Short Breaks in Leicestershire

Leicestershire: A Beautiful County

Leicestershire is a tapestry of unspoiled landscapes and a treasure trove of British history.

It’s a destination that offers a perfect escape from the hustle and bustle, where the pastoral beauty of the English countryside meets a rich cultural heritage. From the echoing halls of historical castles to the gentle hills of the National Forest, Leicestershire invites travellers to step into a world where the past and present dance in harmony.

Whether you’re looking to unravel the mysteries of the War of the Roses or simply seeking a peaceful retreat among the rolling hills and tranquil waterways, Leicestershire is a place that promises discoveries for every kind of visitor.

It’s on short breaks in Leicestershire that one can walk in the footsteps of kings, explore quaint market towns, and indulge in the local gastronomy that makes the county a hidden gem in the English Midlands.

Footbridge in Leicestershire.
Footbridge over the Wreake near Thrussington Mill. Photo © Alan Murray-Rust (cc-by-sa/2.0)

Why Short Breaks in Leicestershire?

Short breaks in Leicestershire offer a blend of tranquil countryside, thrilling historical tales, and family-friendly attractions.

It’s a region where a weekend can be as leisurely or as action-packed as desired. Visitors are drawn to the area for its accessibility and variety.

Within its bounds, you can discover the storied past of Leicester, seeing how modern multicultural vibrancy seamlessly integrates with ancient Roman foundations. Meanwhile, the countryside provides a restful backdrop, ideal for walking, cycling, and soaking in the natural beauty.

The county also boasts a rich culinary heritage, with Melton Mowbray known as the birthplace of the pork pie and Stilton cheese, making it a haven for foodies.

For history enthusiasts, the Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre brings to life the dramatic events of 1485 where King Richard III met his end. In contrast, the National Space Centre provides a modern-day journey into the stars, proving that Leicestershire truly has something for everyone.

Viewpoint on Bosworth battlefield in Leicestershire.
A viewpoint at Bosworth battlefield, Leicestershire. Photo © Oliver Dixon (cc-by-sa/2.0).

How To Get To Leicestershire

Leicestershire’s charm is not just in its rolling hills and historical landmarks, but also in its exceptional connectivity.

Positioned at the country’s heart, it’s a crossroads for various travel routes, making it an ideal pit stop or a central base for exploring the wider regions of England.

  • By Car: The M1 motorway, slicing through the county, connects drivers directly to and from London, Leeds, and Nottingham.
  • By Train: Major rail lines offer swift and stress-free journeys. Direct trains from London St Pancras to Leicester run frequently, with the journey taking just over an hour.
  • By Air: East Midlands Airport serves as a domestic and European hub, with flights linking Leicestershire to the continent.
  • By Bus: National Express coaches and local buses provide affordable and direct services to major towns and cities.
  • Cycling: Leicestershire is cyclist-friendly, boasting routes like National Cycle Network Route 6 for a scenic and eco-friendly travel option.

Average Driving Times To Leicestershire

Starting PointAverage Driving Time
LondonApprox. 2 hours 30 minutes
BirminghamApprox. 1 hour
ManchesterApprox. 2 hours 15 minutes
NottinghamApprox. 50 minutes
SheffieldApprox. 1 hour 15 minutes

Discovering the Jewel of Leicestershire: The National Forest

Leicestershire’s pride, The National Forest, stands as a testament to nature’s splendour and human ingenuity. Spanning 200 square miles, this verdant expanse was once scarred by industry but has been transformed into a thriving woodland, offering an escape to a green sanctuary.

As one of the country’s boldest environmental projects, The National Forest intertwines through three counties, with Leicestershire at its core. It presents a mosaic of habitats, from new woodland and ancient forests to parklands and wetlands, each an invitation to outdoor enthusiasts.

Here, the historical meets the ecological, with the forest trails leading to archaeological sites and the preserved Moira Furnace Museum, a relic of the industrial age now bounded by flourishing greenery.

The National Forest also serves as an adventurous playground. It boasts activities that cater to all ages and interests, including gentle walks, cycling paths, and even the thrill of treetop adventures at Conkers.

