Head to Rutland, England’s smallest county for a great bike ride for all ages. This 23 mile circular cycle ride follows the shores of the Rutland Water Reservoir - for the young and less able, missing out the reservoir peninsula reduces the ride to 17 miles. The cycle track is mainly off road across a varied terrain - from tarmac paths, to gravel surfaces, to dirt tracks through woodland - there are a few hills, which are occasionally steep in places. The views are spectacular as the route passes through woods, nature reserves and a bird watching centre at Egleton - home to the first ospreys to breed in England for 150 years. Go in April and cycle through Barnsdale Woods when the ground is covered in a blue carpet and the air is heady with the scent of bluebells. Cycle hire is available at Normanton on the south shore and Whitwell on the north shore and there are lots of opportunities for picnics and refreshment stops on route.
Rutland Water is home to the first ospreys to breed in England for 150 years, and the oldest birds are now 11 years old. They return from Africa in late March and migrate in Autumn. You can walk to hides on the nature reserve to watch ospreys on the nest. There are regular osprey watching cruises on Rutland Water (the largest lowland man-made lake in western Europe) during the summer, and also special events suitable for all ages. Activity in the nest is shown on a large screen in the Lyndon Visitor Centre. There are lots of other fantastic birds to watch from the 27 hides, and there are regular dawn chorus and midnight nightingale walks.
To combine birdwatching with exercise and a really enjoyable activity, hire a tandem or bike and do the 25 mile (40Km) circuit, stopping off at one or more of the birdwatching centres or nature reserves on the way.
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