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A varied and historic countryside consisting of famous battlefields, young woodland and superb country parks, walks in Leicestershire are the perfect tonic for those wanting to escape the urban centres of the Midlands. Quaint villages, tranquil canals, picturesque reservoirs and spectacular viewpoints will lure you back to the region time and time again.
Historic sites set amongst charming countryside are abundant. Experience the ground on which one of the defining moments of English history took place at Bosworth Battlefield, or explore the rugged landscape of Bradgate Country Park and the ruins of Bradgate House.Your hikes in Leicestershire will take you into the National Forest, which covers much of the west of the county. You can explore the many delights of this rapidly evolving region, representing one of the most ambitious and imaginative regeneration projects in Britain. The landscapes here make for a glorious adventure at any time of year.
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If it is a wild and rugged landscape with dramatic views that you are after, you can’t go wrong at Bradgate Country Park. Its 830 acres (336 ha) of grassland, heath, bracken and woodland are host to some of the best hikes in Leicestershire. At its heart are the atmospheric ruins of Bradgate House, the childhood home of Lady Jane Grey who spent nine days as Queen in 1553 before her beheading half a year later for treason.
The park is a wonderful place for a ramble, with its gnarled oak trees and rocky outcrops. Its high point is marked by the grand Old John Folly and rewards with a spectacular panorama of Leicester. Keep an eye out for the herds of red and fallow deer that roam within the boundary walls, whilst neighbouring Swithland Wood’s wildflower meadows and thriving wildlife are also a delight.
Much of this part of the Midlands was neglected and bruised by hundreds of years of coal mining and heavy industry. Yet today, the west of Leicestershire is at the heart of a tremendous rewilding project, known as the National Forest.
Some of the best hiking trails in Leicestershire are found within its borders, such as at Beacon Hill Country Park. This patchwork of hills, mixed woodland and wetlands boasts a charming variety, such as alpacas, 700-million-year-old rock formations and intriguing sculptures. The view across the surrounding countryside from the 804-foot (245 m) Beacon Hill, the site of a Bronze Age hill fort, is stupendous.
A definitive menu of walks in Leicestershire wouldn’t be complete without visiting the trails around Bosworth Battlefield. The War of the Roses ended here in 1485, when Henry Tudor defeated Richard III, ushering in the Tudor period.
Nearby, the sumptuous open grassland and woodland that makes up Market Bosworth Country Park rewards with yet more excellent walking. Visit in autumn when the Japanese maples are at their most vibrant in an arboretum that also boasts redwoods and Himalayan birches. Meanwhile, spring sees the woodland come to life with bluebells, fritillaries, ox-eye daisies, cowslips and primroses.
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