland Water, passing through the nature reserve and past a few pubs along the way. Give yourself anything from two to five hours to complete the circuit and take in the beautiful views and pretty villages as you pass through.
Alternatively, there are some easy and accessible walks around the reservoir so you can include the whole family.

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So, now we've introudcued you to our area, would you like to introduce us to yours? We love hearing from locals about what's good and where to go. Please get in touch and tell us your top threes.

Megan is the owner of Rural Roots Media, specialising in rural tourism, where her passion for travel, heritage and a great visitor experience inspired her to start 'The Rural Travel Guide'.

Follow her on Instagram and Twitter.