Bucket list – ‘Visit Belvoir castle’ = completed
This castle has been on my own personal wish list for some years now, but I knew that it was somewhere to take my castle loving boy. Last week my Mum and myself finally took Jamie on a beautiful spring day. Belvoir castle is located near Grantham in Leicestershire, east midlands. It commands amazing views on the top of a hillside. It has been in a continuous family line for almost a thousand years as the ancestral home of the Dukes of Rutland.
You can see from my photo above just how much the castle stands out as you are driving near.
When you arrive at the car park there is a small shop where you pay for your entrance to the grounds and or castle. You can also get sandwiches, ice cream, snacks and drinks here. We asked if this was the only place to eat and we were informed that there is a restaurant up at the castle. So we chose to head up to the castle and eat there. The path up to the castle is quite steep and although it’s a path it is quite rough ground.
It took us around 10 minutes to walk up to the castle. There is some disabled parking up at the top for those who can’t manage the path.
As you get nearer the castle the view of the building itself is just stunning, the gardens looked amazing and we were looking forward to investigating them later on.
We entered the castle, which has the most fabulous entrance hall, and found our way to the ‘restaurant’. It is more of a tea room with the focus being on sandwiches and afternoon tea. They had some lovely looking home-made cakes. We had a sandwich each and Jamie had a scone. The prices were fair, I was pleased we’d ordered a scone to share as well. The room was nice and certainly one for people who like taxidermy.
After lunch we had a look around the castle. You are not allowed to take photos inside the castle, unless by prior agreement. Which was a bit of a shame for me as if I see something I like then I naturally want to photograph it. I have included 3 photos below from their website.
As you can see the rooms are lavishly decorated. I must admit we did say ‘wow’ quite a few times, when entering a room. The family obviously use quite a lot of the rooms when it is shut to visitors. It’s nice to see that these rooms are obviously used. There’s quite a lot of personal photos around the place. Our favourite room was the big long salon with the huge bay window. The chandeliers are fabulous and the room is beautifully furnished.
We did have a plan of getting Jamie to spot something in every room. This was so we had a chance to actually look in the rooms properly. We didn’t need to do it in the end as for once he wasn’t zooming through the rooms at break neck speed. He does love to be the first in every room and gets annoyed if we try to go in first. Another room that was especially special compared to other houses/castles was the kitchen. It was huge and I could visualise a busy kitchen full of servants cooking and cleaning. You could certainly have cooked up a massive feast in there.
We came across a few members of staff on our travels, some quite a few times. They were all keen to chat and very friendly to us. They all made an effort to talk to Jamie which was nice.
We were all suitably impressed with the interior of the castle and the walk around was just the right length of time for us. As we had spotted some canons from inside the castle Jamie was keen to go and look. So that is where we headed after leaving the inside of the castle.
The beautiful gardens
You can pay to look round the gardens without paying to see the castle. I honestly can’t remember the last time that I looked around such beautiful gardens. You can’t help but fall in love with them and my quantity of photos that I took proved that. I’m sure the huge quantity of spring flowers and blossoms helped but I am also sure that the gardens are good to walk around at any time of year. The roses and rhododendrons were yet to bloom. There’s lots to see and explore. I recommend a good pair of sturdy shoes. The walk is very hilly and the paths vary in design and quality.
We started in the statue garden which had some very handsome statues and a pond. There is a really good view of the gardens as you are walking down here.
There is a really sweet pet cemetery in this part of the gardens.
The Japanese woodland area was mostly not yet in bloom but we all had a welcome rest on the bench overlooking the lake.
We were given a map to help us navigate our way around the gardens. I was in charge though and I must admit I kept ending up where I didn’t think we actually were. But it all turned out OK in the end and we mostly followed the coloured arrows to do a loop of the gardens. If you basically walk lower down you will eventually come to the loop back which will then take you up higher. There is also a longer ‘black’ walk that is approx. 3 miles.
Back in 2013 plans for the gardens once drawn up by Capability Brown were found. He drew the plans in 1780 and they were thought to have been lost in a fire. The Duchess of Rutland and her team have restored much of the woodland and uncovered lost Victorian grottos, while keeping to his original plans.
Although we did a lot of walking we actually didn’t see everything. I have since realised that we should have incorporated the blue spiral walk into our walk around the grounds. There is an ice house here, plus a subterranean passage and more.
We did manage to find the stumpery in the Duchess gardens. This was created by the Victorians to showcase their ferns, as one does!
Jamie had so much fun discovering the cave and the grotto. I must say they were both a nice surprise. For a castle that has no real focus for children the grounds themselves were great for Jamie. I wouldn’t recommend the walk with a buggy but I’d certainly recommend it for kids age 3+. We had a real sense of adventure exploring.
The last part of our walk took us through the higher part of the Duchess garden. Here we found the root and moss house. It was originally built in 1818 and restored in 2014. This house is just stunning in design. We spent quite awhile the three of us just sat in here admiring the view.
They have made a huge effort lately with their planting and I’m sure that in a few years time the landscape will look even more lovely than it does today. Someone has planted a lot of daffodil bulbs which we loved to see. The blossom and flowers coming through on the trees were also a magnificent sight.
Back down at the car park we treated ourselves to one last cold drink before setting off for home. Plus a much needed rest for Mum and I. I’d say Jamie too but he has unlimited energy and kept going for a run around the picnic tables (as you do after you’ve walked nearly all day).
I’m not sure how many visitors they want to attract here but it may be nice for them to include something for the little ones. Even if it’s just a few things to sit on or play with in the gardens. Natural musical toys would be a great inclusion. It doesn’t have to be a playground, just something for them to interact with. Maybe even a trail of some sort. It would also be nice to see sandwich options for them in the café too. I would bring Jamie here again as we had a really lovely day out. He even said so himself! It makes a nice change to a busy kid packed tourist attraction. I think our cultural heritage can give children a far more rewarding day out than a farm or a theme park. We are very lucky to live in such a historic country.
The important bit
Belvoir castle is actually pronounced Beaver. I am not sure why as I much prefer the French word meaning ‘Beautiful view’, which Belvoir certainly has.
As mentioned above there is a shop with food and snacks at the main car park, plus a café inside the castle itself. You must check their website for opening days and times before you leave. It is usually open from the end of March on selected days until October. You can check their calendar here. Some days they aren’t open at all, others just the gardens are open and mostly weekends and some days in school holidays everything is open.
Normal opening hours are 11am-5pm. You can view the castle free-flow or on a guided tour. We paid £16 each for myself and my Mum. Jamie is 3 so he was free. You only pay for children ages 4-16 at a price of £9. This price was for entry into the castle and it’s gardens. Garden only tickets are less and guided tour tickets slightly more.
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