For more than 200 years, Ordnance Survey (OS) has helped people explore Great Britain. The Ordnance Survey GetOutside initiative aims to help more people get outside more often.
From family strolls to extreme challenges, the initiative inspires people to find new places, create lasting memories and discover the best of the great British countryside. In doing so, OS is helping to keep the nation active, fit and healthy.
Rutland Water, also known as the playground of the East Midlands, is a hidden gem in the heart of England’s smallest county. Rutland has such happy childhood memories for both Julia and her sister Gina, who grew up there. It is also much loved by author and travel writer Bill Bryson.
In an interview for Countryfile magazine, he described Rutland Water as “lovely, transfixing and a joy to walk around”. He has named Rutland Water as one of his top five Heritage attractions. There could be no better endorsement for a place than a Bradders/Bryson seal of approval.
Rutland Water is one of the largest artificial lakes in Europe. It is also an internationally famous nature reserve managed by the Leicestershire & Rutland Wildlife Trust, in partnership with Anglian Water, and provides one of the most important wildfowl sanctuaries in Great Britain, regularly holding in excess of 25,000 different species.
It has been awarded Green Flag Status, which is an international accreditation scheme that recognises and rewards well-managed parks and green spaces. There really is something for everyone around Rutland Water. From water sports to cycling, a visitor’s centre, shops and cafes.
Celebrating GetOutside Day
In celebration of GetOutside Day, a six-mile easy-wheeling route was organised by The Outdoor Guide (TOG) which led walkers along the shores of Rutland Water. It was a wonderful day with lots of people joining us on our hike. It’s the perfect location for an all-ability walk as there is a good, solid undulating track stretching from Normanton Church right the way along to Barnsdale.
Lucie, another one of our wheelchair users, was able to use the Boma all-terrain wheelchair, which had been kindly loaned to her by David and Felicity who own Hoe Grange Holiday Accommodation in the Peak District.
Over thirty people joined us for the walk, including the Lord Lieutenant of Rutland, Dr Sarah Furness. It was so lovely to chat with her and find out more about her role as Lord Lieutenant.
Once all the introductions had been made, we began the walk. Keeping this group together was no mean feat. It certainly was a ramble of all abilities.
We had the chatterboxes and the photographers, the dog walkers and the wheelers.
We had the stop/starters and the fast pacers as well as the long striders and the view gazers. In fact, we had the perfect pack for a ramble.
We allowed plenty of time to amble along. For some of the walkers, it was their first visit to Rutland Water, for others it was a re-visit, but everyone agreed it was a beautiful location.
Our first stop spot was Normanton Church, the most famous landmark in Rutland. When the valley was cleared ready for the creation of the new reservoir in the early 1970s, Normanton Church was deconsecrated and scheduled for demolition.
However, the church had a lucky escape and a Trust was formed to preserve this iconic building. Once the valley was flooded, it was clear to see that the church would be partially submerged once the high-water level was reached.
It was decided that the lower level of the church should be filled with rubble and topped with concrete to create a new floor. The church would become a small island and so a causeway was built connecting it to the nearby shore of the lake and an embankment constructed around the building. Today, the church is a popular venue for weddings. You can walk around the outside of the building, which looks like it is floating on the water.
The track which we followed is well-used by cyclists, walkers and runners and follows the perimeter of the water’s edge right round to the edge of the dam. The dam itself is 35 metres high, up to 810 metres wide at its base and 1200 metres long and is truly an impressive structure.
The walk continued on through the wooded area where there were glimpses of the water through the breaks in the trees. The white sails of the yachts bobbed up and down on the water – it was a delightful sight to see.
For most of our walkers, the ramble came to an end at Barnsdale Lodge Hotel. Here we were treated to lunch in the conservatory and people had an opportunity to chat and mingle. There was plenty of space for all the wheelchairs!
For many people with disability a standard accessible bathroom does not meet their needs. The choice facing such individuals and their families or carers is to simply stay at home or to risk injury and infection by getting changed on a public toilet floor, albeit an accessible loo. This is why we were passionate about hiring a Mobiloo for this event.
Having a Mobiloo at events or venues means people aren’t forced to make this choice. This mobile changing place provides an accessible loo and is fitted with an electronic hoist, a changing bench and shower, as well as having plenty of room to move around. I know our walkers where pleased to have this facility available for the day. It was the first time that many of our friends had seen this mobile facility but all agreed how vital such provision to ensure inclusivity for all.
The RSPCA had set up a display in the courtyard and folk took the opportunity to learn more about the work of this valuable charity. A special thanks has to be made to Ed and the staff at Barnsdale Lodge for our warm welcome to the hotel and for transporting some of the walkers back to the start to collect their cars.
There were a few of our hardy ramblers who walked back to Edith Weston and, as reward for their efforts, The Wheatsheaf Pub, which is located in the centre of the village, presented each of them with a free beer.
It really was a great day and we were all very proud to support the Ordnance Survey GetOutside Campaign. We were living proof that the Great Outdoors is there for everyone to enjoy.