Walk 82. Hambleton Peninsula Circular: ‘Ambling on’ the shores of Rutland Water

The ‘Needs to Know’

Distance: 4.9 miles (7.8km)

Time to walk: Roughly a couple of hours, unless you’re one of the squaddie teams we came across & then it would be half an hour!

Difficulty: Quite hilly in places. The start of the walk is down a steep hill & could be muddy & slippy in wet conditions. After that it’s all fairly hard surfaces

Parking: On street in Hambledon – be careful though as it’s only a small village & you don’t want to upset the locals

Public toilets: The Finchs Arms pub in Hambleton

Map of the route:

map-final

Hambleton is a small village about 2 miles east of Oakham. Since the construction of Rutland Water in the 1970s, the village has been closed off on three sides by water & the area is known as the Hambleton Peninsula

The parish originally included the settlements of Upper Hambleton, Middle Hambleton & Nether Hamilton, but the latter two have now been almost completely submerged by the construction of Rutland Water (originally known as Empingham Reservoir)

Rutland Water provides a reserve supply of water in the driest & most densely populated quarter of the UK & is one of the largest artificial lakes in Europe

We’ve tried to walk the peninsula before, but were beaten back by fog. Today, in mid January 2017, wasn’t the best weather, but it’s still a great walk. The trouble is if you do it in summer it will be crowded

Shall we get going then?

Let’s Walk!

1. There aren’t many instructions with this walk because, once you get on the hard track, it’s really easy to follow. The good news though is that it’s varied, switching between open views of the water & woodland

Park carefully near St Andrews church where our walk starts….

img_1840

St Andrews is one of the oldest churches in Rutland, & dates to the late Saxon or early Norman era. In Saxon times the manor of Hambleton was part of the dowry of Aelfryth, mother of King Ethelred the Unready. It passed to his wife, Emma, & from her to Edith, wife of Edward the Confessor. Edith’s connection to this area of Rutland lives on in the name of Edith Weston village, across Rutland Water from Hambleton

St Andrews must have been an important church as the Domesday book records that it was the mother church for three other churches in the area. An old legend says that there is an underground tunnel from the church to the Priest’s House down the hill

Note also the beautiful old Telegraph & Post Office near the church…

img_1843

It’s possible to stay there & it gets good reviews

2. Walk away from the church along the High Street looking for a path opposite the post box…

img_1845

It was at this point we encountered an enthusiastic group of ramblers who thought that we were late coming to join their walk…no thanks! At that point the two dogs with the ramblers decided to have a fight & pandemonium ensued. A local was passing with a Jack Russell (Chalkie) & a Staffie (Rosie)…& as expected from a Jackie, Chalkie wanted to get involved!

3. We hung back to let the ramblers get ahead before following them down the lane & through the gate onto the grass track…

img_1848

Be careful on the next stretch down to the waterside. Although it’s fenced with handrails, in wet weather it’s extremely slippy & steep. Get down that bit though & you’ll survive the rest of the walk

4. Walk across to the next gate & then magnificent Rutland Water spreads before you…

img_1852

…& we arrive at the hard track. Please be aware that this is a joint walking & cycling track so you will get ‘dinged’ at in busy times, although is this one of our pet hates

5. Our route around the peninsula is to the right & it’s quite up & down so there’s some good cardio to be had…

img_1856

How quick you walk this path is now up to you, but we prefer to take it slow & look out for all the wildlife & photo opportunities

img_1857

img_1862

6. The beauty of this track is it’s never boring as it passes from open grassland to woodland & the first one we approach is Armley Wood, although some of the locals seem a bit reluctant to let us pass…

img_1875

At times the wood is quite dense, but the birdsong is superb, even in mid January…

img_1882

img_1883

7. Emerging from the wood, we’re now walking towards the eastern end of the peninsula & there are great views across to the dam. It really gives you an idea of how much water there is here, especially as it’s now almost all around us

img_1889

img_1904

8. There’s a portaloo along here if you need a stop but then walk past the bay & turn back inland once again

img_1913

Fishing’s big on this water, so don’t forget to post your catch details. Trout in this reservoir can grow up to 15 pounds & huge pike lurk beneath the water. The reservoir not only attracts leisure anglers, but also plays host to some top level competitions, attracting discerning anglers from far & wide.

img_1914

9. It was along this stretch that we met a load of fully clad (& armed) squaddies on a route march. Fair play to them, they all said hi, despite being pretty exhausted

The advance party...

The advance party…

10. Eventually the track arrives at a crossroads. Keep straight ahead – across the water there’s views to the local sailing club. The track initially runs adjacent to the road & then veers left again down to the water’s edge

img_1926

If you want to sit & smell the roses there’s a great spot along here & you can also have a chat (as we did to Mike Donnor to whom the bench was dedicated)

img_1927

11. Although it looks open, the track now dives into Hamilton Woods which are extremely well looked after & (as a certain forest ranger will tell you) are a fine example of coppicing…

img_1929

Coppicing is a traditional method of woodland management which takes advantage of the fact that many trees make new growth from the stump or roots if cut down. In a coppiced wood, which is called a copse, young tree stems are repeatedly cut down to near ground level. In subsequent growth years, many new shoots will emerge &, after a number of years the coppiced tree, or stool, is ready to be harvested, & the cycle begins again

There’s several signs along here telling you how they manage the wood including clearing places & then leaving the logs for hedgehogs etc

img_1932

12. Eventually we exit the wood again & follow the reservoir edge again…

img_1938

There’s another mini peninsula on which sits The Jacobean Old Hall which was built in 1611

img_1942

13. We arrive at another crossroads & there is the option of extending this walk round some more of the peninsula

img_1940

But it’s drizzly & dark so we decide to turn right & walk up the road back to the church. Check out the house on the right though…that’s a mighty impressive property

img_1944

So there we are…back at where we left the car. This is a cracking little walk at all times of the year, but in summer we predict will be very busy (& mind those bikes)

Next time we visit we’ll try the Finchs Arms for refreshments, but nearby Oakham & Uppingham are also worth a visit

Go Walk!