Bellmount and Londonthorpe Woods once formed part of the 17th century Brownlow Estate around Belton House, but over time this historic landscape has become fragmented. The Woodland Trust and National Trust, supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, are working together to connect these two sites for people to explore and enjoy. 

Car park and track works

Find out more about the car park alternations and track works taking place at Londonthorpe Woods as part of the project in our frequently asked questions.

Our vision for the project

To unite this historic landscape to the east of Belton House, making it accessible to a wider range of people and providing benefits including improved biodiversity, health and wellbeing, learning and skills. Our hope is that this amazing landscape will become a much loved community resource, benefitting the lives of local people and wildlife.

To achieve this, we will:

  • Develop understanding and appreciation of the heritage of Londonthorpe Woods and Bellmount, and the role of trees and woodland in the landscape
  • Create a Londonthorpe 'gateway', with interpretation, joint access and promotion between the sites
  • Promote and improve access, reaching out to diversify the user base at Londonthorpe Woods and Bellmount
  • Promote the sites for healthy, active, informal countryside recreation
  • Encourage local community involvement in the long-term care of both sites through practical training and the creation of a joint volunteering programme
  • Undertake a programme of conservation work to restore and enhance habitats for wildlife, restore built heritage features and establish a programme of long-term ecological monitoring.

Helping nature thrive

Restoring Belton’s Eastern Avenue

This historic avenue of veteran trees has been professionally surveyed and is being managed and restored according to guidance from expert surveyors and consultation with stakeholders. This work will prolong the life of these ecologically valuable trees.

Monitoring wildlife

Our team of wildlife monitor volunteers are surveying the project site to record biodiversity. So far they have surveyed butterflies, birds and wax cap fungi. An ecologist has also carried out bat and bird surveys and has assessed all ponds for the presence of great crested newts. While none have been found so far, we hope that will change with the renovation of the pond at Five Gates Wood.

Habitat conservation

We have several plans in place for habitat conservation including conservation grazing on parts of the site. We plan to fence grazing areas in such a way that walkers will still have full access and not have to interact with the cattle. Some new tree planting has taken place along the boundary with the industrial area to create a screen. We will engage local schools and community groups to help with further planting.

Trails and outdoor classrooms

A number of children's trails and a tree identification trail will help visitors explore the sites, linked to online resources and spotter sheets. We are also planning two dedicated outdoor classroom areas for use by local schools and forest school groups, plus we'll be facilitating class visits to help them gain Green Tree Schools Awards. At Five Gates Wood we will create a pond dipping platform and natural seating area, and at Alma Park a natural seating area will be created. 

Improving health and wellbeing

Guided walks

We will hold regular, volunteer-led guided walks across the sites. These will cover themes such as the history of the site as well as ecology and conservation. These guided walks will also be available on request to local community groups.

To request an introductory walk, email us at reconnectinggrantham@woodlandtrust.org.uk.

Waymarked trails

We have several routes planned of varying distances and across different areas of the site. Routes will show estimated walking time along with the distance of each route. Alongside these waymarked routes we will offer self-led guided walks using an online app.

Cycle route

Planning permission has been secured for a cycle track that runs from Alma Park Industrial Estate to the Londonthorpe car park. This route effectively links the site to Grantham town centre. We are also in discussion with Sustrans to extend their route no. 15 to include this new section.

Easy access trail

Woodlands are not always accessible to people with limited mobility or those that use buggies and mobility scooters. We will create a level, easily accessible circular route within the main Londonthorpe Woods site in order to open the site to more users.

To create interest and resting points along this easy access trail we also plan to create a sensory trail and install benches and perch rests.

Orienteering course

Lincoln Orienteering Group makes use of the project site for an annual orienteering event. We will create a permanent orienteering course and open this up to other users, inviting local schools, scout groups and the MOD to make use of it.

Carers’ days

We will hold regular carers’ days to introduce carers (including parents, teachers and group leaders) to the site and the activities we have on offer.

Email us at reconnectinggrantham@woodlandtrust.org.uk if you'd like to get involved.

Bringing history to life

Interpretation

Londonthorpe Woods and Bellmount have an astonishing history that very few people are aware of. We will create interpretation to tell the stories of past users of these historic sites. Our Historic Research Volunteers have already mapped the interesting features on site to assist with this.

Restoration of historic features

Structural surveys have taken place at Bellmount Tower, at the water tower that sits below it, and at the brick shooting range at Alma Park. These together with the 30-yard machine gun range at Alma Park will be restored or renovated and provided with interpretation explaining their history.

Access to Bellmount Tower

Bellmount Tower is an iconic landmark in Grantham. As soon as repairs and renovations are complete, we will open it up to the public on a regular basis. The broken window glass will be replaced and the historic graffiti will be protected with transparent covers. Interpretation will also be installed. We will recruit tower caretaker volunteers who will open the tower and monitor its condition on a regular basis for interested visitors.

Although Bellmount Tower can be seen from Belton House, it is not accessible through the deer sanctuary and the gate at Five Gates Lane. We will host regular guided walks to facilitate this access. 

National Heritage Open Days

In 2020, Heritage Open Days went online and were self-led. Going forward we will host tours to Bellmount Tower and guided walks to showcase the other historic infrastructure on the site (at Alma Park). Grantham Dramatic Society will dress in period costume and assist with the guided walks and tours of the Tower.

Other plans

Off-site activity

As part of the plans for the restoration for Belton’s Eastern Avenue, a small tree nursery will be set up near the Rangers’ office at Belton House. This will be used for our youth skills training program and for volunteer engagement and training.

Once the cycle route is completed, we will host a 'Ride to the Woods' launch event in collaboration with Wyndham Park and Dysart Park. Our intention is for this to become an annual event. We also plan to offer a series of talks for local groups covering topics of interest relating to the project.

Improved car parks

Londonthorpe car park will be improved and will become the welcome gateway to the site. It will increase slightly in size and have two disabled bays. We will have a small overflow car park for use by visiting groups or for small events. Improvements will include a pedestrian gate alongside the bus layby to allow children to alight directly into the safety of the woods. The National Trust has agreed that Bellmount car park will remain open but will be reduced in size.

Toilet facilities

The lack of toilets on site prevents some groups from using the woods. We will install compost toilets as part of the car park design. Daily opening and closing, servicing and cleaning of toilets will be managed by the facilities team at Belton House. 

Volunteer opportunities

A number of volunteer opportunities will become available during the delivery of the project. We will host regular volunteer training sessions and an annual social event where volunteer groups can share what they’ve been up to and get to know each other.

Skills training

A two-week programme has been created following on from the success of the Woodland Skills Training Week held in February 2019. We will partner with the Grantham and Sleaford Job Centres and will provide training sessions twice per year for unemployed 18–30 year olds.

Project costs

Delivering our partnership vision will cost £1.2m over 4 years. We are grateful to the National Lottery Heritage Fund for funding just under half this amount which is a fantastic kick-start to the project. We are planning to fundraise for the remaining amount from a range of sources and our brilliant members and supporters will be critical in helping us achieve this.

Get in touch

For further information or to give us your feedback or comments, please email Dominic Fieldhouse, community development officer at reconnectinggrantham@woodlandtrust.org.uk.