Belton Park walk
Belton Park is rich in wildlife and covers around 1300 acres, of which 750 acres is designated deer park. Dogs on leads welcome.
Explore the park and woodland with historical highlights
The route passes key features of ancient woodland, highlights built structures and wildlife habitats and points out the site of a deserted medieval village.
Belton House main car park, grid ref: SK928391
Make your way from the visitor reception building towards the front steps of Belton House. As you look at the mansion, follow the small gravel path on your right into the park, keeping the estate railing on your left. When sheep are grazing this area of the park, you will also have to go through a small pedestrian gate to pass through the temporary electric fencing. Follow the tree line all the way to the gate in the wooden fence.
Belton House is the former home of the Brownlow family and is often cited as being the perfect example of an English country-house estate. The 17th century Carolean treasure house contains fine collections of porcelain, silver, paintings and books. Why not pop in when you have finished your walk? The mansion is open Friday - Monday, 12.30 - 5pm.
Go through the gate and on the left you’ll see a ha-ha. Walk towards the first row of lime trees that make up the East Avenue. Ahead, catch a glimpse of Bellmount Tower, a mid-18th-century Grade II listed landscape feature. Walk up the avenue, away from the house, towards the brow of the hill.
Seen from across the parkland during the walk, the tower was completed in 1751 for Viscount Tyrconnel. The viewing tower was designed as a focal point. Guests would gaze out along the avenue of lime and horse chestnut trees towards this ‘eye catcher’ on the hill. Reach Bellmount Tower from the car park on Five Gates Road, it is not accessible from this walk.
Before the wooden gate, bear right along the fence line and up the hill to pick up the path that runs along the back of Old Wood. The wood is identified as ‘Old Wood’ on estate maps dating back to 1690. The wood is a sanctuary for Belton’s wild fallow deer, and they can often be seen resting here. Once you reach the other side of the wood, you’ll come to the fence line that denotes the edge of the golf course. At this point bear right, heading downhill and passing the 19th century Grade II listed Conduit House on your left.
Look out for the direct descendants of the wild deer herd enclosed here in 1690. They have large, flat antlers and can be a variety of colours. The breeding season, known as the rut, runs from the last week in September until the middle of November. There are around 30 master bucks with the potential to breed. The bucks bellow and roar to attract the attention of the female does. Competition can be fierce at times amongst the more dominant males, which are commonly 10-12 years of age.
Following the fence line, head down the hill and through the wooden hand-gate. You will pass the Alford Memorial on your left-hand side. This memorial was commissioned by the first Earl Brownlow in 1851 in memory of his son, Lord Alford, husband of Marian Alford. Turn left at the corner of the golf course and head towards the gate at the head of Towthorpe Ponds. Once through the gate, continue along the path through the wooded area, still keeping the golf course on your left. This will take you to the Lion Gates at the far end of the park.
Built in memory of Viscount Alford. The Latin inscription reads: "Farewell, my dearest son. Among these trees, once fortunate in aspect, I, your weeping father, place this here, offered in your name with a prayer".
With your back to the gates, proceed up the avenue towards the house for 50 metres then follow the waymarked path to your left that will lead you towards the River Witham. Along this stretch you’ll often see or hear green woodpeckers, who like to feed on the yellow meadow ants found in the numerous ant hills.
These gates once marked the main route into the Belton estate and originally stood by the main road to Lincoln.
Keeping the river on your left, you’ll pass the site of the deserted medieval village of Towthorpe. Look out for signs of earthworks and evidence of the ridge and furrow associated with medieval farming methods as you follow the path between meadow and river, past an ancient hedgerow on your left. To get closer to the river, bear left at the waymark and head for the boardwalk. Alternatively stay on the top path and through a small copse until you come to a wooden hand gate at the far end of the Towthorpe Ponds.
Towthorpe is mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086 but is thought to date from much earlier, as pre-historic and Saxon artefacts have been found in the area. Today there's little trace of the village, although earthworks can be seen on the western side of the river.
Pass through the gate, keeping a look out for the kingfishers and dragonflies that can sometimes be spotted darting across the ponds, and continue straight along the path until you approach a fence. Bear right here and make your way towards the old carriageway of the ‘south drive’, passing one of the oldest trees in the park, a sycamore planted when the mansion was built. The drive will take you back towards the Mansion, shop and café.
Towthorpe Ponds were created around 1820 and have been a haven for white-clawed crayfish since special reefs were built in 2009.
You’re now back at the top of the oval where, during the spring and summer months, you can watch the swallows coming back and taking a rest on the mansion.
Belton House main car park, grid ref: SK928391
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