Spring is here and the weather is going from freezing cold to warm and sunny. Perfect for a stroll around a local favourite – Bradgate Park. It’s easy to get lost in the idea of visiting far away attractions in foreign lands but right here on my doorstep sits a park visited by virtually everyone in the county of Leicestershire.
If truth be told, I haven’t visited Bradgate in quite a while. As I alluded to in paragraph one, it’s easy to get led away by the delights of the continent or even big cities like London. In all of those cities the chances are we’ll end up strolling around a beautiful park when the area’s closest to us often get overlooked.
Bradgate Park is accessible from either end of Newtown Linford, if you want the main sights closest to you. At the Sharpley Hill end you’ll enter the “Old John” tower ruins dating back to 1784. At the village end, which we opted for, you enter the deer sanctuary and get to walk alongside the beautiful streams and waterfalls.
We got lucky and caught Bradgate on a mild, sunny day. Walking through the park suits both hillwalkers and those who prefer it a little more flat – whichever way you go, you end up with incredible views.
On a usual visit to Bradgate we had never encountered more than a dozen deer but this time around there were loads! All busily munching away on the grass but be warned – dog’s have to be kept on leads in the park but especially around deers. Anyone who’s caught that viral ‘Fenton’ video on YouTube will know why.
Keen wildlife photographers will need to bring a lense that covers at least 30 feet as the park advise you not to go any closer to the deer than that. A slight problem for us in a photographic sense but there’s plenty of other animals to see such as ducks, squirrels and rabbits.
Following the path from the village entrance leads you to the visitor centre, shop and tea rooms. I can never resist a sign that touts venison at me, so in we went. The people in the visitor centre are really friendly and insisted we just rummage through the various cuts of local meat in the fridge.
The price list on the side proved a handy guide for what we were after. I found a top quality piece of venison loin steak (frozen) at the amazing price of £5.41 ($7.35 US). The good news also is that payment is accepted with either cash or card (over £5), including contactless.
I must admit that I did feel bad taking the bagged venison loin through the deer sanctuary back to the car park but the views did make up for it.
One slight irk about Bradgate Park is the car parking charges – £3 ($4.07 US) to park your car! Also this is by coins only and no way of paying over the phone by card. Parking is also severely restricted within the village of Newtown Linford so it’s not really worth trying.
Just before you leave the park, how about some free food? Right beside the stream, just towards the car park exit, you will find an abundance of Ramsons aka: Wild Garlic. I’ve been after this stuff for ages and it’s been growing about 10 minutes from my house this whole time! A word of warning though, go by the smell.
A poisonous imposter by the name of Lily-of-the-valley sometimes resembles Wild Garlic but if the aroma, flowers and leaves all indicate that it is Wild Garlic then you’re onto a winner. I went and grabbed myself a few massive handfuls for future recipes. This stuff is supposedly ideal to freeze.
With my venison and free, foraged food all in the car we made for the exit. Bradgate is a great day out in Leicestershire, even if you’re just passing through looking for a leg stretch or something to do for a couple of hours. Many people bring their children here to climb the rocks or see the wildlife. It’s a really good afternoon out – you might even bring back something tasty.