Educational programs imbue visitors with knowledge and passion for forestry and conservation, ensuring that a visit is not just recreational but also enlightening.

This remarkable transformation of the landscape encapsulates the spirit of regeneration and sustainable tourism. It demonstrates how responsible environmental stewardship can create a resource for leisure, learning, and biodiversity, all while contributing to the health of the planet.

As you leave the tranquility of the forest, other notable attractions await. The historic Ashby de la Zouch Castle, the vibrant market towns, and the Battle of Bosworth Field are but a short journey away, each offering their unique slice of Leicestershire’s rich tapestry.

In embracing The National Forest, you experience the essence of Leicestershire—a blend of natural beauty, history, and conservation that makes for a truly memorable short break.

Ashby Castle is a wonderful day out for all ages. Photo © Alan Murray-Rust (cc-by-sa/2.0)

Activities in Leicestershire

Leicestershire offers a broad array of activities, ensuring that visitors of all stripes can find something to pique their interest.

For the history lovers, a journey through time awaits at Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre, where the past is brought vividly to life. It’s a place to immerse oneself in the tumultuous period of the Wars of the Roses and understand a pivotal point in British history.

If you’re seeking an adrenaline rush, the famed Donington Park racing circuit provides high-octane experiences with its race events and track days. Motor enthusiasts and speed seekers can revel in the roar of engines and the spectacle of racing at a venue steeped in motorsport legend.

Nature enthusiasts will find solace in the county’s rolling countryside and parks. Bradgate Park, with its deer herds and the ruins of Lady Jane Grey’s house, is perfect for a leisurely stroll or a family picnic. The park’s ancient rocks and the River Lin offer picturesque scenes that photographers and painters alike will adore.

For families, Twycross Zoo is a must-visit, with its extensive collection of primates and commitment to conservation. Children can learn about wildlife from around the world, engaging with creatures great and small, making it an educational and fun day out.

Leicestershire also caters to the creative minds. The Curve theatre in Leicester city provides a cultural fix with its contemporary performances and shows. It’s a hub for the arts, offering a diverse program that ranges from musicals and dramas to dance and comedy.

From historical discovery and motorsport thrills to serene nature and cultural treats, Leicestershire’s activities paint a vibrant picture, promising that every visitor leaves with lasting memories.

Donnington Park racing track.
Looking for a thrill on your break? Try Donnington Park racing track. Photo © Neil Theasby (cc-by-sa/2.0)

Must-Visit Places in Leicestershire

Leicestershire, a tapestry of historical splendour and natural beauty, is replete with destinations that stand as testimonies to both its rich heritage and its verdant landscapes.

Each location offers a unique slice of the county’s character, inviting exploration and discovery.

  • Leicester Cathedral: Standing at the city’s heart, this architectural marvel is not only a place of worship but also the resting place of King Richard III. The cathedral’s history stretches back over a millennium, offering a tranquil space amidst the urban hustle.
  • The National Space Centre: An out-of-this-world experience for all ages, this leading attraction takes you on a cosmic journey through interactive exhibits and immersive planetarium shows, celebrating space exploration’s past, present, and future.
  • Belvoir Castle: Perched high above the Vale of Belvoir, this stately home offers stunning views and a treasure trove of art, history, and architecture. It’s a storybook castle that brings to life the grandeur of bygone eras.
  • Foxton Locks: This engineering marvel of the Grand Union Canal is the largest flight of staircase locks in England. The surrounding countryside provides a scenic backdrop for a leisurely walk or a lazy day by the water.
  • Great Central Railway: Step back in time on the UK’s only double track, main line heritage railway. Steam enthusiasts can ride lovingly restored locomotives through the county’s picturesque heart.
  • Bradgate Park: A historic deer park with wild herds roaming amidst the bracken. Explore the ruins of Bradgate House and enjoy the rugged charm of the ancient landscape.
  • Twinlakes Park: With thrilling rides and various attractions, it’s a family-friendly adventure park that ensures a fun-filled day for children and the young at heart.
Belvoir Castle in Leicestershire
Belvoir Castle should be on your list of Leicestershire attractions. Photo © David P Howard (cc-by-sa/2.0).

