Explore Leicester & Leicestershire – on foot

Whether you’re strolling around an historic town, striding between museums, or rambling in the woods, finding your way on foot is a great way to relax, discover new places and meet new people.

The best way to get around Leicester is on foot – most sights and attractions are within a short stroll, and many of our city centre streets are pedestrianised. If you’re looking for a green escape in the city then you can head to one of Leicester’s many parks and open spaces.

Leicestershire’s beautiful countryside includes lots of country parks, with mile upon mile of walking opportunities and plant and wildlife to discover on your route.

Maps & Guides

Rights of way & promoted routes

explore-homepageThere are over 3000km of public rights of way in Leicester & Leicestershire, including footpaths, bridleways and byways.

Legally, they only differ from the roads which you drive along by the types of traffic entitled to use them.

A permissive path is a path which the landowner permits the public to use, with the intention that it should not become a public right of way.

Read more about rights of way in Leicester or Leicestershire including the definitive maps, local access forums and rights of way improvement plans.

Interactive maps (for guidance only)

For statutory or formal purposes (e.g. planning applications), only the Definitive Map should be used to accurately confirm the location and status of public rights of way.

Promoted routes

Many local, regional and national trails have been devised over the years by local authorities and walking organisations, promoting the public rights of way network. Explore and enjoy Leicestershire and beyond with our guides below:-

Contact details and information about buses and local amenities may be out-of-date. We recommend you use our journey planner for latest public transport options and search online for places to eat and drink before you go. Calls to Traveline 0871 200 2233 cost 12p per minute plus your phone company’s access charge.

  • Leicestershire Round (£ guidebook). This 100 mile circular trail around the county encompasses many delights the Leicestershire countryside has to offer. It is detailed in a guidebook, arranged into sections, which focus on villages as stopping points. (Leicestershire Footpath Association)
  • National Forest Way (Free PDFs). This new 75 mile linear trail explores the highlights of The National Forest between Beacon Hill Country Park in Woodhouse Eaves, Leicestershire, and the National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas, Staffordshire. The route is split into 12 promoted sections. (National Forest Company). (£ unofficial e-book)
  • The Ivanhoe Way (Free PDF). A 35 mile circular trail around the northwest of the county, which links with the Leicestershire Round. The route is split into 7 short sections making it easy to walk as a series of short strolls.
  • Midshires Way (Leicestershire section) (Free PDF). Since opening in 1994, The Midshires Way has become a popular long distance walking and riding route stretching some 225 miles across central England from Buckinghamshire to Greater Manchester. From south to north it crosses 5 counties, taking in the Peak District National Park before reaching the Pennines near Stockport. See also – Explore Leicestershire on horseback
  • Ambion Way (Free PDF). A 9.5 mile walk through woodland, across farmland and along the towpath of the Ashby Canal near Market Bosworth. If you are looking for an opportunity for some quiet enjoyment of the Leicestershire countryside, this walk will suit you.
  • Jubilee Way (Free PDF). Opened in 1977 to mark the Queen’s Silver Jubilee, this 20 mile trail starts at Burrough Hill in the south (linking with the Leicestershire Round) and travels north beyond Belvoir (where it meets the Viking Way).
  • Mowbray Way (Free PDF). This 9 mile linear trail starts at Scalford and heads east across open countryside, via small villages to eventually meet Buckminster. The route links the long distance paths of the Jubilee Way (from Burrough on the Hill to Woolsthorpe by Belvoir) and the Viking Way (from the Humber to Rutland, via Lincolnshire).
  • Brampton Valley Way (Free route description / £ maps). This former Northampton to Market Harborough Railway is now a car free ‘linear’ park surrounded by beautiful scenery and rich in natural and historical heritage.  It provides a 14 mile walking, cycling and in parts horse riding route.  The stone surfaced path follows the old railway track bed and is suitable for both hybrid style and mountain bikes. (Sustrans)
  • Jurassic Way (Free PDFs). Briefly enters Leicestershire at Bringhurst in the far south east and connects Banbury in Oxfordshire with Stamford in Lincolnshire. For most of its 88 mile route it follows the Northamptonshire Uplands, the Jurassic limestone ridge that forms the northern spine of that county. (Northamptonshire County Council)
  • Macmillan coast-to-coast paths (£ guidebooks). Explore Leicestershire as part of a coast-to-coast walk along the Macmillan Way from Boston (Lincolnshire) to Abbotsbury (Dorset) / Barnstaple (Devon). Or try the new Cross Britain Way, which runs from the start of the main route in Boston, to Barmouth on the Welsh coast. (Macmillan Ways Association)
  • The National Byway® (£ maps). The National Byway is a 3,200 miles (5,150km.) sign-posted leisure cycling route, around England and parts of Wales and Scotland. The National Byway journeys through the natural environment, providing discreet sign-posted direction along some of the most attractive and peaceful rural lanes. In addition to the main route, there are 60 one-day circular loop rides. (The National Byway Trust)
  • Viking Way (Free PDFs). A long-distance trail from the River Humber, through Lincolnshire and Rutland, a total of 147 miles. Southwards from near Belvoir Castle, the route is along the border between Lincolnshire and Leicestershire, following the Sewstern Drift, an ancient trackway which forms much of the boundary between the two counties. Also forms part of the European walking route E2 – a 3,030 mile long-distance path running from Galway in Ireland to France’s Mediterranean coast. (Lincolnshire County Council)
  • Melton Round (Free PDF).  The Melton Round is a 103km (64 mile) walk which circles Melton Mowbray,  designed to take advantage of the fine views available in the area. Underfoot conditions should not pose problems even to novice walkers, though suitable footwear is recommended.
  • Market Harborough Round (Free PDF).  The Market Harborough Round is a circular walk of around 134km (83 miles) with Market Harborough at its centre.
  • The Richard The Third Trail (Free PDF). Approximately 68 mile walk, passing through Leicester. From Richard’s birthplace to the site of his death.

