What it's like
For walkers more used to thinking of Leicestershire as somewhere you drive through en route to the Peak District or beyond, it’s time to put your foot down - first on the brakes on then on some wonderful rural walks.
The locals already know Leicestershire is a great place to wander. They know about the gently rolling hills and fertile valleys, the meandering rivers and woodlands both ancient and new. And there is history to be discovered as you walk – from Roman ruins and roads to the remnants of the industrial revolution. Castles, abbeys, stately piles and a battlefield where a king fell are all accessible by foot.
There is good local beer and gourmet local foods in countless village pubs. Indeed, Melton Mowbray is the regional food capital; home of the eponymous pork pie and Stilton cheese.
The walking is wonderfully varied. On the long side there is the 100 mile Leicestershire Round. A great arcing swathe of countryside around the south of the county is an unspoilt slice of an idyllic Albion; often described as the Cotswolds without the crowds. To the north west lies Charnwood; part of the National Forest and of huge geological importance. Close to the city of Leicester is Watermead, a country park along the River Soar where King Lear’s legendary bones are said to be buried.
An upside of the general lack of awareness of what Leicestershire has to offer the country walker is that quite often you have the path, the view and the moment entirely to yourself.
- Jubilee Way A 20 mile marked route taking in high Leicestershire countryside, the famous town of Melton Mowbray and the gorgeous Vale of Belvoir.
- Outwoods Ancient woodland near Loughborough, with two marked walks up, down and around the native trees and revealing geology.
- Bradgate Park Good year-round varied walking in this popular publicly-owned park, complete with the ruins of Lady Jane Grey’s childhood home and great views from the Old John folly.
Must see and do
- Clock the locks at Foxton Check out this historic flight of ten working locks on the Grand Union Canal. Or if you have a narrowboat, go up or down in the world. www.foxtonlocks.com
- Get cordial with a Duchess Sink a Belvoir Cordial at the Manners Arms, Belvoir Castle’s estate pub, and there’s a good chance you’ll bump into Her Grace the Duchess of Rutland. Lovely lady. www.mannersarms.com
- Kick the bottle Watch traditional and faintly bonkers Easter Monday madness as the younger men of the villages of Medbourne and Hallaton battle en masse in the misnamed annual Bottle Kicking (disclaimer: no bottles are kicked). www.hallaton.org
Destination County : Leicestershire