Changing Seasons at Belton
Whatever time of year you visit, the shifting seasons provide a great variety of colour, wildlife, and things to see and do.
Autumn reds, yellows and golden browns can be found all over Belton, from the adventure playground and parkland to the tranquil views overlooking the boating lakes. While the bedding schemes in the formal gardens will soon be coming out, Belton’s gardeners are already planning what to put in next year.
The fallow deer begin the annual deer rut in October, you can often hear the sound of clashing bucks in the parkland. It’s a spectacular sight, but please be careful not to move too close or in between two tussling bucks.
The house team take the opportunity each year to create a carpet of flowers in the chapel, which is a must see.
So full of colour earlier in the year, the gardens and parkland now take on a more stark beauty. The parkland offers pretty views of the house surrounded by winter colours and bracing walks through the woodland.
In the gardens, frost covered paths up to the frozen boating lake have a relaxing, almost magical quality at this time of year. A shorter walk can take you around the mirror pond presided over by the tranquil figure of a white lady statue and a gnarled and twisted 250 year old beech tree. The ‘eye-catcher’ stone temple provides a sheltered spot and wonderful reflections on a still day.
The sundial (the inspiration for Helen Cresswell’s book, Moondial) takes on the ethereal qualities that made it the perfect focal point of Cresswell’s mysterious tale.
The house closes in early winter, but basement tours continue all year round.
Take a wander through the formal gardens and pleasure grounds. Depending on when you visit and what’s in the planting scheme, the Italian and Dutch gardens’ flowers will be opening up for the new year.
Keep strolling along through the pleasure grounds and enjoy the delightful colours of snowdrops, daffodils or bluebells. The fauna is emerging too, including a variety of birdlife around the boating lakes.
Out in the parkland, carpets of forest flowers will begin to emerge. As we get closer to April be sure to look out for various bird species showing off their colours in preparation for the mating season. As well as birds of prey and kingfishers, there are three species of woodpecker that frequent Belton (green, great spotted and lesser spotted).
In the formal gardens the lilac, philadelphus and lavender are in flower, and the gorgeous blue agapanthus makes an impressive display in front of the Orangery. Inside, pick up a booklet and see how many of the exotic plants you can find.
A gentle stroll along statue walk, via meandering woodland paths, leads past the mirror pond to the lakeshore and boathouse, a delightful feature in this tranquil setting. The fishing lodge was designed by Anthony Salvin in a Swiss chalet style in the 1820s, and we restored it in 2007.
The first fawns of the season appear in the parkland from June. See if you can get a photo of Belton’s newest little deer, but please don’t get too close or try to touch them. The long, lazy afternoons make the parkland a great spot for a picnic, why not enjoy one with a grand view of the house basking in the sun?
The house is open Wednesday – Sunday, with so much to explore both above and below stairs. Saturday afternoons often see a game of cricket on the Oval.