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Stunning views and a country house make a grand day out

Perfect for a late summer day, this family woodland walk near Grantham, starts from the National Trust Bellmount car park at Belton (grid ref 944389).

This can be reached either from Belton village or from the east by turning off the Ermine Street and approaching via Londonthorpe.

The area is on OS Landranger maps 130 (Grantham) or Explorer 247.

The walk itself is three miles (five kilometres) long and short enough, indeed intended, to be combined with a visit to the magnificent Belton House nearby.

There are no refreshments en route, but the Stag Inn at Barkston is close to hand, Belton House has its own caf, and the grassy slopes below the Bellmount Tower make an elevated picnic spot.

The views from the Bellmount Tower are quite outstanding, looking out over Belton's deer park towards Grantham, with St Wulfram's Church spire prominent, with the hills of the Vale of Belvoir beyond, while the views from Londonthorpe on its hilltop are equally grand.

Londonthorpe is mentioned in the Domesday Book under the name 'Lundetorp', but St John The Baptist Church is the only surviving mediaeval building.

Its tower is C13th and has a saddleback roof (unusual in Lincolnshire) that was added in Victoria times.

This estate village is mostly mid-Victorian in date, so the architectural style of the cottages is consistent and typical of the period.

Look out for the ornate bus shelter converted from an old conduit (water supply) house.

Nikolaus Pevsner, quite rightly, in his Buildings of England: Lincolnshire points out the Bellmount Tower is not a tower at all, regardless of being so named on OS maps, but an arch.

In 1719 Sir John Brownlow was created Viscount Tyrconnel and it was to his memory that the 'tower' was built in 1750/51.

The windows are 'Venetian' in style and there is an upper room (not accessible to the public) originally used for 'picnics'.

Restored by the National Trust in 1989 it commands perhaps the best view of the whole walk.

The Woodland Trust is a national organisation which has its headquarters in nearby Grantham.

It was founded in 1972 and since then has acquired over 1000 woods throughout the country, totalling 47,000 acres.

Londonthorpe Wood, planted between 1991 and 1995, comprises 155 acres and is its local showpiece and a popular local attraction with car park and maps provided.

Belton is of course one of England's great country houses.

The Brownlow family purchased the estate around 1617 and the house we know today was built in the 1680s.

In 1936 the current Lord Brownlow was Lord in Waiting to Edward VIII and was, as a close friend, involved in the abdication scandal over Mrs Wallis Simpson.

Also, Belton House was the setting for the popular children's fantasy novel Moondial by Helen Cresswell, and there's a great outdoor adventure playground too!

THE WALK: From the Bellmount car park turn left along road until you reach a road junction.

Cross into the unsurfaced lane opposite and after a few yards, as it begins to steepen, go through gate on the right into Londonthorpe Wood.

Follow the grass path ahead to the first junction, then bear left uphill until you eventually join a clear path within the trees of adjoining Alma Wood, which stretches along the hilltop.

Now turn left.

On leaving the trees at a gate continue along a grass track to join Newgate Lane near Londonthorpe, turn left into the village.

At the road junction look for the footpath sign and kissing gate that are just across to your left and in front of a house.

(But to first explore Londonthorpe turn right then left into Church Lane - and return.)

From the kissing gate walk diagonally down a meadow to a stile in a hedge and keep forward in the next field to second stile and gate accessing Londonthorpe Wood again.

Keep forward for a few yards and then take the first path on the right.

Climb a stile into a grass field and turn sharp right beside a hedge for a few yards to another stile. Now in a large meadow head diagonally up to stile in its top left hand corner.

A gentle climb through the Bellmount Plantation now begins.

When the path splits bear left, making another left turn at the top of the hill before swinging right to reach a final stile with Bellmount Tower seen ahead. From it turn left downhill back to start.

 
 
 

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