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The Great Outdoors

Leicester and Leicestershire’s natural landscapes provided the setting for David Attenborough’s childhood adventures.

The jagged outcrops in the Charnwood Forest explored by the naturalist-in-the-making took half a billion years to create and are among the oldest landscapes in England.  As you explore the Charnwood Forest at sites including Beacon Hill, Bradgate Park and Swithland Wood, you’ll be walking back through time. Visit at sunrise or sunset for spectacular views or wander off the beaten track to discover wildlife meadows and quarries of slate and granite, the materials that give the surrounding villages their distinctive character. Look out for buzzards and red kites circling overhead, deer roaming freely, or waterbirds gathering around the reservoirs.   

The area also boasts the National Forest, England’s first forest to be created for 1,000 years. Spanning 200 square miles to the north-west of Leicester, the Forest’s vibrant and varied landscape takes in ancient forest and newly planted woodland as well as bluebell woods and country parks. The best way to enjoy the landscape is on foot or by bike, following one of the many trails and public footpaths available.   

For a landlocked county, Leicestershire has over 70 miles of waterways that provide excellent local leisure opportunities. You’ll get a different perspective from the water so why not hire a narrowboat, take a family kayak adventure, paddle to the pub or try out paddleboarding. For a more leisurely experience, sit at a charming waterside pub or café and watch the narrowboats navigating their way up and down the longest and steepest staircase of locks in the country at Foxton Locks.  You could even learn to dive at the UK’s national dive centre at Stoney Cove.   

Leicester itself boasts some incredible country parks and green spaces. The River Soar runs through Abbey Park, just one mile north of the city centre,  which is named for the remains of the 12th century Leicester Abbey, but also contains a boating lake and landscaped gardens. Watermead Country Park is a network of lakes, woodlands and nature reserves along the River Soar to the north of the city, a haven for nature lovers, walkers and families using its picnic areas.   

For more information on where to explore outdoors, head to the Visit Leicester website