National Character Area 73

Charnwood - Key Characteristics

  • Upland qualities, including extensive open summits and distinctive rocky outcrops, rising from the surrounding lowland undulating farmland.

  • Outcrops of ancient Precambrian rocks, with Mercia Mudstones in the vales; a significant proportion of the NCA is covered with superficial deposits of the Anglian ice age, as well as more recent deposits.

  • Thin, acidic, infertile soils are found on upland slopes; mudstones in the valley bottoms produce a deeper, fertile soil.

  • A well wooded character, with many areas of mixed, deciduous and coniferous woodlands. Large, ancient, pollarded oaks are a feature of country parks.

  • Rectilinear patterns of Parliamentary enclosure fields, bounded by a mixture of drystone walls and hedges. Many of the country parks are also bounded by drystone walls. Enclosure has created a distinctive road pattern.

  • Land use is a distinctive mixture of woodland, predominantly pastoral farmland, heathland and parkland.

  • A diverse variety of habitats (including woodlands, acidic grassland and heathland) support a large range of characteristic and rare species.

  • Clear, fast-flowing watercourses and significant, large, open waterbodies and reservoirs.

  • Historic parks and country parks such as Bradgate and Beacon Hill, large manor houses and the remains of medieval monastic buildings like Ulverscroft Priory are all prominent cultural heritage features that attract many visitors from the surrounding urban areas.

  • Local Charnian rocks, Swithland Slate roofs, thatched roofs and some timber-framed buildings characterise the Charnwood villages. Occasional linear villages and scattered farmsteads through the heart of Charnwood contrast with larger settlements, which ring the elevated areas. A number of large quarries and some busy roads have an urbanising influence in places.