Bradgate Park and Swithland Wood

After returning to my home town of Leicester on the 17th of this month, me and my boyfriend visited one of the most popular parks to visit for a country experience away from the busier town.

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Bradgate Park was first enclosed as a deer park around 800 years ago.  Extending to 830 acres of publicly accessible countryside the Park has a wild and rugged aspect that you do not expect to find so close to the city with dramatic rocky outcrops and gnarled old oak trees, many of which are well over 500 years old. If you do not fancy tramping over the hills, the lower part of the Park is easily accessible with a tarmac driveway running through the middle that is mainly traffic-free. The River Lin runs through the Lower Park and is a popular spot to sit.

What attracts people to the park;

  • The ruins of Bradgate House – one of the earliest brick-built country houses in England and the birthplace and childhood home of Lady Jane Grey, Queen of England for Nine Days in 1553.
  • Old John Tower – this 18th Century folly sits on the highest point of the Park and is one of Leicestershire’s most famous landmarks.
  • The Visitor Centre – located in the middle of the Park, the exhibitions here tell the story of Bradgate and its fascinating natural and human history.
  • The Park’s amazing landscape – in fact you can’t miss it but every time you visit you will find it looks different
  • The Deer Herd

Red deer are the largest British land mammal.  They are descended from the stags and hinds that crossed from Europe after the Ice Age.  From Saxon times hunting rights were granted to the English Nobles and tracts of land were fenced to capture some of the wild deer.

It is now the only remaining enclosed medieval deer park in the East Midlands which still retains much of its original form.

Fallow deer were native to Britain before the last ice age and were re-introduced by the Romans and later by the Normans. They would have been brought to Bradgate soon after the Park was “enclosed” and well before the time of Lady Jane Grey.

Bradgate Park’s Red and Fallow deer are some of the finest herds of parkland deer in the country.  The average number of deer kept at Bradgate is around 400.

Bradgate park is somewhere that I have visited all of my life, however it is also somewhere I still enjoy to visit I would recommend a trip here to anyone who has never been.

Holly x

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