Long distance trails

Find out more about long distance paths, including those featured above, on The Long Distance Walkers Association website, which includes a searchable database of over 1,400 UK trails. Information includes maps, publications, and details of nearby accommodation.

  • Browse our extensive library of walking leaflets covering many local towns and parishes:

Local walking guides

Walking guides coverage areasWe have a large selection of free walking guides for you to download (all PDF format); ideal for exploring your local area, or discovering somewhere new:-

“Strolls on your Doorstep”: easy-access short walks in urban areas, suitable for a range of abilities, including some designed for people with pushchairs and wheelchairs (see below).

“Parish Walks” / “Local Walks”: rural circular walks around many of Leicestershire’s villages, ranging in distance from 1 to 9 miles (see below).

Choose from one of the six
map areas below:

Contact details and information about buses and local amenities may be out-of-date. We recommend you use our journey planner for latest public transport options and search online for places to eat and drink before you go.
Calls to Traveline 0871 200 2233 cost 12p per minute plus your phone company’s access charge. Any prize draws featured have now closed.

6) Walks in Coalville Area & The National Forest:

* Printed leaflets

FREE hard copies of walks leaflets marked with an asterisk(*) can be requested by e-mailing choosehowyoumove@leics.gov.uk, stating your name, address and the leaflet(s) you’d like. Other leaflets are no longer available, but may be printed at home or your local library.

See also:

River Soar Trail

River Soar Trail

Route 1 – Market Harborough to Foxton Locks (5.5 miles)

This well surfaced section of the towpath allows access for family cycling and walking with pushchairs.

Getting there:

Union Wharf canal basin is a 15 minute walk from Market Harborough town centre, where there are regular services to Leicester and Northampton. Foxton village is served by the hourly (Monday – Saturday daytime) 44 bus service from Market Harborough

Limited short term free parking available next to Union Wharf. Foxton Locks has long stay parking at Gumley Road, or short stay at the bottom of the locks (LE16 7RA)*

Download map and directions:

Route 1 (PDF file)

Download the route as a GPX file (right click to download):

Route 1 (GPX file)

Route 2 – Aylestone Meadows to Glen Parva and back via the Great Central Way (4 miles)

Visit Pebble Beach and stop off at the Kings Lock Tearooms for refreshments. The towpath is muddy in places and not suitable for family cycling.  The Great Central Way is fully paved and suitable for all users.

Getting there:

Grace Road bus stop on Aylestone Road is served by regular services to and from the city. Parking at start of route at Aylestone Mill Lock.

Download map and directions:

Route 2 (PDF file)

Download route as a GPX file (right click to download):

Route 2 (GPX file)

Route 3 – Abbey Park to Wolsey Island and Ellis Meadows (3 miles)

Follow the canal to where it re-joins the river at Swan’s Nest Weir, visit the newly created Ellis Meadows, with boardwalks over wetland areas and a picnic area, and then follow the river back to Abbey Park. Suitable for family cycling or walking.

