charnwood forest

The Charnwood Forest


The Charnwood Forest

Step back in time as you explore the woods and forests of this ancient landscape. From wildflower meadows to rare birds and trout fishing, the beautiful Leicestershire countryside was also once home to some of the oldest life on earth.

Add The Charnwood Forest to your Itinerary

Visitor Details

Key Information

Charnwood Forest, Leicestershire, LE12 8TA

Opening Times

Season (1 Jan 2021 - 31 Dec 2021)



Loughborough - A Market Town, Charnwood

Map & Directions



  • Uncover the story - The setting for David Attenborough’s childhood adventures, Charnwood Forest’s unique landscape has an astonishing story to tell – one that spans 580 million years. The jagged outcrops explored by the naturalist-in-the-making are among the oldest rocks in England, but it’s the fossils found here that make it so special. <hr> The rocks at Charnwood were thought to be too old to contain fossils but in 1957, a plant-like impression discovered embedded in stone here – named Charnia masoni – turned out to be the oldest fossilised evidence of our animal ancestors and changed our understanding of how complex life evolved on Earth. <hr> As you explore Charnwood Forest, you’re walking back through time, and sites including Beacon Hill, Bradgate Park and Swithland Wood offer an other-worldly perspective when viewed at sunrise or sunset. Wander off the beaten track and you’ll discover wildflower meadows and quarries of slate and granite, the materials that give the surrounding villages their distinctive character. <hr> Look out too for wildlife, with buzzards flying overhead, a bat population of regional importance and a canopy that’s home to many species of moths. The towering trees of Martinshaw Wood, between Ratby and Groby villages, offer a shaded pathway for walkers, and Groby Pool is home to one of Leicestershire’s few heronries.<hr> Charnwood’s reservoirs also attract waterbirds, so on a stroll around the 3.5-mile stretch at Cropston, look for tufted duck and great-crested grebe. As you explore Thornton’s paths, set alongside National Forest woodland, you could even spot osprey competing with anglers for catch of the day at its trout fishery, which is open for fishing with a permit. <hr> Hire a boat at Pillings Lock Marina on the Loughborough section of the Grand Union Canal, or head to Barrow-upon-Soar, where pedaloes and rowing boats at Barrow Boating offer an altogether different view of Charnwood. From here, a short journey to Leicester Museum and Art Gallery, where Charnia masoni is proudly displayed, will take you back nearly 600 million years.

Accreditations & Awards

What's Nearby

  1. Stoneywell

    Arts and Crafts cottage that took root in forest setting

  2. Snibston Colliery Park

    Country park digs deep into area’s mining and cultural heritage

  3. 1620s House & Garden

    A house of plotting, witchcraft and enlightenment

  4. Loughborough University

    Loughborough is one of Britain’s top-ranked universities. Its world class research,…

  1. Great Central Railway

    A day return to the birthplace of popular tourism

  2. Bradgate Park

    The Estate, Tearooms and Car Parks are open and will remain open during November 5th -…

  3. Charnwood Forest Villages

    Charm of forest villages is set in stone

  4. Stonehurst Family Farm and Motor museum

    Stonehurst family farm offers a super family friendly farm park experience at…

  5. Kirby Muxloe Castle

    Grand design left unfinished by conspiracy theory

  6. Leicester Cycle Circuit

    Leicester Cycle Circuit – Learn to ride, train and race for all abilities at a purpose…

  7. Leicester Outdoor Pursuits Centre

    Adventurous outdoor activities designed to stimulate, educate and motivate young people…

  8. Abbey Pumping Station

    Ideal for visitors not wanting to spend a penny

  9. National Space Centre

    Space Suits, Rockets And Buzz Aldrin’s Underpants

  10. Watermead Country Park South

    On the edge of Leicester north of the city centre, Watermead Country Park is a green…

  11. Belgrave Hall

    Belgrave Hall is a historic house, providing an oasis of peace and quiet in a busy city.

  12. Abbey Park

    Hugging the banks of the River Soar in the north of the city is Abbey Park – a beautiful…

Previous Next

Search What's Nearby

Product Type
Within miles

Flower Icon

Related Content

Explore further