For stunning views across the Leicestershire countryside, yet nestled in the suburbs, look no further than Altar Stones nature reserve. Perched atop a rocky hilltop, it is said that during World War II, you could see the bombing of Coventry – 30 miles away!

Location

Altar Stones Lane, Markfield
LE67 9PX

OS Map Reference

SK485107 (Sheet 129)

A static map of Altar Stones

Know before you go

Size
4 hectares

Entry fee

Free

Parking information

Please park in the adjacent lay-by

Grazing animals

Livestock may be present

Access

This hidden gem is tucked away between Markfield and Copt Oak, roughly 13km north-west of Leicester. From the city, follow the A50 towards Coalville. At the Field Head roundabout, take the second exit (Leicester Road) towards Markfield, go through the village and where the road bears sharply right, continue straight on down Altar Stones Lane. The reserve is about 150m further along on the right. This reserve is on a steep slope

Dogs

On a lead

When to visit

Opening times

Always open

Best time to visit

Summer

About the reserve

This reserve is perfect for a casual stroll to enjoy breath-taking views over Leicestershire. Enjoy the gentle buzz of insects and watch butterflies dancing in the heath-grassland, with rocky outcrops and drystone walls providing cover and shelter for a variety of insects, lichens and mosses. Climb to the top of the hill, and you’ll see the remains of the foundations of an old mill; the little building in the north west corner is the old miller’s store. Steeped in geology and history, the large outcrops are between 600 and 700 million years old, composed of Precambian volcanic ash, tuffs and slump breccias.

The breakdown of these rocks creates the perfect conditions for heath-grassland that was once typical in Charnwood Forest, and the grasses, herbs and lichens that thrive here are diverse, varied and, in some cases, very rare in Leicestershire. Please tread carefully in this special place and don’t climb on the rocks.

We are working in this special place to restore the drystone walls, control the scrub and maintain the heath-grassland for a variety of plant species, including mat-grass, bilberry, heath bedstraw and tormentil. You can help us preserve this little slice of wild history by volunteering with us or joining as a member.

Environmental designation

Local Wildlife Site (LWS)
Regionally Important Geological Site (RIGS)

Location map