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.
zoom into the map and click on any site to show its details below,
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Key:Wild Places (outlined in red); Public Rights of Way (green); county boundaries (blue), parish boundaries (lilac)
Map Key: Wild Places (outlined in red); Public Rights of Way (green); VC55 boundary (blue)
This section of the Ashby Canal skirts around the western edge of Stoke Golding.
The Ashby Canal is 31 miles long and connects the former mining area of Moira to the Coventry Canal. It opened in 1804 and serviced the collieries but over many years the section north of Snarestone was affected by mining subsidence and was eventually closed to navigation. A restoration programme has recently led to a part reopening but work continues. As some of the original canal had been filled in and built over a new section is being constructed around Measham.
This group of reclaimed greenspaces includes 5 very different sites covering a wide area of land formally used for heavy industry. This section of the Ashby Woulds Trail links the sites together and includes Sarah’s Wood which was planted in 1995 with designed for access for all, and the Moira Furnace Industrial Heritage site.
The village of Ashwell is situated 3 miles north of Oakham, and the churchyard lies in the north of the village. The oldest fabric of the church dates from the 12th century, but most of the church dates to the 13th and 14th centuries. The churchyard is flat and elevated from the road, with a number of tree species, particularly towards the western end.
Astill Lodge Park and Spinney is one of the smaller areas of Open Space found in Leicester and covers approximately 4.6 ha. Although used historically for hunting deer, then grazing sheep as part of the much larger Beaumont Estate, the site has had a mixed history. In 1890 it formed part of the Beaumont Leys Sewerage system, but then reverted to farmland with the small spinney planted in the early 1900s and extended in 1916 to the boundary still in place today. In the 1970s the site was used as a domestic refuse site with parts of the old Astill Lodge farms knocked down and debris sprea
The Attenborough Arboretum site occupies about five acres and forms part of the land that used to belong to Home Farm. (The old farm house still exists nearby and has been converted into maisonettes.) The arboretum features possibly the only surviving example in the city of a mediaeval ridge-and-furrow field and also contains two large ponds.The arboretum was opened on 23rd April 1997. About 20 local schools helped in the planting phase in March 1996, and over 40 attended the grand opening ceremony, conducted by Sir David Attenborough, after whose family the arboretum is named.
Aylestone Meadows is the best area for wildlife within the city of Leicester. It is a sizeable green wedge along the River Soar and Grand Union Canal and is also bisected by the former Great Central Railway line - now a popular walking and cycling route. In the past, a large area of the flood meadows was used as a landfill site and today the landscaped mound is used as a sports pitch. The mixture of aquatic habitats, grazed meadows, ponds and rough grassland provides a rich and diverse habitat for much wildlife.
The small village of Ayston is a mile north-west of Uppingham, just off the A47. St Mary the Virgin Church dates to the 13th century but has had some later additions. The church and churchyard are set away from the road behind houses.
Less than a mile south of Bagworth, towards Merry Lees and Desford, this 75 hectare (185 acre) Country Park has been tranformed from scarred industrial landscape of Desford Colliery into a valuable recreational resource. Owned and managed by Leicestershire County Council Bagworth Heath Woods are made up of woodland, grassland, heathland, lakes and ponds.
This wood lies to the north-west of Bagworth village. The 26ha wood was a National Forest Company Tender Scheme winner in 2000. The woodland is predominantly a commercial poplar crop with woody shrubs to add diversity and wildlife habitat. A large area of wetland has been retained. Groups of native Black Poplar have been planted in the wetter areas by the pond.
A permissive riding route has been created around the perimeter of part of the site and a new dedicated footpath links existing Rights of Way across the site to those to the west.
Bardon Hill, near Coalville, is the highest point in Leicestershire, 278 metres (912 feet) above sea level. The hill has two very distinct faces – one half preserved as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), the other removed by Bardon Hill Quarry. It is also the site of a radio mast. Though it is the highest point in Leicestershire, it is easy to get to the top and the summit offers tremendous views across the county plus a dramatic vista over the adjacent quarry.
This ancient woodland covering 28 ha and is part of the Rutland Water SSSI. The wood is situated on Upper Lias clay and formerly lay within a Medieval deer park. It was partly destroyed through construction of the reservoir. It is a neglected coppice of the Peterken Ash-Maple, Ash-Hazel, Pedunculate Oak-Hazel and Invasive Elm types but has been partly planted with conifers.
Designated a Local Wildlife Site in 2004, the site is a narrow grass verge that opens onto wider slopes and stretches of grassland comprising the village green. A stone-lined duck pond has been dug in part of it.
Designated a Local Wildlife Site in 2005, Seaton Road verge is 94 metres in length, and 1-2 metres in depth between the tarmac and a hedgerow. The main recorded habitats are grassland and tall herbs, and although generally species-poor, the site does support Danewort, a Red Data Book species.
Covering an area of 3.23 ha (7.98 acres), Battram Turn North is located beside the recycling centre (once the quarry) in Ellistown. It was bought from British Coal in 1994 to create a pocket park for both nature conservation and informal recreation. The project was also funded by the Rural Development Commission and the Landmark North West Countryside Project. Enclosed by hedgerow, the site offers an area of open access.
Several woods adjoin to make this site an extensive woodland area of significant wildlife interest. Battram Wood is a 48ha site purchased by the Royal Forestry Society with grant aid from the National Forest Company, North West Leicestershire County Council and the Rural Development Commission. Planted between 1998 and 2001, Battram Wood is intended to demonstrate best practice in managing woodland for multiple uses. Cricket bat willows will be harvested in about 20 years, followed by poplar, thereby ensuring sustainable income for the site.
At 248m, the summit of Beacon Hill Country Park is the 2nd highest in Leicestershire and boasts panoramic views across the county and beyond. The park covers 135 hectares and includes woodland, heathland, grassland, and wildflower meadows.
Belgrave Hall was built in the early 18th century, in what was then a small village three miles from the City of Leicester. John Throsby described the Hall in his ‘Excursions in Leicestershire’ in 1790 as “a neat little box in the midst of Flora’s pleasure”. The formal gardens are protected by high red brick walls which shelter a variety of shrubs and climbers, including a magnificent Wisteria sinensis, reputed planted by John Ellis in 1860.