Leicestershire Towns To Visit

Leicestershire towns are as varied as they are vibrant, each brimming with its own unique charm and stories.

These pockets of community life offer visitors an opportunity to experience local traditions, culinary delights, and the subtle quirks that define the English countryside.

  • Loughborough: Known for its bustling market and as the home to the world’s largest bell foundry, Loughborough is vibrant and steeped in industrial heritage. The town is also the gateway to the Great Central Railway, offering nostalgic train rides through the county.
  • Market Harborough: This quintessential market town is renowned for its historic buildings and specialty shopping. The town centre, radiating from the stately St. Dionysius Church, offers an inviting mix of independent shops and cosy cafés.
  • Melton Mowbray: Dubbed the ‘Rural Capital of Food,’ this town is famed for its culinary contributions, namely the Melton Mowbray pork pie and Stilton cheese. Weekly markets and food festivals are a food lover’s paradise.
  • Hinckley: This town’s rich framework knitting history is preserved in its museums, while the modern Hinckley is known for its dynamic retail experience and the delightful Hollycroft Park.
  • Ashby-de-la-Zouch: Ashby-de-la-Zouch’s historical roots are evident in its castle ruins and ancient bathhouse. The town centre is a hub for antiques enthusiasts and those seeking local crafts and arts.
  • Oadby: Oadby is notable for its multicultural vibrancy and the renowned University of Leicester Botanic Garden, a peaceful sanctuary of plant diversity and artistic sculptures.

These towns are more than just stops on a map; they are the lifeblood of Leicestershire, offering a genuine connection to the heart of England.

Grand Union Canal, Market Harborough.
Grand Union Canal, Market Harborough. Photo © Stephen McKay (cc-by-sa/2.0)

Travel Tips for Visiting Leicestershire

Setting off on a journey through Leicestershire promises an adventure filled with diversity, from the urban landscapes of Leicester city to the tranquil countryside.

To make the most of your visit, consider these insider tips that can help navigate and enhance your experience.

  • Weather-Proof Your Journey: With Leicestershire’s unpredictable weather, be prepared. Carry a waterproof jacket and umbrella – essential items to shield you from sudden downpours.
  • Choose Comfortable Footwear: Whether you’re exploring the historical streets of Leicester or trekking through the serene countryside, comfortable shoes are a non-negotiable.
  • Embrace the Freedom of a Car Rental: For those off-the-beaten-path destinations, consider hiring a car. It offers the freedom to discover Leicestershire’s hidden nooks and crannies at your own pace.
  • Indulge in Local Delicacies: Don’t miss out on trying a slice of the famous Melton Mowbray pork pie or a chunk of Red Leicester cheese. Local farmers’ markets and pubs are your go-to spots for these authentic tastes.
  • Engage with the Local Scene: Keep an eye out for local events and festivals. They’re a fantastic way to experience the county’s rich cultural tapestry.
  • Consult the Locals: For the best dining spots and must-see locations, local knowledge is invaluable. A casual conversation with a resident could lead you to the best meal you’ll have or a hidden gem you might otherwise miss.

Leicestershire: Weekend Break Heaven

As your Leicestershire adventure draws to a close, you carry with you a treasure trove of memories from this captivating heart of England.

From the exhilaration of tracing history through ancient ruins and vibrant festivals to the tranquillity of its verdant countryside, Leicestershire melds tradition with a contemporary buzz, ensuring there’s something to charm every traveller.

The county’s gastronomy, architecture, and landscapes have narrated tales of a rich and dynamic heritage that continues to evolve, inviting visitors to be a part of its unfolding story.

In conclusion, Leicestershire offers an invigorating blend of adventure and serenity, making it an ideal choice for those seeking a break from the routine.

Whether it’s the lure of Leicester’s city life or the allure of the rural idylls, a short break in this part of the country promises to rejuvenate and inspire.

With these experiences etched in your heart, Leicestershire isn’t just a place you visited; it’s a journey you lived, and a narrative you’ll continue to tell.

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