Protecting What Comes Naturally

Wide open space, trees as old as time, a world of wildlife and a calm that transcends even the busiest of days at Belvedere. Come walk with us…

When Westmeath County Council acquired Belvedere in 1982, it developed the lake shore area with a network of walkways through the woodlands – so visitors may enjoy this special place at its finest.

The woodlands form the entire boundary of the estate along Lough Ennell and Mullingar Golf Club and were extensively planted with Beech during the 18th Century. Today, the woodland includes an excellent arboretum of exotic conifers, while Pines and Birch dominate close to the lake shore.

Take the paths through the woodland, following the original and new walkways, and enjoy the mighty Yews, Lime and Beech as you go. Step off the trail, sit for a while and enjoy the views of the lake – taking in the beauty and spotting some wildlife.

Please note: there is a combination of tarmac and woodland paths. Accessibility for prams and wheelchairs may be limited in part.


Something to Look Out for…

As you explore the woodland, be sure to look out for Belvedere’s ‘Icehouse’ in the woods. A standard feature of ‘big houses’, this underground chamber was used to store foodstuffs at low temperatures while being insulated from the sun. Ice from the lake in winter was packed into the chamber.

Many of the trees in the woodlands are well over 100 years old, with one Yew tree near the Icehouse reputed to be over 800 years old.

Life at the Lough…

The woodland gives way to Lough Ennell or Belvedere Lake – around six miles in length and studded with many islands, the largest of which is called Fort or Dysart Island. The Kings of Royal Meath chose Cormorant Island as their home, and Malachy, King of All Ireland had a castle here. A wooden sculpture of King Malachy has recently been added to the estate, marking the area’s connection to old Irish kings.

The lough is a fascinating ecosystem, rich with birdlife, flora and fauna. There’s an excellent stock of trout and a great tradition of fly fishing which goes back to the 18th Century. Be warned though: Lough Ennell anglers need to be skilful, cautious and have a basic knowledge of fly catches.

You can expect an excellent show of waterbirds, and the lough is home to nationally important populations of mute swan, pochard, tufted duck and coot. As birds of Conservation Concern in Ireland, golden plover and lapwing are also here. Lough Ennell and the Belvedere estate is also home to a healthy population of red squirrels, foxes, otters and birds of prey included nesting buzzards.

If you visit in winter, look out for mallard, woodcock, sandpiper and redshank – while the lough is famous for the appearance of incredible starling murmurations come evening time, with the appearance of huge flocks of up to half a million birds. An extremely special treat.