Getting there:

Regular bus services from St Margaret’s Bus Station (7 minute walk from start of walk) Car park at St Margaret’s Pastures*.

Download map and directions:

Route 3 (PDF file)

Download the route as a GPX file (right click to download):

Route 3 (GPX file)

Route 4 – Watermead North & South (4.2 miles)

Starting at either Watermead North or South car parks, take a loop around both parks, linked by the river. Suitable for family cycling or walking.

Getting there:

Watermead South – regular services along Melton Road. Watermead North – service 6 from Leicester.Car parks at Watermead South (Alderton Close) and Watermead North (Wanlip Road)*

Download map and directions:

Route 4 (PDF file)

Download the GPX file (right click to download):

Route 4 (GPX file)

Route 5 – Watermead North to Cossington Lock (4.4 miles)

This out and back route can be combined with Route 4 for a longer day out. Suitable for family cycling or walking.

Getting there:

Watermead North – bus service 6 from Leicester. Car park at Watermead North (Wanlip Road)*

Download map and directions:

Route 5 (PDF file)

Download the route as a GPX file (right click to download):

Route 5 (GPX file)

Route 6 – Mountsorrel to Barrow Upon Soar (4.4 miles)

Follow the river as it meanders through the Soar Valley.   Refreshments available at riverside pubs. Not suitable surfaces for family cycling.

Getting there:

Barrow Upon Soar -Regular Kinchbus 2 service to Sileby, Birstall, Leicester, Quorn and Loughborough.  Also regular rail services to Leicester and Nottingham.  Mountsorrel – Regular services from the village centre to Leicester and Loughborough.

Download map and directions:

Route 6 (PDF file)

Download the route as a GPX file (right click to download):

Route 6 (GPX file)

Route 7 – Loughborough to Redhill Marina (9 miles)

Follow the full route and return by train from East Midlands Parkway, or stop at Normanton on Soar and visit the 12th C St James Church.  Not suitable for family cycling.

Getting there:

Loughborough – regular services to Leicester, Syston, Birstall, Shepshed, and further afield to Derby and Nottingham. The river runs close to the train station as it heads towards the River Trent north of Kegworth. Regular train services run to Leicester, Loughborough and Nottingham.

In Loughborough, Beehive Lane* and Granby Street* car parks are both within a 10 minute walk of the river:http://www.charnwood.gov.uk/pages/carparklocations

Download map and directions:

Route 7(PDF file)

Download route as a GPX file (right click to download):

Route 7 (GPX file)

  • Choose from a selection of easy, short walks, ideal for families:

Family fun outdoors

There might be some heel dragging if a family walk is suggested as a fun weekend activity – from children and adults alike – but we’ve got some ideas to help you get the whole family walking without you ever having to say the dreaded ‘w’ word!

  • Barrow upon Soar (PDF): approximately 1 hr (2.75 miles)
    • Fun factors: river, cattle and horses, playground, boat hire (£)
    • Facilities include: parking, toilets, two cafés, several nearby pubs
  • Beacon Hill (PDF): approximately 2 hrs (6.3 miles)
    • Fun factors: rhododendron labyrinth, amazing views, woodland, open countryside, streams, new playground, rocks to scramble, cattle, sheep and alpacas
    • Facilities include: parking, toilets, nearby pubs
  • Bosworth Battlefield (PDF): approximately 1 hr 30 mins (2.5 miles)
    • Fun factors: woodland, canal towpath, old railway line, Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre (£), boat rides (£), steam train rides (£)
    • Facilities include: parking, toilets, two cafés, visitor centre shop
  • Staunton Harold (PDF): approximately 1 hr 30 mins (2.75 miles)
    • Fun factors: shops, large lakes, woodland, views from the ridgeway, nature reserve, sheep and cattle
    • Facilities include: parking, toilets, two cafés, shops
  • Wistow (PDF): approximately 2 hrs (4.5 miles)
    • Fun factors: browse the shops, open countryside, canal path, sheep and cattle
    • Facilities include: parking, toilets, café and shops

  • Discover more of Leicester & Leicestershire’s wildlife, geology, heritage and history:

