This page enables you to search for some of the best places to see wildlife in Leicestershire and Rutland. It's not comprehensive but we will keep adding new sites as we get records and images. If you have a favourite site that you would like to see added, let us know.
You can use the filters below to find sites in your district or parish, or type any part of the site name to search for a particular site. Just click on APPLY when you have entered your selection. Alternatively you can browse the full list below.
Hicks Lodge and Newfields are former coal mining sites that have been totally transformed by landscape reclamation projects. Along with Shellbrook Wood and surrounding areas, these sites offer some of the most ecologically interesting habitats found within the Heart of the National Forest.
This 141 hectare site is Leicestershire's largest semi-natural ancient woodland. It has been a Site of Special scientific Interest (SSSI) since 1956. It is managed by the Forestry Commission who are restoring the woodland to the traditional broadleaf habitat that existed centuries ago as part of the 'Ancient Woodlands Plan'. This involves removing planted conifers and allowing native trees to regenerate and eventually reintroducing coppicing.
Pickworth Great Wood is one of the largest remaining blocks of deciduous woodland in Leicestershire and Rutland and is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). The wood occupies an undulating hilltop site on the Rutland/Lincolnshire border and lies mainly on rich, heavy clay soils where drainage is locally impeded.
Woodland and hedges border the burial ground, and a meadow of primrose, cowslips and oxeye daisy has been sown and hundreds of native trees planted. Additional trees are being planted as more graves are used, to eventually create wildlife-rich woodland with flowery glades.
This nature reserve has been developed and is managed by the Leicestershire Wildfowlers Association. Most of the reserve is private (though permits can be purchased) but a public right of way runs through the site. It is a large area covering around 200 acres and comprises rough grassland, scrub and created wildflower meadows surrounding two central lakes. It is a very rich site for both birds and insects and one of the best areas for dragonflies in the two counties.
This is a large field owned by Jelsons Ltd but they were not allowed to develop it despite showing it as a new housing site in the late 1950’s early 60’s. The name is derived from the locals belief in the 1970’s that any purchaser, i.e. the Local Authority, would have to pay as if the land had had houses built on it!
Ratby Burroughs is in two parts: the southern part of fairly new plantations and the northern part, ancient woodlands with carpets of wood anemones and bluebells during the season. Both are part of the New National Forest.
The Parish Church of St. Philip and St. James has Norman origins. A Yew tree outside the main entrance has been approximately dated and is believed to be around 2,000 years old, suggesting there may have been an older place of worship at this site. The churchyard is mainly mown grass with many headstones, the older ones are made of slate.
This stretch of disused railway line runs between Ratby and Glenfield. Though the original line is broken by an industrial estate a connecting path joins up the two parts. For most of its length it runs parallel with the Rothley Brook and the section that flows under the motorway is included in this site. Much of it is shaded by overhanging trees but in places there is a grassy flora and the bordering field margins add further interest.
Although called Ratby Meadow this site is actually located in the parish of Enderby. It is open access land consisting of a large grazing/hay field next to the River Soar and is prone to some flooding in winter.
This small, created pond sits in a triangle of meadow grassland and trees on the edge of Ratby. The pond itself supports a good variety of life and the surrounding habitats attracts birds and insects. We have set the boundary to include the adjacent meadow which has recently had paths added to provide public access. This field includes a drainage pond to capture and store water in times of heaving rain. The basin therefore offers an interesting marshy habitat, though it often dries out.
The best nature reserve in Leicestershire and Rutland, the Egleton site is the largest of several key wildlife sites around the reservoir. This reserve, together with the Lyndon reserve and Burley Fishponds is owned by Anglian Water and managed by the Wildlife Trust. The entire reserve area is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, a Ramsar site and a European Special Protection Area. It covers 315.6 ha.
This reservoir was originally built to supply the nearby Grand Union Canal and a feeder channel runs between the two. A footpath runs between the channel and a small stream, giving access to the channel and several damp, marshy areas. The reservoir and area around it is particularly good for dragonflies as well as birds.
Saltersford Valley is a 7 ha site in the Heart of the National Forest which has open water areas known as ‘flashes’. These result from mining subsidence that causes the Saltersford Brook to flood. There are sites planted with new native woodland and open areas managed as grassland, which feature wild flowers. The site was designated as a Local Nature Reserve in 2004.
This 60-hectare site is a former open-cast coal mine, which has been transformed with extensive tree planting and the creation of lakes, interlinked with a series of paths. There are good facilities for disabled visitors. At the centre of the site are a series of small lakes, some managed for wildlife and some for fishing. A hide overlooks one of the lakes. Large areas of conifers and mixed deciduous trees have been planted so this habitat should improve over time.