Belhus Woods Country Park is a diverse landscape of ancient woodland, grassland and lakes.
The park is open daily from 8am until dusk. Check entrance boards for daily lock-up times. Features of the park include:
- a car park - charges apply for all drivers
- picnic areas - barbeques are not allowed anywhere on site
- good access for wheelchair users - the site is reasonably level
- fishing - day tickets are available on the bank
- school visits
Facilities at the visitor centre include:
- light refreshments
- gifts for sale
- baby changing facilities
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, Lancelot "Capability" Brown can still be seen. The shrubbery and Long Pond were created in 1770.
The Ice House is an 18th century brick-lined well, used as an early form of refrigerated storage. A stench pipe disguised as a Tudor chimney also survives in the south of the park.
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 are managed traditionally.
Timber from Running Water Wood is used for thatching and hurdle making, with the hazel plots cut on a regular 8-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. You can buy fire wood and charcoal produced from this practice.
Early purple orchids, graceful ragged robins and a sea of bluebells all grow which in turn provide nectar and shelter for insects and butterflies.
Grassland and open space
Belhus has all types of grassland, from mown grass kept short to provide picnic areas 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 that provide good quality course fishing. 2 lakes have been set aside as conservation areas and are havens for wildlife.
Educational Rangers from Essex County Council Country Parks Team organise school visits.
Go to Explore Essex: Belhus Woods Country Park for more information.
The park is run by Essex County Council Country Parks team in agreement with Thurrock Council.
: 01708 865 628