Must-see Loughborough spots

Must-see Loughborough spots

Loughborough locals, young athletes and siblings, Daniel (16) and Rebecca Van Aardt (15) have listed their must-see spots to visit in Loughborough and Leicestershire ahead of the UK’s biggest multi-sport event for 13 and 18 year olds, the School Games National Finals.

The four day-event delivered by local children’s charity the Youth Sport Trust and held at Loughborough University will host over 1,000 young aspiring athletes from the 1st to the 4th of September and the Loughborough locals wanted to share their love of the area with visiting competitors and their families, in the art of good sportsmanship for the best spots for training and relaxation.

The Outwoods

One of the oldest surviving woodland sites in Charnwood and south of Loughborough, the 110 acres space consists of beautiful greenery, scenic walks and a 24-hour car park for visitors, alongside a children’s natural play area and café.

Daniel Van Aardt (16), triathlete at School Games National Finals, said: “We train twice a week here as it tends to be ideal for running with the different trails in the forest. If you want to relax, it is a nice place to unwind as it is big enough to be not too crowded, a great spot to see dogs and you might even see Alex Yee and Sophie Coldwell training!”

Barrow upon Soar

Based in northern Leicestershire, in the Soar Valley between Leicester and Loughborough, Barrow lies on the east bank of the River Soar. The village was previously renowned for a dinosaur skeleton being excavated in 1851 and can be visited on foot from Loughborough through a canal walkway.

Rebecca Van Aardt (15) commented: “I often go out to Barrow with my dad and our dog, Alfie, as it is very peaceful to make the hike up and a great way to run without being bored. There is a lot to see in terms of culture, but I love to see the boats passing through the canal, and to see the local football club’s shirt which has a skeleton badge.”

Loughborough’s Queen’s Park

In the heart of the town centre, this local park has received the benchmark international standard for parks and green spaces, the Green Flag, every year since 2008.

First opened in June 1989 to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee it offers everything from walks to places to catch up with friends, and facilities, including, Charnwood Museum, Carillon Tower, Swan Maze, Bowling Green, climbing areas and an under 12s play area.

Daniel mentioned: “This is such a big area and if you are coming down for the first time, it is a must because there is so much to do. I enjoy going shopping and then coming down here with friends, alongside seeing the best view of the area at the top of Carillon Tower.”

Break Escape Rooms

Awarded the Travellers’ Choice 2022 award by Trip Advisor and voted as the Number One Fun and Games activity by the same body, these puzzles are designed to challenge the mind and bring families and friends closer.

Rebecca highlighted: “They are a lot of fun and there is quite a lot of variety depending on what you are looking for. If you need a head scratcher and have a good few hours, it can cause laughs, satisfaction and the biggest grin when you finally escape.”

The Van Aardts are looking to make their mark at the School Games National Finals and both are excited to compete for medals in triathlon, following successes in August at the British Triathlon Super Series Grand Final with silver for Rebecca and a 9th place position for Daniel. They come from a family of natural athletes with mother, Helen, a former World Student Games bronze medallist and dad, Johan, an international cyclist for South Africa. Both will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of previous competitors, Adam Peaty, Katarina Johnson-Thompson and Hannah Cockroft, to create their own path for success.  

This year the School Games National Finals 2022 is taking place thanks to National Lottery funding from Sport England as part of the organisation’s Birmingham 2022 legacy investment and is delivered by the Youth Sport Trust which has its headquarters on the University campus. The event provides the young athletes with first class facilities and the experience of being in a sport competition village akin to the Commonwealth Games.

To see the Van Aardt’s compete at the School Games National Finals between the 1st and 4th of September, please register for your ticket to one or more events here