COUNTY AND JUST BEYOND
The economy of Leicestershire, and adjoining parts of neighboring counties, is mainly agricultural, thereby offering many miles of travel along rural lanes through rolling countryside and picturesque villages. The following places, listed from north of Barrow clockwise, are conveniently located for a trip of no more than a few hours, all being around 1 hour or less driving time. Virtually every village has its pub, many offering more than just one, most of which serve appetising food at reasonable cost, with more up-market restaurants also being found. The larger the centre of population, naturally the more wining and dining establishments.
Nottingham has much to offer the tourist with many historic buildings, including its famous castle. It is a large city, steeped in history, and a major shopping, wining/dining, and entertainment venue. It stands on the banks of the River Trent, an active recreational and commercial waterway. Sports offerings are two professional soccer teams, First Class cricket, ice hockey, rugby football, and horse racing - over jumps and flat. The ice rink provides recreational skating also.
Paralleling the downstream course of the Trent, a slight leftward diversion leads to
Southwell, a charming old market town with numerous historic buildings, Southwell Minster being a great attraction. There is also a race course - over jumps and flat - with an all-weather track.
Continuing as before
Newark is reached , another old market town with many interesting buildings and an impressive castle. The river front has been developed in recent years with prestigious town houses. Built at the intersection of A1 and A46, both originally Roman roads, the town is now by-passed. A few miles along A46 is
Lincoln, dating back to Roman times and noted particularly for its magnificent hill-top cathedral. It is a medium-sized city with many historic buildings. Brayford Pool, a body of water in the middle of town connected to two navigation systems, has been developed as a marina with wining and dining along the water's edge. Of interest is the old bridge over the River Witham access incorporating a restaurant.
The Leicestershire Wolds display what is considered the county's best and most typical countryside. It is also known by some as High Leicestershire. Rolling countryside consisting of large fields interspersed with isolated farms and pretty villages nestling in leafy vales . It is prime fox-hunting country in which can be found the Quorn, Belvoir, and Cottesmore hound packs. On the eastern edge lies
Belvoir Castle, home of the Duke of Rutland, and the Vale of Belvoir.
Stilton cheese was first manufactured, and still is, in several villages between Belvoir and
Melton Mowbray. Originally a small market town, it still hosts a weekly cattle market but has in recent years regrettably suffered developers' blight. Some interesting historic buildings have survived, however. Melton is famous for its pork pies. Accessible by rail via Leicester.
Oakham is a charming old market town and Rutland county seat. It has many interesting buildings and is home to a noted public school. Accessible by rail via Leicester. Just east of Oakham is
Rutland Water, one of the largest man-made bodies of water in Europe. There are numerous activities to choose from - sailing, fishing, biking, and walking - so a day trip is recommended.
Just to the south is
Uppingham, a town very similar to Oakham, and host to a well-known public school also. It was bypassed some years ago by A47, the main route from Leicester to Peterborough and Norwich, which improved greatly quality of life for the residents as well as visitors.
Stamford is an enchanting and historic town east of Rutland Water, just over the county boundary in Lincolnshire. It has numerous interesting buildings, most built of sandstone. It is noted particularly for its wining and dining establishments, the George and Dragon being one. As Oakham and Uppingam, a reputed public school has been active in the town for many years. Accessible by train via Leicester. Close by is
Burghley House, in the grounds of which are held the annual Burghley Horse Trials.
Peterborough, a city that has grown considerably over recent years, has some historic buildings, most notable being the cathedral. Accessible by train via Leicester.
Although individually a fairly easy drive, advisable to combine Stamford area and Peterborough as a day trip. The very new Rockingham Motor Speedway can be found close to Corby, a town just over the southeastern Leicestershire/Northamptonshire boundary.
The Langtons, a collection of villages of particularly rural character, lie not far from
Market Harborough, another attractive old market town with numerous notable buildings. It lies at the end of an arm of the Grand Union Canal, and in recent years the old canal basin has been transformed into a prestige residential development. A6, the former main road between Leicester and London, has been re-routed around the town, greatly improving its environment. Accessible by rail via Leicester.
Just in Northamptonshire south of Market Harborough is the Battle of Naseby site.
Foxton Locks are found just outside the same-named attractive village. The 10 chamber staircase lifts south-bound craft 75 feet. Restoration of an adjacent abandoned boat lift has been cancelled.
Lutterworth, an old coaching village that in more recent times has become a dormitory for Leicester, has some interesting architecture.
Coventry, a large city not far over the Warwickshire border and largely rebuilt after devastating bombing in the Second World War, offers shopping, wining/dining, and entertainment. Its origin is historic, but few old buildings survive. Worth visiting are the new cathedral and bombed ruins of the old one.
Warwick and Castle, Kenilworth and Castle, Royal Leamington Spa, Stratford-upon-Avon and Royal Shakespear Theatre are all only a few miles apart not far from Coventry. A combined visit is recommended as each town offers much to see, so a day - possibly longer - is advisable for full benefit.
Hinckley is a medium-sized industrial town with little to attract the tourist, except perhaps for some the resurgent Triumph motor cycle plant. In like vein, nearby
Mallory Park motor racing circuit, near the village of Kirkby Mallory, hosts several meetings throughout the year.
Bosworth Field, site of the same named battle, is located close to Market Bosworth, another attractive small town. Passing just west of the battlefield is the
Ashby Canal. Built to carry coal from the Leicestershire Coalfield to Coventry and Birmingham in the 18th century, it is a popular leisure waterway notable for being devoid of locks as its course follows contours.
Twycross Zoo is just outside the same-named village. The zoo is small but well run, some years ago its chimpanzees attaining fame in TV ads for a well-known tea manufacturer.
Ashby-de-la-Zouch, another old market town, has historic significance due much to Ivanhoe's association with it. Now by-passed by the main route between Nottingham and Birmingham, Ashby has many old buildings, and the castle ruins are particularly worthy of note.
Burton-upon-Trent, just over the Staffordshire border, is a medium-sized town famed for many years for its brewing industry, which produces some of UK's best known beers. Certain breweries arrange guided tours, and the sampling encouraged can be most enjoyable.
Derby, one of three cities forming the East Midlands triangle, the other two being Leicester and Nottingham. It is the home of Crown Derby china, Rolls Royce Aero Engines being headquartered there also.
Any combination of the foregoing can, of course, be made into a day trip.