Leicestershire is divided between the large country estates of its eastern side and the industrial towns of the East Midlands to its west. Coal mining was an important part of the county’s industrial development in the 19th and 20th centuries. This is reflected in its heritage, including a reclaimed mine near Coalville, now divided between a nature reserve and Snibston Discovery Park, where families can learn about the mining industry. Meanwhile, agricultural areas are concentrated around the pleasant market towns of Market Harborough and Market Bosworth.
The county’s administrative centre is the city of Leicester, and other major towns are Loughborough, which includes bell-founding among its many industries, and Melton Mowbray, home of Stilton cheese and a particularly English item, the pork pie. One shop in Leicester has been specialising in this meaty delicacy since 1851. Northeast of Melton Mowbray is the lovely Vale of Belvoir, beneath which are large deposits of coal.
Charnwood Forest, with fewer trees than one would expect, provides a wild and rugged landscape conveniently situated for escape from the city. It lies to the northwest of Leicester extending to Loughborough and Coalville, with some interruptions.