Posted on Wednesday 2nd March
The National Forest combines tranquil retreats with fascinating stately homes, glorious gardens, historic castles and exciting discovery centres.
Centrally located in the Midlands and easily accessible from the M1, M42/A42, A50 and A38, and with loads to do in and around the area, it is a fantastic place for day trips and weekend breaks. Search for places to visit or look at our suggested itineraries for more ideas.
Putting together an itinerary
If you would like any help putting together a tailor-made itinerary for your group or advice on venues suitable for buggies or wheelchairs, contact the Tourist Information Centres.
Roots to the past…..
Explore the tunnel, tower and impressive ruins of Ashby de la Zouch Castle – the true seat of the ‘real’ King of England. The free audio tour brings the fascinating history of the castle to life – captivating visitors young and old alike.
Enjoy homemade cakes in the friendly tea shop at beautifully restored Sharpe’s Pottery Museum in Swadlincote.
Tutbury Castle was the former prison for Mary Queen of Scots and is allegedly one of the most haunted castle in the country.
Messing about on the Water……
Enjoy a guided tour around Shardlow Heritage Centre in the historic Inland Port. Located at the eastern end of the Trent & Mersey Canal, Shardlow is one of only two surviving inland canal ports in the country.
Mercia Marina is an essential canal-side stop-off point to near to the village of Willington. You can stroll along the Boardwalk, browse around the lovely shops and enjoy lunch at the waterside pub and restaurant.
After lunch, walk to nearby Branston Water Park – a wonderful place to watch wildlife due to its wide variety of meadows, woodland and wetland habitats.
Rosliston Forestry Centre offers 154 acres of new woodland with plenty to see and do. Group activities include wildlife walks on all abilities trails, cycle hire, archery, laser clay, tai chi and bird of prey displays.
The Fisherman’s breakfast at the Honey Pot Tea Rooms in Beehive Farm is now legendary!
Groups can gain excellent tuition on the dry ski slope at Swadlincote Ski & Snowboard Centre which offers the added adrenaline rush of a 650m Alpine toboggan run.
Market Towns and Picture Postcard Villages……
Ashby de la Zouch is an essential stopover for groups. As well as its impressive castle and interesting museum, this pretty market town has a wide range of excellent gift shops and boutiques tucked away in its courtyards and mews. The friendly tea shops and cafes offer a welcome rest for elevenses.
Take lunch in one of the many bistros and cafes in the picturesque village of Melbourne. This boasts antique shops and art galleries, a picturesque pool and grand hall and an impressive parish church, described as a cathedral in miniature.
Imposing above the enchanting village of Tutbury, is the castle where Mary Queen of Scots was held captive for many years. The Priory Church of St Mary the Virgin, reflects the importance of Tutbury in Norman times. The Mews and High Street have many art and crafts shops, galleries and antique shops to browse for souvenirs and gifts.