Backpacking in the UK: Visiting The National Forest

The National Forest is one of the UK’s proudest achievements; eight million trees planted by local councils, landowners, schoolchildren, charities and individuals, including one by the Duke of Cambridge. It’s a national treasure – but few realise its potential as an affordable holiday destination, especially for those seeking a budget holiday in the UK. The forest has a number of hotels, while the YHA has an inexpensive family-friendly hostel with private rooms right next to the central Conkers visitor centre. There are all sorts of things to discover in the area, and if you’re lucky, you may even get to plant a tree in the forest!


The National Forest promises days of discovering the UK’s amazing and varied wildlife, without having to spend a single penny. Footpaths and cycle paths wind across the whole area, providing plenty of opportunity to see as much or as little as you like – you could even try travelling through the hills and fields on horseback! There are several beautiful reservoirs with picnic areas and playgrounds, accessible from most of the woodland walks. Fishing is another popular way to discover the nature of the National Forest, and a great opportunity to learn a new activity!

Surrounding Attractions

There are so many attractions in the National Forest area that it can be difficult to know where to start. Take a walk through historic castles and gardens, or head to one of the zoos and nature reserves in the area to learn more about the UK’s native flora and fauna. Surrounding National Trust attractions are a great way to see the area’s heritage and you can spend days on end just exploring the beautiful surroundings.

Food & Drink

There are regular farmers’ markets and a large number of farm shops in the area, ideal for hungry backpackers looking to try some local produce, and much cheaper than stopping in pubs and restaurants for food. You’ll also spot a number of food fairs cropping up throughout the year, so check in advance to see what’s on. If you do want a special meal out, there are plenty of affordable places to eat, many of them serving tasty home-grown food.

5 Things Not to Miss

–          Ashby de la Zouch Castle – A 15th century manor house, featuring extensive remains including the chapel, buttery, tower and even a secret kitchen tunnel.

–          Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre & Country Park – Learn everything you ever wanted to know about Medieval battlefields, with amazing displays and archaeology tours detailing the rise and fall of the Tudor Empire. Visit in August to see the impressive re-enactments!

–          Marston’s Brewery – A must for beer lovers, this traditional Victorian brewhouse includes a tour of the brewery itself and a tasting session with the brewing team.

–          Woodland Ways Bushcraft and Survival – Essential training for even the most seasoned camper, the survival sessions give you the skills to build a shelter and light a fire as well as plant and animal identification, all in the heart of the forest.

–          Bluebell Arboretum and Nursery – A stunning woodland walk with rare plants on display and a fantastic collection of specialist trees and shrubberies – ideal for the botanical enthusiast!

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