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Things to do in Leicestershire

Leicestershire - in the East Midlands of England - is a fascinating county to visit.

At its centre, situated on the River Soar and Grand Union Canal, is the county town and Cathedral City of Leicester.

St. Martins Cathedral in Leicester
St. Martins Cathedral in Leicester

This is a vibrant, multi-cultural place whose history can be traced back to Roman times.
Foundations of the Roman baths, with the wall of the Jews on the right, Leicester
Foundations of the Roman baths, with the wall of the Jews on the right, Leicester

It's a city which has moved with the times too - the National Space Centre is to be found here and it makes a fascinating contrast with the wealth of historical interest in the county.

University Campus, Leicester
University Campus, Leicester

A variety of guided tours of the city are available and these are great for first time visitors.

Leicestershire's countryside is varied: There are country parks, pretty villages and historic market towns along with plenty of attractions to interest all the family.

There are ample opportunities for walking, cycling and fishing.

The Leicestershire Tourist Information centre in Loughborough is the place to visit for information about the town and surrounding countryside.

All Saints Parish Church, Loughborough
All Saints Parish Church, Loughborough

The north of Leicestershire is dominated by the rocky crags and heath lands of Charnwood Forest.

The town of Anstey was historically the gateway to Charnwood Forest.

Old Packhorse Bridge on the outskirts of Anstey, Leicestershire
Old Packhorse Bridge on the outskirts of Anstey, Leicestershire

Once densely wooded, the forest was an important source of wood for the charcoal industry. Consequently, it was stripped over the years.

There is evidence of Roman and Saxon settlements to be found, along with medieval abbeys and ancient quarries.

Outwoods is a site of special scientific interest, situated on a high ridge overlooking Loughborough and the Soar Valley.

Today, the area encompasses several country parks (don't miss Bradgate Park with its folly called Old John), gardens and visitor attractions.

Old John On A Winters Day.
Old John On A Winters Day.

Fine views over the River Soar valley can be enjoyed from Mountsorrel and from Bardon Hill - the highest point.

The bell tower at Loughborough can be seen from Beacon Hill.

The National Forest is a new forest in the heart of England which covers a large part of north west Leicestershire.

Existing woodland is being augmented by planting new trees to create natural landscapes and habitats for wildlife. Visitors to the forest are encouraged to plant a new tree.

The visitor centre - 'Conkers' - is dedicated to the natural world and you can learn more about the National Forest here.

Best Villages in Leicestershire Chart

1. Glen ParvaManor House dating from 14526,189
2. WymeswoldMany listed Georgian buildings1,296
3. Peatling ParvaThatches Cottages181
4. MustonNature Reserve339

The nearby historic town Ashby de la Zouch, has fine Elizabethan half-timbered houses and delightful bow fronted Georgian shop fronts.

Ashby de la Zouch Castle was the inspiration for the setting of the tournament in the novel 'Ivanhoe' by Sir Walter Scott.

Ashby de la Zouch Castle
Ashby de la Zouch Castle

An outing along the Ashby Canal brings you to the 19th century blast furnace at Moira.

At Coalville, a former colliery has been transformed into the fascinating Snibston Discovery Park.

Ashby De La Zouch Canal near Burton Hastings
Ashby De La Zouch Canal near Burton Hastings

Leicestershire Tourism for the north east of the county can be found in Melton Mowbray.

You could enjoy one of the famous Melton Mowbray pies while you're here.

Mini Melton Mowbray pork pies on rustic wooden table
Mini Melton Mowbray pork pies on rustic wooden table

Other local specialities are delicious Stilton Cheese and Melton Hunt Cake.

The story of how these fit into the town's history can be found at the Melton Carnegie Museum.

Memorial gardens, Melton Mowbray
Memorial gardens, Melton Mowbray

The beautiful countryside of the Wolds is worth exploring - from the valley of the River Eye, to the Vale of Belvoir in the north.

