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One of the biggest artificial lakes in Europe

Rutland county, in the East Midlands, is only 29 kilometres long and 27 kilometres wide. This makes it one of the smallest counties in England. Much of it is taken up by an artificial lake called Rutland Water. It was built in the 70s to supply safe drinking water to the East Midlands, one of the driest parts of the country. Construction began in 1971 and was completed four years later, but it took another four full years for the new reservoir to fill up with water. It's now one of the biggest man-made lakes in Europe.
If you look towards the reservoir's eastern bank, you'll be able to see the Normanton Church, Rutland's most famous landmark. In fact, you won't be able to miss it! The building stands dramatically on its own spit of land, visible from miles around. The construction of the reservoir involved submerging the village of Nether Hambleton and the church was scheduled to be submerged too. At the last minute, however, it was saved. The floor was raised, and the walls were waterproofed. It's now a museum containing old fossils as well as an exhibition on the reservoir's construction.
Rutland Water is set within 13 square kilometres of countryside. A long promontory of land sticks out into the middle of the water, giving the reservoir an odd horseshoe shape. The 40-kilometre-long shoreline is encircled by a popular walking trail. It's a bit of a long way though, so if you want to complete the whole circuit you're best off hiring a bicycle from one of the local shops.
Of course, you don't have to stick to just looking at the water. Rutland offers plenty of opportunities for getting wet. You'll see people doing all sorts of activities including sailing, windsurfing and canoeing. You can join right in, or sign up for a few lessons first at one of the clubs or training centres.
For a more relaxing experience, you can hop on board one of the boat cruises, and take in the scenery. The most popular craft is the Rutland Belle, which has both undercover and open air viewing decks.
If you time your visit well, you might catch sight of some rare and unusual creatures. The reservoir has a large nature reserve containing thousands of birds. The star attractions are the huge, elegant ospreys. Rutland Water boasts the first osprey chicks to be hatched in central England in 150 years.
Anyone with the slightest interest in local wildlife should visit the Anglican Water Birdwatching Centre on the western side of the reservoir. They have various viewing galleries and hides, where you can get the best look at the birds. Experts are on hand to give advice, or to take you on a guided nature trail. The complex also has several informative exhibits and a shop.
Visitor Information
Anglian Water Birdwatching Centre is open daily from 10am to 5pm (4pm in winter). Entry costs around £5 for adults, £2.50 for children. Rutland Water Nature Reserve, Egleton, Oakham, Rutland, LE15 8BT. Tel: 01572 770 651

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