Plants, Animals and Rocks

The Bradgate Park & Swithland Wood Estate contains two Sites of Special Scientific Interest, notable for both biological and geological features.


Ancient-Trees-and-BrachenBRADGATE PARK – One of the best sites in Leicestershire for many types of plants and animals.

Bradgate is renowned for its fine herds of deer but the Park is also a hugely important site for a wide range of plants and animals. There are too many to list here but some of the key highlights are:

  • The only certain Adder population remaining in Leicestershire is found in the Park;
  • Some lichens that occur on the Park walls are estimated to be 300 years old;
  • The Park contains the largest population of ancient trees in Leicestershire;
  • Swithland Wood is the most important ancient semi-natural woodland in Leicestershire and one of the most diverse in Britain;
  • Swithland Wood meadow is one of the best remaining of its type in the East Midlands;
  • The River Lin contains populations of the threatened native White-clawed Crayfish, Brook Lamprey (a primitive fish) and native Brown Trout (rare in Leicestershire);
  • More than 100 species of spider, including two that are nationally notable, have been recorded in the Park, making it one of the best sites in Leicestershire;
  • At least five species of bat occur in the Park, which contains the only known Noctule bat roost in Leicestershire, in an old tree;
  • Many nationally scarce beetles occur in the Park, including a Red Data Book List 1 ‘endangered’ wood decay species;
  • Bradgate Park is the only currently known recent site for Snow Flea Boreus hyemalis, the only previous record is from Swithland Wood;
  • Bradgate Park is one of only two sites in Leicestershire for the Green Tiger Beetle;
  • Shepherd’s Cress Teesdalia nudicaulis, which occurs on spoil heaps in Swithland Wood, is classified as ‘near threatened’ at a national level;
  • A colony of the nationally notable plant Henbane occurs around the ruins and estate office, together with Deadly Nightshade and other plants that were probably introduced centuries ago for their herbal and medicinal properties;
  • Other notable species include that occur on the estate include the Palmate Newt, Slow-worm, a number of declining birds such as Meadow Pipit, Tree Pipit, Yellowhammer and Reed bunting, and a range of locally notable flowering plants, ferns, lichens, fungi, mosses and liverworts


Wildlife Recording

We are grateful to the local naturalists who carry out wildlife recording at Bradgate, in particular the members of Loughborough Naturalists’ Club, Leicestershire & Rutland Ornithological Society, Leicestershire Fungi Study Group and the Leicestershire Bat Group.

The data they gather is vital in helping us to monitor the health of our habitats and the effectiveness of our management.

You can download some of their records below:

Bradgate Park Fungi

Swithland Wood Fungi


Combined Records

560 million years of Earth History

The geology of Charnwood Forest has had a great influence on the flora and fauna of Bradgate. The rock outcrops in the Park are exposures of the late Precambrian period. They were deposited as volcanic ash and other debris on the flanks of islands similar to those of the modern day Caribbean. Other molten igneous rocks subsequently intruded into the rock sequence at a later date. All these rocks rank as some of the oldest in the country. Some are over 560 million years old and are of international renown. More recent Mercia Mudstones (Keuper Marl) form the geology of the lower lying areas to the east of the Park.

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