Walks in the Heart of the National Forest
Centred on the former mining village of Moira, the Heart of the Forest is a showcase for The National Forest. Where once stood colliery stocking yards, there is now Conkers, which provides a great day out for all of the family.
Surrounding Moira, the Heart of the Forest encompasses 1,000 acres of new and mature wooded landscape. It is constantly growing, with new woodlands and facilities such as the YHA hostel and Hicks Lodge Cycle Centre. It is a fantastic place to start your exploration of the National Forest.
There is a huge network of traffic free trails to explore in the Heart of the Forest. The majority are suitable for exploring on foot, bike or horse.
To help you find your way around, seven bespoke interpretation hubs are installed at points along the Heart of Forest Trail network. In addition to the hubs, look out for the fingerposts and signage to help navigate the trails.
The trail is split into two circuits – the Northern Circuit which is 7.25km/4.5 miles and takes in Furnace Plantation, Moira Junction South, Albert Village Lake and Bath Yard Basin and then the Southern Circuit – 8km/5.5 miles long, covering Hicks Lodge, Thortit Pit and Donisthorpe Colliery. Or you can make a day of it and experience them all in one go.
The interpretation hubs have been contributed to by many residents and volunteers within the Heart of the Forest, and help tell the remarkable stories of this transformed area. The hubs have been inspired by stories of communities who lived and worked in the villages in and around the Ashby Woulds, between Swadlincote, Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Measham and Overseal.
Download the leaflet and get exploring the wonderful industrial and natural heritage that we have across the Heart.
Points of Interest
Themed around woodland life, Conkers Discovery Centre is brilliant for families. There are more than 100 indoor and outdoor activities at this lively interactive discovery centre.
The Ashby Woulds Heritage Trail runs along the former line of the Ashby & Nuneaton Joint Railway, which transported coal from local pits to London and Oxford until 1931.
Donisthorpe Woodland Park was created by Leicestershire County Council on the former Donisthorpe Colliery, which closed in 1990.
The Ashby Canal carried coal from the pits before the railway was built. However, mining subsidence caused the canal to close in the 1940s. Due to the efforts of the Ashby Canal Trust, the canal has now been restored as far as Conkers Waterside.
Moira Furnace was built to process iron ore extracted from the coal deposits nearby. It closed within 5 years due to the variable quality and quantity of the iron produced. It was then used as homes for a number of mine workers who lived adjacent to the canal. The Furnace and nearby lime kilns have now been refurbished and extensive information on the history of the site is provided.
This is the first and only lock to be built on the Ashby Canal. Opened in 2001, it features two sets of top gates to save water. Short or single boats only need use the inner gates and so less water is required to fill the chamber.
Sarah’s Wood has a 1km tarmac footpath to improve accessibility around the site.
The church of St John the Evangelist, Donisthorpe dates back to the early 1800s and is built of grey sandstone.
S5 Saltersford Valley Picnic Area covers 6ha and includes woodland, meadows, marshland and a lake that was formed by mining subsidence. Designated as a Local Nature Reserve, the site is planted with native trees and shrubs and the open grass areas are managed as traditional hay meadows.