Development of the lake shore area and also the inclusion of walkways through the woodlands was undertaken by Westmeath County Council following the acquisition of the property in 1982. The woodlands form the entire boundary of the estate along Lough Ennell and Mullingar Golf Club. Many views of the lake and pastureland have been re-opened and subsidiary paths are available to the lakeshore, The Gothic Arch and The Octagonal Gazebo Summerhouse.
The Woodland area was extensively planted with Beech during the 18th Century and a very good “arboretum” of exotic conifers exists in the woodland which was planted in the last century. Pines and Birch dominate close to the lake shore. The paths through the woodland follow the original walkways except for new paths created to cut through the woodlands to the summerhouse, Gothic Arch and viewing points along the lake shore. The important tree groupings each side of the path have been preserved, namely Yews, Lime and Beech. The woodlands of the eastern sector have a richer, broader composition including a conspicuous “pocket” of exotic conifers and there is an Ice House located in the woods. Many of the “Big Houses” of Ireland boasted the amenity of an “ice house” in which to store foodstuffs. The essentials were an underground chamber to ensure an equable low temperature, adequate drainage and a cover which would give both insulation from the sun’s rays and easy access for charging and extracting. Availability of ice was obviously paramount and here it was readily obtained from the lake in winter.
The continuity of Belvedere and its landscape and particularly its great trees is recorded by the carved initials on the tree trunks, some of which date back to the last century. No doubt through the centuries, these woodlands, as they abut the lake shore for young un-invited visitors to the estate, as they came across the lake in boats, or indeed walked the 7 kilometre distance from Mullingar to Belvedere. Some left a record of their visit which still remains today and will remain as long as the tree stands. Many of the trees in the woodlands are well over 100 years old, with one particular Yew tree located close to the Ice House reputed to be over 800 years old.
Lough Ennell or Belvedere Lake is about six miles in length by three in breadth. It is studded with a number of islands, the largest of which is called Fort or Dysart Island. Cro-Inis (Cormorant Island), another of the islands was selected in ancient times by the Kings of Royal Meath as one of their places of abode, and Malachy, King of All Ireland who succeeded Brian Boro, A.D.1014, had a castle here and died on the island in 1022. Goose Island is located close to the lake shore at Belvedere.
The lake holds a very good stock of wild trout averaging 2 lbs. The Irish Record of a 26 lbs. 2 ozs. Trout caught on Lough Ennell by Mr. William Meares on the 15th of July, 1894, which still stands.
The primary key to its productivity lies in its shallow nature with streams very suitable for spawning trout. With such a productive base and a myriad of spawning and nursery areas, the Trout thrive and grow fat on a diet of shrimp, snails, flies and a host of other invertebrates. Not surprisingly there is a tradition of fly fishing on Lough Ennell which goes back to the 18th Century. Dick Harris in his celebrated book ‘An Anglers Entomology’ shows illustrations of flies tied for Lough Ennell in 1791.
Lough Ennell – typical of wild trout fisheries – requires an angler to be skillful, cautious in his approach and possessing a basic knowledge of the fly catches.