Themed walks

  • Story of Leicester – a growing collection of online maps, audio tours, video and interactive guide exploring Leicester’s rich culture and heritage. Download the accompanying mobile app and enjoy a self-guided walk with commentary!
  • King Richard III Walking Trail (PDF) – lasts approximately 1 hour and takes you around key sites in the city centre that are connected to the last Plantagenet King and the medieval Leicester he would have known. The trail begins at the site of the Blue Boar Inn on Highcross Street.
  • Geological Walks (PDF) – six trails (mostly circular) through the beautiful Charnwood Forest. The guide gives interesting information about the geological features found along the way.
  • Mining Heritage Trail (PDF) – this 9 mile mostly-circular route starts at the Snibston Country Park in Coalville and links the villages of Coleorton and Swannington
  • Walking Through Time (PDF) – three walks ranging from 2 to 6.5 miles around the beautiful area of wooded hills and outstanding historical and scenic features of the Staunton Harold Estate and Breedon-on-the-Hill, on the border of North West Leicestershire and South Derbyshire.
  • Walking to Nature (PDF) – this walk makes use of the trails and routes around the Outwoods, a popular leisure area near Loughborough.
  • Airport Trail (PDF) – a 6-mile walk taking in the whole perimeter of East Midlands Airport. It includes sections of permissive path that reconnect the footpaths, bridleways and lanes severed when the airfield was created in the Second World War.

Please note: contact details and information about bus services, pubs and other amenities featured in these documents may be out-of-date. We recommend that you use our journey planner for latest public transport options and search online for places to eat and drink before you go. Any prize draws featured have now closed.
  • Other places to explore including country parks, waterways and nature reserves:

Parks & countryside access

  • Country Parks in Leicester & Leicestershire. Get outdoors, re-connect with nature, and explore the beauty of the city and county’s many parks and open spaces. A comprehensive directory of sites managed by the city and county councils and other organisations.
  • Leicester Riverside. Leicester Riverside is an 8 mile ribbon of linked green spaces, wildlife areas, historic features, industrial heritage following the River Soar and Grand Union Canal.
  • River Soar Trail Route 1 (PDF) – This route is 5.5 miles. Fully accessible for family walking or cycling. The start is 15 mins from the Square in Market Harborough.  The route could be done as an out and back. For walkers completing the linear route the 44 service runs between Foxton and Harborough (Mon-Sat only). The X3 and X7  bus services run from Leicester to Market Harborough.
  • Accessible Countryside for Everyone – Leicestershire.  Disabled access, wheelchair walks, easy access, access for all, mobility, walks on wheels, miles without stiles – whatever the term, this website is all about accessibility to the countryside and green spaces.
  • Nature reserves. As well as containing wonderfully rich and varied animal and plant species, many extremely rare, Leicestershire’s nature reserves are also important places for people to visit, enjoy, and appreciate outstanding wildlife.
  • Permissive paths. Search for walks, rides and areas of open access in Leicestershire and Rutland provided under the Countryside Stewardship, Environmentally Sensitive Areas and Environmental Stewardship schemes.
  • Open access land. Search for open access land, where people can walk freely on upland areas, heaths, and registered common land as a result of what is commonly known as the ‘right to roam’.
  • Orienteering. The Leicestershire Orienteering Club arranges events and has organised a series of permanent orienteering courses around the county.
  • Leicestershire Climbs. Based on the 1993 ‘Leicestershire Climbs’ guide by Geoff Mason and Ken Vickers.

  • Walking is a great way to socialise as well as get fit. Find your local walking group:

Groups & guided walks

There’s a whole host of friendly groups and guided walks to join across Leicester and Leicestershire, suitable for all abilities and age groups (unless otherwise specified). Most groups offer a choice of walks on different days, of different lengths.

Walking groups 

Short Group Walks in Leicester

There are short group walks available of up to 90 minutes and suitable for most abilities. Leicester City Council provide walks in the city, as listed on our What’s On page.

Walking for Health (a national programme) also provide group walks in the city and county. Find out more here.

The Ramblers

By joining The Ramblers, you can walk with any group across the UK, including the eight Leicstershire & Rutland Area groups. There’s no obligation to join immediately – you’re welcome to try out two or three walks for free:

Groups affiliated to The Ramblers

Other groups

Guided walks providers

Search for up-coming guided walks and tours on Visit Leicester and Go Leicestershire, the official tourism websites for Leicester and Leicestershire.

  • Ashby Canal Trust promotes restoring the canal from Snarestone to Moira, through an annual festival and guided walks.
  • Colin Crosby Heritage Tours are led by Colin Crosby, a qualified expert tourist guide, who offers a very wide ranging programme of guided walks in many locations around Leicester & Leicestershire and further afield.
  • Leicestershire Country Parks organise a range of family-friendly events, nature activities and guided walks. See their Facebook page for up-coming events.