Another post that was written for Smitten by Britain back in 2010 and yet another favourite local place of ours to visit.
I was going to start off by saying that Bradgate Park is one of Leicestershire’s best kept secrets but then I read that it has a million visitors a year so that may well not be true!! Since I was a child Bradgate has been the place that we go to as a family for bike riding, fishing, dog walking and hiking, no matter what the weather. Glorious in Summer and beautifully wild in Winter, it’s a truly awesome place all year round.
Bradgate was originally created as a hunting park around 750 years ago from Charnwood Forest. The park is 840 acres and once you are surrounded by the slopes, bracken and rocks, it’s hard to believe that you are only six miles from the Centre of Leicester. There are three different routes into the park and each one is vastly different.
From the lovely village of Newton Linford with its pretty thatched cottages and lovely pubs, you can take the route along the River Lin down to Cropston Reservoir. This is the favoured route for most people as its easy and very scenic. The river is shallow enough in places for us all to paddle and break out the fishing nets to catch tiddlers......only in summer obviously being England ;-) One of the things that I like most about the park is that everyone is friendly, something that can’t often be said about the streets of England!
The park also contains the ruins of Bradgate House home of the nine day Queen, Lady Jane Grey. The Grey family were related to Henry VIII and in 1553 Lady Jane married the Son of the Duke of Northumberland. After the death of her cousin Edward VI she was proclaimed Queen only to lose the throne nine days later and then executed for treason. The ruins hold a chapel which contains the tomb of the Grey family and a small exhibition.
Deer have been kept at the Park almost since it was first designated as a hunting park. There are certain areas of the park that are for the deer only but generally there is no problem with seeing them as they mingle among the ramblers.
Another route into the park is up the hill to Old John Tower. Old John is a folly that was built around 1784 and stands 700 feet above sea level. The views of Leicestershire from here are amazing and you can even see Old John when travelling North on the M1. It’s also a brilliant hill for sledding down in winter!!!
If you are ever in the area then be sure to give me a call and I’ll take you on a tour!! The park is free and you only need to pay for parkign which is about £4 for the entire day regardless of amount of people. There is some on street parking too if you don't want to pay the parking fee. I always do pay as the money goes to the upkeep of the park but that's just a personal preference.
Photo credit - Bradgate from the Air - Avril Hunt and Old John Folley - David Elliott. Both used with permission.