Visiting Belhus Woods Country Park With Children

Belhus Woods Country Park is a beautiful outdoor space in South Essex covering over 300 acres. Belhus is made up of grasslands, woodland, flower meadows, lakes, a playground with a visitor centre and cafe. It is the Northern most part of what was once the Belhus Estate. Some of the 18th century park designed by Richard Woods and Capability Brown can still be seen, but the Estate is mostly now covered in a golf course and football club.

A view of the Belhus Woods Country Park playground
Belhus Woods has a great playground

Visiting Belhus Woods Country Park

Why Belhus Woods Country Park Is A Good Place To Visit With Children:

  • A walk around the lake takes about 20 minutes making it manageable for little legs.
  • The path round the lakes is easy to use with pushchairs. 
  • The playground is really good for a range of ages.
  • You can explore the grass meadows and see all the wildflowers. 
  • There is plenty of woodland to play in.

  • There’s some lovely wide open spaces so we like to take a football to kick about.
  • There are often child friendly activities run from the Visitors Centre including an Easter trail. 
  • If you have a dog it is a really great place to visit as not only can dogs go in the play area (on a lead), but they have an enclosed space and agility course that is great for dog training. 

A meadow full of daisies at Belhus Woods Country Park
The large meadows are often filled with wild flowers

What Is There To Do At Belhus Woods Country Park?

The Playground

The playground is a 5 minutes walk from the car park. It is fantastic and caters for a wide range of ages. The play area is music themed with various musical instruments to investigate and play.  There is a sand pit area and small climbing frame for the younger children, whilst a large cargo net climbing frame structure and twisty slides provide fun for older children. 

A bonus for dog owners is that dogs can also enter the playground (on a lead) making it great for families having a day out with their dog. If your children are nervous around dogs this may be less idea though. 

Tougher climbing areas at Belhus Woods playground for older children
Belhus Woods play area has challenging areas for older children as well as areas for younger children too

Belhus Woods playground
The playground is popular is a good size

The Lakes

The main lake has a good path around it and you can walk around in about 20 minutes. If you are lucky you might catch people racing their model boats across the lake. You can also enjoy feeding the ducks. There are several other lakes you can walk around too including some which are used for fishing and others in conservation areas.

Enjoy a walk around the lake at Belhus
The fishing lakes attract plenty of bird life

The Woods and Grassland

Beyond the playground and lake there is plenty more of the Country Park to explore. You can download a map of a 1.5km “daily mile” route which starts from the car park and goes via the lake and playground. Alternatively you can explore the footpaths to go further afield. 

It is possible to find signs of the old Belhus Estate for those who are happy to walk further. The Long Pond is divided by the M25 with most of it on the far side of the motorway as well as the 18th century Ice House. However this map shows you the footpaths, where you can see the start of the Long Pond and the “Stench pipe”, a pretty Victorian chimney thought to be used to remove smells from the old Estate house. 

Ancient woodland at Belhus Woods Country Park
Belhus Woods has a mixture of ancient woodland and grassland 

Eating At Belhus Woods

There is a café next to the car park which sells hot drinks, cold drinks and snacks so if you want something more substantial bring a picnic. There are plenty of places to sit and eat including benches dotted around the woods, some picnic tables at the playground or you could bring a blanket and set up wherever you fancy.

View across a courtyard to Belhus Woods Visitors Centre
There is a Visitors Centre, café and undercover seating near the car park

What age children will enjoy visiting Belhus Woods?

All ages can enjoy Belhus Woods. For younger children you can choose to head straight to the playground (a 5 minute walk from the car park) or a short stroll around the lake to feed the ducks. For older children you can explore the woods more fully, climb some trees, watch the boats and still enjoy the playground with its challenging cargo net climbing frame. The council recommend the playground is for under 12s.

Is it suitable for pushchairs?

It is definitely a pushchair friendly site. There is a path around the lake and other solid paths around the woods. The playground is on a grassland area though so you may have to push the buggy across when you are stopping off to play.

What You need To Know Before Visiting


There are toilets and baby changing facilities next to the Visitor Centre (right next to the car park). These aren’t always looked after too well unfortunately but this could be due to visiting on busy days.

Opening hours

Opening hours for the Country Park and car park are 8am to dusk.
The Visitor Centre is open 9.30am to 3.30pm on weekdays and 9.30am to 4pm at the weekends.
The cafe is usually open 10am to 4pm


There are often free activities and trails, you can find out what's on here. 
You can get permits for fishing.
There is an archery club that meets near the Visitors Centre. 
There are cycle paths through the woods which are mostly flat making them good for families.

Is It Dog Friendly?

Belhus Woods is very dog friendly. Well controlled dogs can be off lead apart from the playground area where they request that they are on lead. With the dog agility area your dog will enjoy their own play area too without you worrying about losing them.
Dogs on leads are welcome in the cafe.

Dog agility area at Belhus Woods
Belhus Woods is great for dogs and even has an agility area

What To Take With You When Visiting?

  • If you plan to visit for the day then bring a picnic as food in the café is limited. 
  • You might want to bring a picnic blanket if it is likely to be busy so you can be sure of somewhere to sit.
  • The playground has a sandpit area so children might want a bucket and spade. 
  • You might want to bring a ball or other games to play in the meadow.
  • Wellies can be a good idea when it has been wet or for the sandpit.

How To Get To Belhus Woods & Where To Park


Belhus Woods Country Park, South Ockendon, Aveley, RM15 4XJ

Getting There:

It is easy to locate and the postcode (RM15 4XJ) gets you there accurately. The entrance and exit are the same narrow road so drive slowly.


There is lots of parking. A tarmac car park when you first enter and an overflow parking is available on grass. 

You have to pay for parking at all time. Car park fees are: 

Up to 1 hour £2.50
Up to 2 hours £3.80
Up to 4 hours £5.10
All day £6.30
You can also purchase a Season ticket Explorer Pass through the Explore Essex website, this can be used across other sites including the Thorndon (for the Gruffalo Trail) and Great Notley.

What is there to do nearby Belhus Woods Country Park?

Stubbers Adventure Centre is about 5 minutes drive away. They have: a discovery trail, play areas, sand play and paddle areas included in the general entry (£4 children, £3 adults) and bookable activities like climbing, pedalo and other watersports. 

Thames Chase is about 10 minutes away for more woodland and trails.

Chafford Gorges Nature Park is about 15 minutes drive away.

Lakeside Shopping Centre is about 15 minutes away although at peak times the traffic around it can be very congested. As well as all the shops and restaurants Lakeside has plenty of entertainment like Nickelodeon Adventure, a Vue cinema, Flip Out, climbing at Rock Up, Mini Golf at Puttshack and bowling at Hollywood Bowl.

Photographs and recommendations by Charlotte who can be found on Instagram as @the_wolf_mother_project

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