Belvoir Castle
Belvoir Castle

Aerial view of central square in the town of Market Harborough
Aerial view of central square in the town of Market Harborough

South Leicestershire has tranquil, open countryside with tiny hamlets and little villages built of local ironstone.
Old Church Square in Market Harborough
Old Church Square in Market Harborough

A branch of the Grand Union Canal

Grand Union Basin, Market Harborough
Grand Union Basin, Market Harborough

links Leicester with the attractive town Market Harborough via uniquely engineered, multiple locks at Foxton.
Foxton Locks
Foxton Locks

In west Leicestershire you can visit the site of the decisive battle in the Wars of the Roses.

A view from Ambion Hill, part of the Battle of Bosworth
A view from Ambion Hill, part of the Battle of Bosworth

The Battle of Bosworth took place here in 1485. There is a visitor centre with a wealth of exhibits and information. These include models, flags, armour, a film theatre and trails to King Richard the III's well.
King Richard III Well
King Richard III Well

The market town of Market Bosworth can be found to the north. This is a pleasant town with thatched cottages, Georgian buildings and several specialist shops.

There are good family attractions in the area, such as Twycross Zoo, Bosworth Water Trust - a 50 acre leisure park - and Mallory Park racing circuit.

Penguin At Twycross Zoo
Penguin At Twycross Zoo

Days out in Leicestershire

  • Ashby de la Zouch Castle
    Ashby - a royalist stronghold. Tour the impressive ruins of a grand medieval castle within extensive and beautiful grounds.
    Ashby de la Zouch Castle
  • Ashby-de-la-Zouch Museum
    Ashby Museum re-opened on Easter Saturday 2007, with a new two-storey extension housing a Community Room and Archives Room, and two revamped Exhibition Galleries.
    Ashby-de-la-Zouch Museum
  • Barnsdale Gardens
    Barnsdale Gardens is a joy to visit; 38 themed gardens, ponds and woodlands nestled in a quiet corner of the beautiful Rutland countryside, but just 10 minutes from Stamford and the A1.
    Barnsdale Gardens
  • Belvoir Castle
    Belvoir Castle has been the ancestral home of the Duke and Duchess of Rutland for one thousand years. The name Belvoir means 'beautiful view' and dates from Norman times.
    Belvoir Castle
  • Charnwood Museum
    Charnwood Museum features a wide range of exhibits reflecting thehistory, geology, archaeology and industries of Charnwood and thesurrounding area. Permanent displays include 'Coming to Charnwoo
    Charnwood Museum
  • Donington le Heath Manor House
    Step back in time and experience how people really lived in Medieval, Tudor and Stuart Times at Donington le Heath Manor House.
    Donington le Heath Manor House
  • Gorse Hill City Farm
    Gorse Hill City Farm is a working farm with the opportunity to feed and touch the animals.
    Gorse Hill City Farm
  • Great Central Railway
    The Great Central Railway is Britain's only double track main line heritage railway. The stations of this railway are restored to different periods of the main line's history.
    Great Central Railway
  • Harborough Museum
    The Museum has been revamped to display one of the most significant Iron Age finds in Britain - the Hallaton Treasure!
    Harborough Museum
  • Leicester Racecourse
    Extending to 200 acres and steeped in more than 100 years of history, the Leicester Racecourse estate provides the perfect venue for the private or business client.
    Leicester Racecourse
  • Melton Carnegie Museum
    This exciting newly refurbished museum contains informative and innovative displays.
    Melton Carnegie Museum
  • National Gas Museum
    At the Gas Museum you will gain a fascinating insight into the story of gas past and present, with particular reference to the East Midlands region.
    National Gas Museum
  • National Space Centre
    The award winning National Space Centre is the UK's largest attraction dedicated to space.
    National Space Centre
  • Oakham Castle
    The splendid Great Hall of Oakham Castle is one of the finest examples of late 12th century domestic architecture in England.
    Oakham Castle
  • Rutland County Museum
    Rutland is England's smallest county - and Rutland County Museum is the perfect introduction to all that the area has to offer.
    Rutland County Museum
  • Stanford Hall
    Stanford, where Shakespeare's Avon flows gently through the Park, has been the home of the Cave family, ancestors of the present owner Lady Braye since 1430.
    Stanford Hall

