Wild places

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.

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.

The arboretum was established in 1970 by Leicester City Council. The area covers 10.5 hectares and is open to the public. Between 1970 and 1973 over 500 tree specimens were planted, mostly in taxonomic family groups. Memorial trees continue to be planted on the site. The site is bisected by the Evington Brook and St. Denys Church borders the northern boundary. Piggy's Hollow, the site of a demolished manor house, adjoins the Areboretum in the north east corner.

The main woodland comprises one of the best remaining examples of ash and alder woodland in Leicestershire, and is representative of ancient woodland developed on clay soils in Central and Eastern England. This area is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). Younger woodland lies on the western edge and the large field between has now been planted as a new woodland to join the two areas.

This small site is owned by the National Forest Company and has recently been planted with young trees to create a new woodland patch within the Heart of the National Forest.

Skeffington Wood is part of the larger Leighfield Forest Site of Special Scientific Interest and consists of broadleaved mixed woodland.

Created in 1885, Spinney Hill Park is 34 acres of sloping parkland with many trees and some 'wild' areas. It is bisected by the Willow Brook which has been re-landscaped in areas to create a more natural profile.

The oldest building in the suburb of Belgrave, Leicester is St Peter’s church of which parts date back to the 12th century when the church was much smaller than the present building.

The church has been closed for approximately five years, but the churchyard is open to members of the public and to enable access to the Garden of Remembrance created for the internment of ashes of local families who have a general connection with the parish of St Peters.

Stafford Orchard is a small park in the centre of Quorn. The site is primarily a grassed area, and also includes a sensory garden, children's play areas and wooden sculptures. Buddon Brook runs along the south-eastern perimeter of the site, providing an important natural feature for wildlife in the area.

Stanford Reservoir straddles the borders of Leicestershire and Northamptonshire with the larger part in Northamptonshire. It is the base of the Stanford Ringing Group so generates lots of records.

Stonesby Quarry is owned by the Leicestershire & Rutland Wildlife Trust and  covers 4 ha. It is part of a Site of Special Scientific Interest. The reserve is part of a worked-out quarry on soft Jurassic lower Lincolnshire limestone. Although the area is small, parts of the site have developed an important limestone grassland community, rare in Leicestershire. 

Swadlincote Woodlands is an attractive greenspace close to the town centre with excellent access for people. Over the past 20 years a former landfill and open cast site has been transformed into 33 hectares of woodland. The park includes open space, woodlands, play areas and a point for viewing across the town and valley. A network of footpaths criss-cross the site and link to existing access points.

The reservoir, built around 1896, lies just south of Quorn, and is about a mile long by half a mile wide. The Great Central Railway divides the reservoir into two; the northern section is the larger. There is no access to the reservoir margins, but both sections are easily viewed from public roads.

Swithland Wood is located on the edge of Charnwood Forest. It lies some 6 miles north west of Leicester and some 7 miles south of Loughborough, and near to the east entrance to Bradgate Park.The wood is ancient oak woodland covering 146 acres and a remnant of the original Charnwood Forest Oak Woods. It is rich in a wide range of flora and fauna and has an extensive network of footpaths. Within the wood are former Swithland slate quarries.

Syston Lake has been owned by the Leicestershire & Rutland Wildlife Trust since 2011. The site is part of the important River Soar corridor and contains open water and grassland on restored former gravel workings. 

Created in the early 1990’s as part of the commercial development of land to the south west of Lubbesthorpe Way. The area was designed to prevent rain run-off from the development overloading the Lubbesthorpe Brook. Previously the land was grazing fields but was “sculptured” to form a large dry lagoon. Several locations were planted with a variety of trees and shrubs, most not native to UK!

The Miles Piece covers 0.7 ha and is owned by the Leicestershire & Rutland Wildlife Trust. Donated to the trust in 1978, this is the smallest of their reserves (roughly the same size as a football pitch). This is a tranquil spot alive with birdsong in a sea of agricultural fields.

This site is an area of unimproved grassland with stands of sedge situated alongside the River Soar. It also features hedgerows, ditches and boggy ground including a previous water course.  The fields are the core area of what was once a larger Aylestone Bog, part of which is now buried under the playing fields to the west. (See Arthur E. Wade ‘Flora of Aylestone and Narborough Bogs’ in Leicester Literary & Philosophical Society transactions XX (1919).) It is maintained through grazing by English Longhorn cattle during the summer months.

Thomas Estley Community College is located in the centre of Broughton Astley village, serving 11 - 14 year olds. TECC is a modern school with a large green space, used mainly as playing fields but with a few mature trees and hedges along some its boundaries. We have included TECC as a Wild Space because of the special interest by the staff and pupils in learning more about the wildlife on their site and their support for the Broughton Astley NatureSpot development.

These meadows are long-establish and unimproved meadows which are being restored through an appropriate mowing regime. The Leicestershire Round footpath cuts across the site. A playground and multi-use games area have been built in part of the site and the north-east corner has been flattened as a football area. However the surrounding meadows are wonderfully rich.

Owned by Severn Trent Water, Thornton Reservoir was opened to the public in 1997. Excellent for bird watching with good access via the circular walk around the reservoir.