Get up and get out – where to go post lockdown!
As lockdown is slowly easing, it’s the best time to soak up the summer and explore your local hood – make the most of your local countryside and head to places you’ve heard about but never been to. Here’s a few suggestions to get you started.
Yew Trees Avenue, Rutland
The fascinating yet tranquil Yew Tree Avenue at Clipsham is over 200 years old, consisting of over 150 clipped Yew Trees in all manner of unusual shapes. Once the carriage driveway to Clipsham Hall, the Avenue, which costs nothing to visit, is now a pleasant place to sit and perhaps enjoy a picnic.
Rockingham Gardens, Market Harborough
The glorious gardens are now open to visit on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays 10.30 – 4.30pm. Tickets must be pre-booked in advance obvs and refreshments will be available from the Takeout Tea Room. There are some 18 acres of gardens largely following the foot print of the medieval castle. The vast 400 year old “Elephant Hedge” bisects the formal 17th century terraced gardens. Wild Garden includes many trees and shrubs including the remarkable Handkerchief Tree.
Expect a different experience if you plan to visit Twycross Zoo. Firstly, bookings will have to be made online and in advance with time slots so when you arrive, expect to see lots of extra safety measures in place including a one-way system. Once here, you can see the chimpanzees, giraffes, tigers, penguins, flamingos, rhinos and more. If that wasn’t enough, you’ll soon also be able to watch watch and listen to rangers giving live animal talks.
Paddle this way for a champagne picnic on the River Soar or a twilight paddle to get your fix of fun before the sunsets. Let’s Get Lost Leicester are offering mini adventures on Leicestershire’s waterways from 27 June where groups of 6 can hire out kayaks or up to a group of 5 with a tour guide. Bookings can be done online.
It’s hard to find a more beautiful spot than Bradgate Park. It’s now open again so you can cycle past the ruins of the former home of Lady Jane Grey or watch the herds of deer roam the historic parkland. Parking charges apply.
Foxton Locks is open and has been pretty much throughout lockdown. The car parks and toilets are open as are both cafes on-site but the museum and pub, Foxton Locks Inn are closed. The locks are home to two amazing feats of engineering in the heart of Leicestershire inc the longest and steepest staircase locks in the UK – a magnificent, if slightly weird, piece of Victorian engineering. If you didn’t know, now you do! Grab a spot and enjoy a picnic while here.
An opportunity to explore the historic site where King Richard III died in battle. Walk the 2km Battlefield Trail with panoramic views over the landscape and audio and visual information about the battle and fab network of footpaths. Entrance to the Country Park is free but there is a £2.50 parking charge.
As a remnant of the Charnwood Forest Oak Woods, Swithland consists principally of mature oak, birch, alder and lime, which support a rich variety of butterflies, moths and birds. There’s a good network of waymarked footpaths and riding tracks extend throughout the wood and link directly to Bradgate Park.
Set on a former coal mining site that has been totally transformed by new plantings and exciting trails for you to enjoy. Walkers and cyclists will be pleased to know the the trails are now open and there’s a range for beginner to intermediate appetites. NB the cafe, horse loop and play area are closed.
Great place to stretch your legs and you can also run and cycle here. Families visiting the park can enjoy picnics and King Lear’s Lake.
Even though the castle is closed, the gardens are now open to enjoy at the weekend and kids get in free. The Japanese Woodland features over 250 specimen camellias to admire along with tree magnolias, specimen hydrangeas, azaleas and rhododendrons, snake-bark and Japanese maples, and various bamboos. There’s also the Duchess and Formal Garden, where the roses were planted by Emma, the current Duchess of Rutland.
This country park sits within the National Forest and amazingly is situated on the site of a former open cast mine. Today you can see the River Sence and three major lakes here all of which attract a wide variety of wildfowl. Large areas of the site are planted with Corsican pine, larch and poplars. Meadows and open glades in the woodland also provide habitats for a variety of wildlife, including birds, insects and butterflies.
Gorgeous gardens to enjoy here – parts of the original 1802 gardens remain, but much of the 15 acres of mixed woodland and garden areas was laid out much later. There’s trails leading through shaded trees as well as a myriad of paths lead through the woodland garden, abundance of flowering shrubs and ornamental trees. £5 entry and kids free.
Rutland Nature Reserve
Reopened this week, the water reserve features over 300 acres of wild wetland and is a fabulous places to bird watch plus there’s plenty of woodland to explore too.
Rutland Water Golf Course is open to members and non-members, pre-booking is essential. With panoramic views of Rutland Water and a choice of an 18 hole Championship Normanton course or nine par 3 holes on the Hambleton course. The clubhouse remains shut. Elsehwhere, Greetham Valley Golf Course Leicester Golf Centre and Ullesthorpe Course is also open now, Charnwood Forest Golf Club is open for members only.