Places to Visit in Leicestershire

  • Anstey
    Anstey's role as a southern gateway to the Charnwood Forest is shown by the 15th century Packhorse Bridge, just a mere 5 feet wide, straddling Rothley River.
  • Ashby de la Zouch
    The unusual name of Ashby de la Zouch is derived from the Breton nobleman, who inherited the estate through marriage in the 12th century. Ashby developed into a Spa town in the 19th century.
    Ashby de la Zouch
  • Aston Flamville
    Aston Flamville - The small church of St. Peters was considerably rebuilt in 1874, but retained one of the original Norman windows.
    Aston Flamville
  • Barrow-on-Soar
    Barrow is on the east bank of the Soar, with good mooring and shopping facilities, a pleasant stopping point for boaters. Barrow can trace its roots back to at least Roman times. The much restored Holy Trinity Church is of 14th century origin.
  • Birstall
    Birstall has become a major dormitory area for Leicester, but there are several examples of its earlier history in evidence.
  • Blaby
    Much of the older part of Blaby village has been designated as a conservation area. It includes the 12th century parish church of All Saints, a thatched and timbered inn dating from about 1485.
  • Brooksby
    Brooksby is now home to the county's Agricultural College, but was once the seat of the Villiers family. Its most famous son, George, born in 1592 at Brooksby, rose to be the favourite of two Stuart monarchs.
  • Cosby
    It is difficult to trace exactly where the name Cosby stems from, but it first appears in the Domesday Book when it was spelt by the scribes as Cossebi. Historian John Nicholls, writing in 1810, described it as a 'considerable village'.
  • Countesthorpe
    The name Countesthorpe comes from the 11th century when the area formed part of the marriage dowry of the Countess Judith niece of William the Conqueror, 'thorpe' having the gothic meaning of 'land'.
  • Croft
    Croft is a village of interest and character dominated by extensive quarry working which provide high quality granite. These workings are reputed to have been used for the Fosse Way.
  • Cropston
    Cropston is a picturesque village, close to the late 19th century reservoir, which takes its name from the village.
  • Elmesthorpe
    The parish of Elmesthorpe has strong connections with King Richard III and the Battle of Bosworth.
  • Enderby
    Enderby - The St. Johns area of the parish is separated from the main village, which is where the ancient village of Aldeby stood. Mentioned in the Domesday Book, this village was deserted probably in the 12th century.
  • Glen Parva
    Glen Parva - The Manor House is of interest, dating back to the 14th century and local records suggest that the ill-fated King Charles I stayed there after the Battle of Naseby.
    Glen Parva
  • Glenfield
    Glenfield has a prominent place in railway history, with the opening of the Swannington Leicester line, the first railway line south of Manchester.
  • Great Glen
    Great Glen is a historic village located in the beautiful South Leicestershire countryside. Perfect for a great day out, Great Glen offers visitors many things to visit/do, including: Wistow Maze and Rural centre, a large village Library
  • Kilby
    Kilby - A medieval village once surrounded the church at Kilby. The church itself was built on the site of an earlier structure in the year 1858.
  • Kirby Muxloe
    One of the country's most important monuments is in the parish of Kirby Muxloe. Built in the late 15th century by Lord Hastings, who was executed in 1483 before the building was completed, Kirby Muxloe Castle now has a Grade I listing.
    Kirby Muxloe
  • Leicester
    Leicester is one of the few cities in England that can trace its growth from the Iron Age. In Leicester you can travel through the ages, and learn about the history of the city in its excellent Museums, and by taking an Old Town Heritage Trail
  • Loughborough
    Loughborough, with its unique atmosphere and wealth of historic buildings, is the principal town of the Borough of Charnwood, which is one of the largest Boroughs within Leicestershire.
  • Lutterworth
    Lutterworth is an attractive town with some well preserved half-timbered buildings and an 18th century bridge, which spans the River Swift in a series of three arches.
  • Market Bosworth
    Market Bosworth, was recorded in the Domesday Book and has been an important market town since the middle ages. The famous Battle of Bosworth, which ended the Wars of the Roses in 1485, took place nearby.
    Market Bosworth
  • Market Harborough
