Belhus Woods Country Park has a diverse landscape of woodlands, grasslands and lakes. The park was once part of the Belhus Estate owned by the Barrett-Lennard family. Remnants of the 18th Century Park, laid out by Richard Woods and the landscape architect, Capability Brown, can still be seen; "The Shrubbery" and "Long Pond" were created in 1770 although are now cut in half by the M25. The Icehouse, an 18th Century brick-lined well, offered an early form of refrigerated storage. A stench pipe disguised as a Tudor chimney also survives in the south of the Park.
The Park has a Visitor centre and shop where light refreshments, gifts and information can be purchased. There are picnic and barbecue areas and day tickets for fishing which are available on the bank. There are toilets and baby changing facilities.
Associated clubs that meet regularly at Belhus Wood country park include The West Essex Bowmen Archery Club, The Docklands and East London Model Engineering Society (model steam trains) and the Grays Thurrock Model Boat Club.
The Park is run by Essex Country Council Ranger Service in agreement with Thurrock Council who own 45% of the park.
A large oil painting of their Belhus Mansion at Aveley, probably commissioned by the Barrett-Lennard family in the 18th Century, was for a time displayed in the Thurrock Museum in 1999. The Thurrock Museum Service has produced a fact file which outlines the history of painting:
Belhus Woods Country Park was awarded the Green Flag Award in 2011. The Green Flag Award is the national standard for parks and green spaces across England and Wales.
For more information, visit the Green Flag Award Scheme.
The ancient woodlands have changed little in shape and size since at least 1777, but since then significant extra planting has created new areas. The woodlands are home to rich communities of wildlife and the Ranger Service manages them traditionally for both timber and wildlife. Timber from Running Water Wood is used for thatching and hurdle making, with the hazel plots cut on a regular eight year cycle. This ancient management practice, called coppicing, benefits the wildlife by increasing the amount of sun light reaching the woodland floor allowing seeds to germinate and plants to thrive. Early purple orchids, graceful ragged robins and a sea of bluebells, all grow which in turn provide nectar and shelter for insects and butterflies.
This circular walk, set up with the help of the Woodland Trust and local landowners and funded by the Local Heritage Initiative, follows the boundary of the estate, and takes in all five public access sites, including Belhus Chase which is owned by the Woodland Trust.
Belhus has all types of grassland, from mown grass kept short for picnics to tall swards ideal for grassland butterflies and sky larks. Lake margins and adjacent fields provide ideal sites for family games, while the hay meadows are seas of green, rich with colonies of plants and insects.
Past gravel extraction on the site created a series of lakes, and now provide the visitor with a place to relax by and pleasant waterside walks. The lakes are good for quality coarse fishing. Two lakes have been set aside as conservation areas and are havens for wildlife, but you can see a variety of wildfowl on most of the lakes.
Day tickets for fishing are available on the bank with fishing platforms available for less able anglers. Key available on deposit.
There is a well established 18 hole course with over 46 acres of beautiful parkland.
There is a Ranger Service who organise guided walks and activities, volunteer tasks and Ranger led school visits.
The Education Team offer Early Years to Key Stage 4 curriculum-linked education programmes. To organise a school visit contact the centre on 0845 6037624 to discuss your requirements.
The park opens daily from 8am until dusk. (Check entrance boards for daily lock up times). Pay and Display Car Park charges apply at all times. Parking is free for disabled drivers displaying a blue badge.
There is a visitor centre selling light refreshments and gifts.
A variety of events run throughout the year including wildflower walks, night time bat walks, and charcoal making
Belhus is a reasonably level site with good access for wheelchair users.
Telephone Belhus Park Ranger Service on: 01708 865628
For more information on country parks in Essex please visit: