When visiting Bradgate Park and Swithland Wood, it is important that certain rules are followed to ensure they remain safe and clean for everyone to enjoy and protect the heritage in our care. The majority of Bradgate Park is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) under the Wildlife & Countryside 1981, as is the whole of Swithland Wood. Damaging any of the interest features of a SSSI is an offence under the Act. This includes damaging geological and natural features and removal of any items. 

We try to make sure everyone can enjoy these spaces safely. We have a number of bye-laws, policies and guides in place.  We also have rules (backed by a Public Space Protection Order) that relate to visits with dogs. Details here.

We encourage people to explore and enjoy Bradgate Park and Swithland Wood, however there are circumstances where without the correct permissions, you may have to abandon your activity or be prevented from continuing if the activity is already underway.

This page includes information on:

  • Cycling
  • Horse riding
  • Use of drones, powered model aircraft and metal detectors
  • Fires, bbqs
  • Care around the deer
  • Ticks and Adders
  • Safety advice for dog walkers
  • Picnics
  • Swimming/bathing
  • Scattering Ashes
  • Holding events on the Estate.

Litter: Please take rubbish home with you, or use the bins provided. Discarded glass and cigarettes can cause fires, as well as litter being harmful to the Park's wildlife. Please clean up after your dog, bags can be added to general waste bins. Please make sure only recyclables go in the marked recycling bins. It costs the Trust £100 a day to remove waste from the Estate, so please do what you can to help reduce the costs and keep the Estate free of litter.

Lost Property: We do have a number of items handed in to our staff, at Tearooms and at the Visitor Centre. We keep a log of items found, and also items reported lost. Please call the Estate Office  (0116 2362713 ext 22) in office hours to check if items are handed in, or visit the Visitor Centre during opening hours. 


Cycling

Cycling is only permitted on designated routes in Swithland Wood and Bradgate Park. Please respect the nationally important land in our care.

Bradgate Park

There is no legal right of way for cycling anywhere on Bradgate Park. However:

A young family visiting Bradgate Park with Children on bikes

Pedal cycling (not motor cycling) is permitted along the tarmac Estate road/Carriageway within Bradgate Park (Newtown Linford entrance through to Hallgates entrance).

Cyclists must ride slowly and carefully and give way to pedestrians, who have priority.

On occasion, cycling may not be permitted at busy times, such as at weekends and Bank Holidays (other than by small accompanied children).

Cycling is not permitted anywhere else within Bradgate Park. Cycling anywhere else on Bradgate Park represents a breach of the Bye laws and may represent an offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, which may render offenders liable to a fine of up to £20,000. 

The use of roller skates, skateboards and children’s scooters is permitted on the Carriageway. Please show courtesy to other users and remember that pedestrians have priority.

Swithland Wood

Pedal cycling (not motor cycling) is ONLY permitted on the bridleways and permissive  horse tracks within Swithland Wood, which are clearly waymarked. Maps illustrate permissions at car parks and within the Wood.

Cycling in a Family Freindly way in Swithland Wood

Cyclists must ride slowly and give way to pedestrians and horses.

Cycling is not permitted anywhere else within Swithland Wood. Cycling anywhere else in the Wood represents a breach of the Bye laws and may represent an offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, which may render offenders liable to a fine of up to £20,000. 


Horse Riding

Bradgate Park

A network of interconnecting permissive horse riding tracks are waymarked (with a yellow flash) across Bradgate Park and link with the main entrances at Newtown Linford, Hallgates (Cropston) and Hunts Hill. 

Horse riding in the Park

A special gate arrangement exists at the first two entrances so that horses can enter and exit more easily without the deer escaping.  Access at Hunts Hill is via the kissing gate.

Horse riding, solely along the defined tracks, is permitted on any day (from 8am until one hour before dusk) except Bank Holidays (at any time) and after 12.00 noon on Saturday and Sunday afternoons/evenings.

These horse riding routes are not public bridleways and the concessionary horse riding facility may be withdrawn or amended if the routes become very wet, ground conditions are unsuitable, the facility abused or when necessary for management reasons.

There is also a permissive horse riding track (principally on Trust land, but also by courtesy of a neighbouring land owner) immediately outside the Park boundary wall, which links the Hallgates and Hunts Hill entrances to the Park.  The route coincides with that of a public footpath. Cycling is not permitted on this track and horse riders must give way to pedestrians.   

Horses must not be ridden outside the designated tracks and must not be galloped.  Use of the tracks is at the rider’s own risk.  Pedestrians have precedence at all times.

Horse boxes can access Hallgates and Hunts Hill car parks. A parking charge of £6 applies. 

Swithland Wood

Horse Riding in Swithland Wood

Horse riding can also be enjoyed along the network of waymarked bridleways and permissive horse riding tracks through Swithland Wood. Please note that cyclists may also use these routes. Maps at car parks and within the Wood illustrate permissions.

Bridleways and permitted tracks are shown on the Trust's Estate  map. Horses must not be galloped. Pedestrians have precedence.


Drones, Powered Model Aircraft, Rockets and Metal Detectors

We do not allow any use of drones, rockets or flying of powered model aircraft within the Estate. This is is due to the safety risk to other visitors and wildlife. 