    Market Harborough is a rare example of a planned medieval 'new town'. Market Harborough was created in the 12th century especially to be a market and promote local trade.
    Market Harborough
  • Melton Mowbray
    The Market town of Melton Mowbray in Leicestershire, perhaps most famous for its Pork Pies, is situated in Fox Hunting country, where the three hunts The Quorn, The Belvoir and the Cottesmore meet.
    Melton Mowbray
  • Mountsorrel
    Mountsorrel is situated on the old A6 route, seven miles north of Leicester and four miles from Loughborough.
  • Newtown Linford
    Newtown Linford is set against a backdrop of the Charnwood woodlands, making it a very photogenic village with its thatched dwellings and timbered style buildings.
    Newtown Linford
  • Normanton upon Soar
    Normanton on Soar is a small, pretty, well kept 12th century village which sits on the border of Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire.
    Normanton upon Soar
  • Norton juxta Twycross
    Norton juxta Twycross today is a quiet and peaceful little village in Leicestershire, close to the Warwickshire border and is bounded on the east side by the Ashby Canal.
  • Queniborough
    Queniborough is a pleasing conservation village with visible links back to the Civil War period. A 175 feet high crocketed spire, acknowledged by Pevsner to be one of the finest in Leicestershire, caps St. Mary's Church.
  • Quorn
    Quorn is known world-wide for its link with Hugo Meynell, a dominant figure in English foxhunting who lived at Quorn Hall from 1753-1800.
  • Ratcliffe
    Ratcliffe is sited between the banks of the River Wreake and the main A46 highway. Home to Ratcliffe College, started by Pugin in 1844 as the first Roman Catholic College in England since the Reformation.
  • Rothley
    Rothley is another stop on the Great Central Railway, a quiet village on the eastern edge of the Charnwood Forest, originally built around Rothley Brook, a tributary of the Soar.
  • Sapcote
    The name Sapcote could have an agricultural connection with Sheepcote or with Soapwell, a well in Station Road where in 1806 a bath house was built by John Frewen Turner.
  • Saxby
    The Great County of Leicestershire lies at the very heart of the nation with history woven into the very fabric of its landscape.
  • Seagrave
    Seagrave is situated just minutes from the busy A46; it is a secluded and picturesque village, with red roofed houses and distinctive church.
  • Shepshed
    Shepshed stands to the west of the M1 motorway and was formerly dominated by the hosiery industry. It still offers factory outlet shopping for knitwear and sports clothing.
  • Sileby
    Sileby is situated on the eastern side of the Soar Valley, it is a mix of residential and light industry.
  • Stoney Stanton
    Stoney Stanton has a long history of stone quarrying going back to the Romans. After the Second World War the quarrying business came to an end, but not before thousands of tons of rock had been extracted, leaving deep water filled areas.
  • Swithland
    Swithland is a pleasant Forest village close to both the Woods and Reservoir, which also bear its name. The village is known well beyond Charnwood for its dark blue slate, which produced roofing material from the times of the Romans to the 19th century.
  • Syston
    In Victorian times Syston was a busy cattle dealing town. There is still evidence of the late 18th century development in its conservation area around the parish church of St. Peter.
  • Thrussington
    Thrussington has some interesting 18th century properties surrounding the village green. It is the birthplace in 1782, of artist, John Ferneley, who depicted much of Leicestershire's 19th century hunting scene.
  • Thurcaston
    Thurcaston claims to be the birthplace of the martyred Tudor Bishop, Hugh Latimer. As a youth, he may well have been familiar with All Saints Church, parts of which date back to Norman times.
  • Walton-on-the-Wolds
    Walton-on-the-Wolds was the home in the 19th century of Augustus Hobart-Hampden, better known as Hobart Pasha, who had an adventurous naval career.
  • Whetstone
    Whetstone - The 1086 Domesday Survey records Whetstone as having 24 peasants, 11 villeins, one man at arms and a windmill.
  • Woodhouse Eaves
    Woodhouse Eaves is at the heart of the Charnwood Forest. Close to Beacon Hill (818 feet high), where once existed an Iron Age settlement.
  • Wymeswold
    Wymeswold lies a few miles to the north east of Loughborough. It is now a large and popular conservation village, with some fine Georgian buildings, over 30 of the houses are now Grade 2 listed buildings.

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