Belhus Woods Country Park

Over 300 acres in South Essex, Belhus Woods Country Park combines ancient woodland, kid's play area, meadows and lakes with a visitor centre and café.

At a glance

Opening times

8am-dusk. For specific closing times see here.

The park and toilets are open every day.

For park enquiries: 01708 865628

For event enquiries: Events.ExploreEssex@essex.gov.uk

For filming enquiries: film@essex.gov.uk

Or for event and filming enquiries call: 03330 138222

Find & contact

Belhus Woods Country Park, South Ockendon, Aveley, Greater London, England, RM15 4XJ
Get directions

01708 865628

country.parks@essex.gov.uk

Parking & prices

Up to 1 hour £2.50

Up to 2 hours £3.80

Up to 4 hours £5.10

All day £6.30

Car parking prices as of 1 April 2024

Up to one hour: £2.80

Up to two hours: £4.00

Up to four hours: £5.20

All day: £6.30

How to pay

Payment is available through the MiPermit website, app or onsite terminals.

Visit the MiPermit portal page to pre-pay.

Discover the Explorer Pass from just over £1.63 a week to save on multiple visits.

Money from car parking is ultimately reinvested to maintain the park and protect its wildlife.

At this place

  • Kid's Play
  • Café
  • Lake
  • Fishing
  • Dogs allowed
  • Picnics allowed
  • BBQs not allowed

The café is open for hot and cold drinks, sweet treats, paninis, sausage rolls and snacks from 10.00am to 4.00pm seven days a week. Poor weather and exceptions may apply.

We welcome dogs on leads into the café.


*Visitor Notice -
fishing*

An Environment Agency rod licence and a fishing permit is required. Fishing permits can be purchased here.

Introduction

Green Flag Award

Download our new park map here.

Download theActive Essex 'Daily Mile' walking route at Belhus Woods as a PDF. or Jpg.


Belhus Country Park is proud to be the recipient of a Green Flag award. Read more here.


Please visit safely. Always:

  • Keep dogs under control
  • Respect other users on multi-use trails
  • Be water aware and supervise children and dogs near ponds, rivers and lakes
  • Note that swimming is prohibited
  • Keep off the ice in the winter

Set over 300 acres in South Essex, Belhus Woods Country Park combines ancient woodland and working woods, kid's play area, flower meadows, open grassland, fishing and conservation lakes.

It’s a great place to walk your dog, cycle, picnic by the lake, feed the ducks, go fishing or spot wildlife. There are many different activities throughout the year for families and nature enthusiasts alike, and a large fenced exercise field and dog agility area are situated on site.

Children will love the musical themed play area. Featuring multiple types of play for all ages, children can play musical instruments, climb and swing the hours away.

The play area is surrounded by a short grassland which is perfect for a picnic. There is seating available within the play area and around the edges. And plenty of trees to provide dappled shade and shelter.

Birdwatchers can discover interesting species in abundance at Belhus Woods. Bird life includes mute swans, tufted ducks, woodpeckers, kingfishers, kestrels and lapwings. In winter, you’ll see small flocks of finches, such as siskins and redpolls. Sand martins and nightingales are among the spring nesting birds on site.

Discover handy hints on how to attract wildlife to your garden from Belhus Park Rangers Tom and Laura. Explore more about hedgehogs and insects.

Activities

For Children

Children love our musical themed play area. Featuring multiple types of play for all ages, children can play musical instruments, climb and swing the hours away. The play area is surrounded by a short grassland which is perfect for a picnic. There is also seating available within the play area and around the edges.

*Read and Count with Me Under a Tree. Borrow a book bag in the park! Read more here.

For Dogs

Belhus Woods is perfect for dog walking with large trails through the woodland and round the lake. There is also a large fenced area and dog agility training area, please observe good dog owners etiquette at all times.

Cycling

Cycle paths at Belhus Woods take you through all kinds of surroundings, from grassland to meadows and lakes. The flat terrain makes it a great place for the novice cyclist and families, and the large car parks offer plenty of space to load and unload bikes.