Bradgate Park and Swithland Wood are designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). Use of a drone/motorised model aircraft over these areas that disturbs the features for which the site has been designated could be construed as causing damage to the SSSI, which would be a criminal offence that carries a fine of up to £20,000. Use of a drone over a SSSI could require consent from Natural England. Bradgate Park, in particular, is notified as a SSSI for being a deer park and for its populations of breeding birds, both of which features could be damaged/disturbed by the inappropriate use of drones.

Drones/powered model aircraft have the potential to disturb breeding birds, and also flocks of wintering birds. Our experience shows deer have been significantly disturbed by drones and powered model aircraft. As a general rule, permission for drone flying on our land is unlikely to be granted during the bird nesting season (March – August), even when for our own monitoring or research purposes. All pilots should be aware of the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 and the legal protection for birds and wildlife against disturbance, in particular during the breeding season.

We have had many complaints to staff from visitors about the inappropriate use of drones. Bradgate Park welcomes over 500,000 visitors a year. As most drones carry cameras, the impact on the privacy of visitors (who may not wish to be photographed or recorded) is considered too great to sanction. The presence of drones/powered model aircraft can be detrimental to the enjoyment of our sites by other visitors: the whole of Bradgate Park is open to visitors and we cannot guarantee an area, even if remote, is completely empty of people.

Commercial operators, (those receiving 'valuable consideration' e.g. selling images, professional survey work etc), need to have permission from the CAA and the Trust, as our bye-laws restrict commercial activity on the Estate. No activities of this nature may take place without permission of the Trust, including press or media filming.  More often than not permission will be declined. The only exception to this being contractors who satisfy stringent CAA criteria, have specific insurances and have been commissioned or authorised by the Trust for a specific purpose – and in these cases the activity is strictly controlled. We do occasionally obtain drone footage to assist our conservation and engagement work, but this is only done with our permission if we are confident the operator is licensed and insured and that wildlife and people will not be injured or disturbed.

Any requests to operate a drone over the Bradgate Park Trust Estate should be directed to the Estate Office [email protected] 

We do not allow use of metal detectors or any unauthorised excavations on the Estate. This is also an offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. 

The Trust operates a Zero Tolerance policy. In rare cases,  exceptions exceptions will be considered where users are part of a formally constituted organisation that can demonstrate all health and safety and insurance measures are in place and there is mutual benefit. In this case a single licence agreement will be established before site usage. 


BBQs, Fires, Lanterns and Fireworks

Bradgate Park and Swithland Wood have a no barbecue  policy. This includes disposable items, as well as being a fire hazard, abandoned barbecues can be a hazard to other visitors and to wildlife. We will extinguish of found being used. We do not permit any fires and ask all visitors respect this due to the sensitive nature of the landscape and danger to wildlife these cause. Damage can result in prosecution.

Please be careful how you extinguish cigarettes and please do not drop cigarette ends or matches, due to the fire risk these pose. Please use bins provided.

We do not permit the use of Chinese Lanterns or fireworks on the Estate. 


Safety around the Deer

The herds of Red and Fallow Deer are wild animals and can be unpredictable. Bradgate Park is a Medeaval Deer Park and the herds of wild deer roam freely. The deer at Bradgate Park are wild and our protected by our Bye-laws as well as wildlife legislation

A bad example of saftey around Deer

Care around the deer.

Visitors need to treat these wild animals with respect. Please do not approach animals to try and stroke them. 
Do not feed the deer at Bradgate Park. 
All visitors, including visiting photographers and those with mobile phones are asked to help safeguard the future of the deer by following a few basic rules:
• Distance – do not get closer than 30 metres to the deer
• Disturbance - if the deer are lying down it is a good indication they are ruminating, which is part of the deer’s digestion process. Try not to make the deer move as this upsets their digestion.
• Pursuit - if the deer start to move away it is because they feel threatened. Please do not follow them as this causes stress similar to being chased. Whilst we have publicised dog chasing deer, visitors have also started to pursue animals and this is not acceptable. 
• Surrounding- please do not try to photograph from all side this hems the deer in leaving them no room for manoeuvre and resulting in a high level of stress, comparable with being chased by a dog.


Bradgate Park is famous for the deer - please treat them with respect when visiting.  They can be dangerous as they are wild and therefore unpredictable.  
Be aware of your surroundings, especially during the rutting season (September - October) and the birthing (May - July) season.

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Safety advice for dog walkers

Deer can feel threatened by dogs even over long distances and when the dog is not behaving in a provocative manner. This is particularly applicable during the rutting (September - October) and the birthing (May - July) seasons. If you choose, at your own risk, to walk your dog in the Park at these times, please keep your distance from the deer. Even in the Upper Park we advise at these periods you consider keeping your dog on a lead.

If a deer does charge, dog walkers are advised to let go of the lead so the dog can run away from danger. In this circumstance the deer is very unlikely to give chase; they simply want the dog to be a safe distance from their young.

Safety Advice for Dog Walkers

Owners of dogs, who chase wildlife, including deer, could face criminal prosecution and a compensation claim under the restorative justice programme.

