I have been living in the North of the county for a while; in Loughborough, that gateway to the rugged outcrops of Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire. Though only fifteen miles separate them, Loughborough and Leicester are quite different both geographically and – oddly – climatically: there’s a phenomenon which we call the Loughborough microclimate wherein the weather can change dramatically as you travel from Leicester to here: I have quite literally observed a line in the road around Barrow where on one side it’s dry (I won’t say sunny, but not wet) and on the other it’s raining. This does not mean that Loughborough is wetter than the city; merely that the weather is often different here. It could be another country…
Loughborough is also considerably rockier than Leicester. Outcrops occur all around; poking through the earth in Beacon Hill and Bradgate Park and in odd places by the roads and footpaths. This gives the area an altogether more rugged feel.
But this week I am exploring the southern reaches of the county which, though comparatively flatter, are no less devoid of beauty. The village of Brixworth (just over the border in Northants) is built of the beautifully mellow-yellow Northamptonshire stone and the drive there features some terrific views of the Welland valley around Market Harborough. But tomorrow we shall be Ruttling; for our itinerary takes in none other than the tiny county of Rutland, now restored to the county status of which it was previously stripped and featuring all the sudden valleys, dipping bends and pubs with views that one could ever require. Rutland is greatly under-appreciated and in some ways I’d like it to stay that way, seeing that many tourist destinations are suffering these days from too much of what I suppose we must call footfall; on the other hand, things can fade away from too little attention and that would not be good either. Rutland boasts some lovely little villages made from the local stone and many of these still have great pubs serving food and (of course) real ale.
I’ll let you know how we get on.