Bike racks at the visitor centre make it easy to pop in and grab a drink or snack. Please note that we do have a height barrier into the entrance to the car park so if you have bikes on the top of your car you will need to come into the visitor centre and we will be happy to open it for you.

Birdwatching and Wildlife

Birdwatchers will find interesting species in abundance at Belhus Woods. Bird life includes mute swans, tufted ducks, woodpeckers, kingfishers, kestrels and lapwings. In winter, you’ll see small flocks of finches, such as siskins and redpolls.

Major tree species include English oak, field maple, hazel and hornbeam.

You’ll also see many beautiful wildflowers such as bluebell, early purple orchid and lily-of-the-valley.

Walking

Belhus Woods is an accessible site for walking, with a flat terrain and open and denser areas of woodland. You can pass through many habitats, such as ancient woodland, coppice plantations and wildflower meadows and see our expansive lakes abundant in flora and fauna. It really does feel like you’re escaping the hustle and bustle.

Archery club

West Essex Bowmen’s archery club is one of largest in country, meeting regularly in the field near the visitor centre, catering to all from beginners to advanced. Beginner courses are held over three Saturdays in April and September, with qualified coaches teaching safety and basic technique. Contact the club for more information.

Fishing

There are two large fishing lakes in the park. You can fish with up to two rods but you must have an Environment Agency rod licence and a fishing permit(s) before you visit.

Please see our fishing terms and conditions here.

A daily permit is available to purchase here.

Please note: Essex Country Parks reserve the right to close the fishing lakes on an annual basis to maintain the health of the fish stock.

Volunteering

Volunteering at Belhus Woods is hands-on and is a great way to meet people, learn about conservation, get a bit of exercise and make a difference to the woods. You'll get to have a go at many tasks, such as coppicing, charcoal making and creating habitats for a variety of different wildlife. Our weekly volunteer sessions are led by our Rangers on Tuesday and Thursday mornings from 9.30am until 12.30pm. There is also a biodiversity surveying group to record the wildlife of the park that meets on Friday mornings. If you are interested in joining us, please call 01708 865 628 or email country.parks@essex.gov.uk

Facilities

Park mobility and accessibility

You can borrow one of our 4×4 (four-wheel drive) All-Terrain Tramper mobility scooters for free.

A member of the park team will provide some basic training on how to use the scooter and provide a number for you to quote when booking.

To book training and any future uses of the scooter please call 01708 865628 or come into the visitor centre.


Information on access to Belhus Woods Country Park can be found on AccessAble, formerly Disabled Go.

Toilets

You can find public toilets near the car park and visitor centre. These include disabled and baby changing facilities.

History

Historic projects have identified traces of a prehistoric settlement on the site of the park dating back to the late Bronze age/early iron age.

Most of the area was cleared of its natural woodlands in or before the Roman era and has remained as farmland ever since.

During the Norman settlement it was retained as a working woodland and used for producing woodland products, grazing and hunting.

During the 15th to 20th centuries the Belhus Estate stood on the site and included the land that is now the golf course, where some remains of the foundation of the mansion can still be seen.

In the 1750's, the renowned landscaper Capability Brown planned the conversion of the meadows into a beautiful focal point referred to as the Long Pond. Unfortunately, this was divided into two by the building of the M25 but the rounder top half still exists and is home to newts and other wildlife.

Shop, Eat & Drink

The café will be closed from Monday 8 January to Sunday 28 January 2024 due to unforeseen circumstances. We apologise for any inconvenience caused.


The café at Belhus Woods is usually open every day from 10.00am-4.00pm seven days per week. *Poor weather and exceptions may apply

The café offers light refreshments such as hot and cold drinks, cakes and snacks all subject to availability.

Dogs on leads are welcome in the café.

Please note that barbecues are not allowed due to the risk of fire. Picnics are welcome.

Please note that barbecues are not allowed due to the risk of fire. Picnics are welcome.

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