Download the Public Space Protection Order for Bradgate Park and Swithland Wood Dog Control 2016 by clicking here


Ticks

Ticks are small creatures, related to spiders and mites, that feed on the blood of animals and sometimes people. They can survive in many places but prefer slightly moist, shady areas such as bracken, bushes and leaf litter, as well as long and short grass. Ticks can't jump or fly, so they have to wait until an animal(or human) brushes past to attach to their skin and feed by biting through the skin and sucking blood. The tick population peaks between late spring and autumn (April to October).

A small proportion of ticks may carry a bacterial infection known as Lyme disease, which in rare cases can be contracted by people. 

Information on the prevention and treatment of tick bites is published by Public Health England.


Adders

Snakes on the Park

Adders are the only venomous snake that is native to the British Isles. They are very rare and not aggressive but may bite if startled or touched. Adders may be found anywhere but usually bask on banks, stone walls and open ground. If you see one, leave it alone -and admire this reptile from a safe distance, as they are not often seen. 

If a person or pet is bitten, immediate medical or veterinary attention should be sought.


Picnics at Bradgate Park and Swithland Wood

Please follow these simple guidelines when picnicking on a visit. To ensure everyone enjoys their visits, we ask that you bear in mind the following points:

  • No cooking on site. Our Tearooms offer a selection of hot and cold food.

  • Using glassware - we ask that you use plastic cups and bottles where possible. Broken glass is a hazard to other visitors and wildlife and very difficult to remove from the natural landscape. 

  • Playing ball games - ball games are permitted, but please consider other visitors.

  • Playing loud music - please be considerate to other visitors.

  • Releasing balloons - we ask you do not bring balloons into Bradgate Park, as when released they get caught up in the trees and are hard to remove. They can also be a hazard to the wildlife in the Park. Mass balloon releases are not permitted in for this reason.

  • Please do not feed the deer.

Remember, before you leave, to collect all of your litter together to take with you. Please do not leave any items unattended at any time, both to protect your items from theft and also to prevent them causing a possible security alert/risk to wildlife. 

Above all, please be considerate, so other people can enjoy the sites too. 

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Swimming and Bathing

We do not permit any swimming or bathing in the River, ponds or the flooded former slate quarries in Swithland Wood. The Swithland Wood quarries are fenced for safety and any unauthorised access is trespass and subject to prosecution. 

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Feeding Wildlife

In no circumstance should visitors feed the deer.

Feeding the Wildlife

Feeding ducks, geese and swans is permitted providing that people:

  • Feed them small amounts.

  • Feed them suitable bird food - we have wildlife friendly food available at our Netwtown Linford Shop and Visitor Centre.

  • Do not feed them bread or cooked food of any sort.

  • Do not feed them in the car parks.

Safety advice for photographers

During the rutting season there is particular interest in the deer. During this time, photographers have been witnessed surrounding deer, which can interfere with the course of nature and be very stressful for the deer, who may react violently.

Use a long lens for Photography

Deer are wild animals and their space must be respected. Always keep a minimum of 30 metres away and use a long lens.

Commercial photographers, and those offering photography workshops and walks, or anyone selling images that infringe our trademarks must apply for permission in advance. Please see the 'Commercial Use of the Estate section of this website (under 'About Us') for more details.


Scattering Ashes

When someone dies you might want to scatter their ashes at Bradgate Park or Swithland Wood. The Trust regulate ash scattering, due to the impact this has on the environment and wildlife.

If you wish to scatter ashes, the person’s next of kin or the executor of their will needs to contact our Estate Office (phone 0116 236 2713 or email [email protected]We do assist wherever possible and ask for a donation towards the work of the Charity. We offer this service Monday-Friday and a Ranger will respectfully join the group to offer advice, assistance and transport (if needed). You will be asked to bring a copy of the Certificate of Cremation.

When you are scattering the ashes you should make sure that they are scattered evenly. Please be mindful of other people – particularly those who might be nearby to you when scattering the ashes, and think about the direction of the wind. We are sorry but you are not allowed to leave mementos  where the ashes are scattered (or anywhere on site including Memorial Wood) with the exception of flowers (fresh or dried) with all non-biodegradable wrapping removed.


Holding Events

We do not require any notification as long as the following applies:

  • Fewer than 50 people are attending.

  • The event is not advertised to the general public.

  • No cooking or barbeques.

  • No charity collections/advertising/distribution of printed material.

  • No playing of music, amplified sound, or any form of regulated entertainment as defined in the Licensing Act 2003.

  • No infrastructure including tents, marquees, inflatables etc.

Please ensure that all litter is cleared.

Any event where the press are notified and likely to be in attendance should receive prior authorisation.

Note that if any of the above do not apply, an application via our Estate Office will be required. Please email [email protected] with all event details or call 0116 236 2713 extension 22 to talk to the Estate Team. 


Disclaimer

Visitors should note that the Bradgate Park Trust does not accept any liability, under any circumstances, for any loss, damage or injury which occurs during the use of the Bradgate Park Estate, its facilities or car parks.