It was three whole weeks since we returned home from out last short trip away to Lincolnshire and I had itchy feet again.
The motorhome had been back to Simpsons in Great Yarmouth for her two year service and then I had spent several days giving it the mother of all cleans. The green gunk had been meticulously removed from round all the nooks and crannies on the roof, five roof lights, a solar panel, satellite dome and TV antenna, where it had built up during the winter. The whole van given a thorough wash and polish, topped off with a coat of gloss protector, windows cleaned inside and out and even the tyres were given a side wall treatment. She absolutely gleamed. It seemed such a shame to leave her standing on the drive, prey to every incontinent bird in Suffolk but we had been standing by waiting to be summoned to Doncaster for a press launch that never happened.
We decided that a few days at our favourite hideaway would fit the bill so Kate rang Judy at Cobnor House CL on the edge of Chichester Harbour. It was always likely to be another short trip because I had a dental appointment on the Tuesday and the following weekend was a Bank Holiday, when everything gets booked months in advance. Cobnor had plenty of space for a few days but there was a slight problem……it was waterlogged. Although we had a little light rain in Suffolk the south coast had had a real soaking and everything was very soggy, not good for a ‘truck’ like ours with front wheel drive and weighing over four tons. Oh well! I had quite fancied a few days watching the boats from the slipway and walking around the headland in the sea breeze but we would have to chose somewhere else.
Several years ago, in our ‘tugging’ days, we had stayed with our caravan at the CC site at Top Lodge, now called Stamford, and driven up to Rutland Water. I searched and found The Paddock,(GPS 52°38’11.31”N 0°40’37.06W) a C&CC CS just outside the village of Manton on the south west side of the water. A look on Google Earth showed that it was well off the road and quite close to the Osprey nesting site and visitor centre. It looked just the thing. I rang and left a message for the chap who looks after the site, “Could we come on Tuesday”? I very quickly had a call back from Brian who said he had space but only for three nights as the weekend had been booked since January. OK, three nights is better than nothing so we accepted that and then had a pleasant chat when he explained which pitch we should take if he was not around when we arrived. It was a pleasant surprise to receive a text message from Brian the evening before we left home reminding us of the pitch number to use. Super efficient!
It was an easy drive, A14 then A1, and we arrived at The Paddock in time for a late lunch. We were very impressed with the site which is a large flat field on top of the hill overlooking Rutland Water.
It is an ‘Adults Only’ site with eight pitches, five with hook up and three without, marked out by a crafty bit of mowing that leaves areas of tall grass between the pitches and down the middle of the site.
It is all very neat and tidy with a smart fenced enclosure for rubbish, recycling bins and toilet emptying. Little wonder it was voted 2012 CS of the Year by Camping & Caravan Club members. I had opted for a non electric pitch as I wanted to test the new batteries that had been fitted by Simpsons a few months ago. On all our winter trips we had used hook up because of the short days and long evenings but this was a chance to see if the solar panel and two leisure batteries could cope with a fairly heavy demand.
It was a rather murky and misty view that greeted us the next morning but at least it wasn’t raining and as the morning progressed the sky started to lighten and clear. We decided we would walk to the pub in Manton which is described on the website (http://www.thepaddockrutlandwater.co.uk) as a “15 minute stroll”. My oldish OS map showed that we might be able to walk down to the lake side and use a footpath to the village so we set off down the steep hill towards the waters edge. We arrived at a Rutland Water visitors centre and wildlife reserve where you can get information about the Ospreys that nest there as well as watching the birds and wildlife across the reservoir. The wildlife reserve means that you can’t walk through that part of the shore so we had to retreat back up that steep hill to where we started. However, we did stay a while and watch the Ospreys on a nest via their CCTV camera and a large screen TV.
So, back up the hill where we were detained and entertained by the antics of a group of lambs playing ‘King of the Castle’ on a pile of silage bales and then on to the main road for our ’15 minute stroll’. It was actually 30 minutes before we arrived at the Horse & Jockey (www.horseandjockeyrutland.co.uk) which has the same owner as our site. It is a pretty village with some lovely old buildings and the pub sits on the edge with a large area of tables outside plus a decent sized car park. It was certainly popular for a mid week lunch time with lots of walkers and cyclists making it a ‘pit stop’ to refuel and rest. We ordered a filled baguette each and a bowl of chips and I washed mine down with an excellent drop of ‘cooking bitter’. The food was served quickly, was very good and by now the sun had put in an appearance which made for a very pleasant lunch.
Our walk back to the site seemed longer because the road was very straight and it looked an awful long way from one end to the other. It always seems shorter and more interesting on winding roads. At least there is a wide cycle track and footpath for most of the way so you are separated and safe from traffic.
On our last full day we thought we might try the bus service that goes all around Rutland Water. You can hop on and off at various places to explore and then end up where you started. The morning was murky again with occasional drizzle so we decided that was one trip we could do next time.
This had been our first stop in Rutland for a number of years and although it was a short trip we had enjoyed it very much. We will certainly be back.