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Charnwood Forest Landscape Partnership

Charnwood Forest is one of the most beautiful parts of The National Forest. Created by volcanic action some 600 million years or so ago, its uplands loom over Leicester and Loughborough and the wider East Midands area. It is the first hard rock area travelling north from London and the South East.

The Charnwood Forest Landscape Partnership (CFLP) has been successful with a new Landscape Partnership bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for funds to protect and enhance the Charnwood Forest Regional Park. They have been approved for a £2.75m grant towards a £3.7m project. They will now receive £250k for initial support to put flesh on the bones of the constituent projects and will be appointing a development officer to lead on this under the direction of the landscape partnership board. This is the result of two years’ hard work. During the development phase, the task will be gathering key information and pulling together the detail of the projects that will form the basis of the Landscape Partnership
In 18 months time unless things go very badly wrong the balance of the funds ( which have been specifically earmarked ) will be made available to be used over a five year period.

Charnwood Forest’s unique landscape erupted out of a volcano in the oceans near the South Pole 600 million years ago. It has developed rich layers of heritage: its landscape is defined by granite-topped hills, wooded valleys, heathland and grassland; its shaded lanes reveal Arts and Craft cottages, ancient monasteries and dry-stone walls.

Despite being on the doorsteps of Leicester, Loughborough, Coalville, Shepshed, Whitwick and many villages its value, beauty and importance is not as well-known as it should be. This puts it at risk: if people are not passionate about Charnwood, they will not understand its importance and, ultimately, the things that make it so special risk being forgotten and lost.
The Landscape Partnership Board which is driving this project forward will be re-shaped to be a task orientated body. Our Access Officer has been heavily involved in the project and had three meeting with Lottery Board personnel. The project aims to raise the profile of Charnwood Forest as a surprising outpost of upland England in lowland Leicestershire. It will help people to explore Charnwood by investing in the ‘honey-pot’ sites of Beacon Hill, Bradgate Park and the Outwoods and improving the network of footpaths, bridleways and cycle routes that link them. It will also help people to engage with Charnwood’s rich history through arts, activities and events and offer them opportunities to learn new skills such as dry-stone walling and wildlife recording. It will then harness people’s interest in Charnwood to get them involved in its future through helping tell its stories, managing its habitats and protecting its heritage.

The new board should be a bit leaner but Roy expects to still be a member of it and hopes to keep a focus on access issues and connectivity within the Forest. Down the road this may assist in having orienteering events using a number of smaller areas as they become ‘joined up’ and it is hoped some additional areas will be opened up to public use

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