Rutland is England’s smallest county (apparently this depends on whether the tide is in or out on Isle of Wight) It used to be part of Leicestershire, but now is fully independent. As a result, it can boast being one of the few counties that is without fast-food restaurants or motorways (along with Lincolnshire). So it’s a thriving hothouse of farmers’ markets and indie shops.
Top draw here is Rutland Water, a manmade reservoir that you can walk or cycle around. A few years back, ospreys (fish-eating birds of prey) were almost extinct. But a hugely successful conservation effort started here, and now these birds fly over from Africa and are hopefully safe. This is one of the few places (along with Cumbria) that you can often see them diving for fish.
Don’t knock the fact that the lake is artificial. So are the Norfolk and Suffolk Broads (excavaation sites filled in with water, hundreds of years ago). Not just for boaters, both the Broads have now brought back several species of birds, insects and wildlife from near-extinction.
England has around 45 counties, it’s a shame that some smaller gems like this don’t get the attention of the more fashionable resorts like Devon or Dorset. But likely the locals don’t mind. It’s nice to live in a ‘hidden gem’, without being overrun with tourists!