The sun glinting through the branches and dancing on the ripples of the river. Oars splashing in the water and the sound of crunching gravel as swans and canal boats glide by… Long bike rides and treks to the pub…

Despite Leicester being about as far as you can be from the seaside, there are more than 70 miles of waterside in the county, with canal paths and riverside walks the perfect place to blow away the cobwebs and relax at any time of year.

Explore the Soar

The main river through Leicestershire (though there are eight!) is the River Soar. It flows right through the heart of the city and can be followed from its source in Warwickshire, right through the county and city before it joins the Trent on the northern edge of the county.

The Soar is connected to the Grand Union Canal, which runs all the way to London and Birmingham, so it’s the perfect place to sit and watch canal boats passing by, also known as ‘Gongoozling’. And the art of Gongoozling has no better home than at Foxton Locks, where you can watch canal boats traverse ten locks up a 70 foot hill.

It’s also the perfect place to cast a line and relax as you try out fishing. There are a number of legal fishing sites around the city and county, so make sure to check before you pitch and cast. If you’re a beginner then you can learn the ropes at Eye Kettleby Lakes, a family-run fishery near Melton.

Walks and rides

If you fancy something a little more active, then Leicester’s riversides and canal paths give you the perfect opportunity to stretch your legs. For a real challenge, you can hop on your bike and cycle the length of the Soar, all 28 miles. This forms the backbone of National Cycle Network Route 6, which runs for 406 miles from London to the Lake District, right through Leicestershire.

You can also follow the Great Union Canal and Soar all the way from Market Harborough to Ratcliffe on Soar, taking in Wistow, Everards Meadows, The King Power Stadium, the street art around Frog Island, Abbey Park and the Space Centre, Watermead Country Park, and the villages of Mountsorrel and Quorn.

There are plenty of places to explore nature around the riverside. Watermead Country Park lies right on the Grand Union Canal and contains a number of lakes and wetlands along with a nature reserve. It’s the perfect place to explore on foot, walking the dog, or on bike. It’s also part of the route for October’s Leicester Half Marathon.

Aylestone Meadows runs between two branches on the River Soar from the city all the way to Fosse Park and is the perfect route for a walk. You can make your way along canal paths, across the ancient packhorse bridge and then finish your journey with a pint and a meal at the Everards Meadows brewery.

Splashing about on the river

There are loads of chance to get active on the river. Let’s Get Lost offer a wide range of watersports, from their paddle to the pub adventures, paddleboarding or a chance to kayak and camp. You can also choose a twilight adventure and watch the sun set over the water. All the equipment is provided for you.

You can also take a bike adventure in the National Forest and explore the Ashby canal. You can rent a bike from Hicks Lodge or bring your own and you can explore this piece of history as you travel along the canal from Conkers to Moira Furnace and discover how the industrial past of Leicestershire has been transformed into lush countryside.

Getting into the water

As we’re encouraging people to take a Fitcation in Leicester, there’s plenty of other ways to get your feet wet in and around the area. Open water swimming has become more and more popular, and there are a number of places to try out this invigorating pastime which can not only reduce your stress levels, but has been proven to boost immune systems and prevent and manage long term health conditions.

Stanton Lakes in Blaby has excellent water quality and beautiful surroundings to enjoy as you work on your strokes, and then you can relax in the Peppervine Tapas restaurant on the site. Race Hub near Melton is used by the British Triathlon team to train and also offers one to one sessions with professional coaches.

The spring-fed waters of Stoney Cove, noted to be the cleanest and clearest in Leicestershire, are one of the best places to try out open water swimming in a safe environment. 13 acres of open water contain a 1000 metre course to test yourself on. And thanks to this clear water, Stoney Cove is also the UK’s National Dive Centre, providing the perfect environment for scuba enthusiasts to explore underwater, finding such treasures as shipwrecks, a diving bell and even a helicopter!




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