Hadleigh Castle Country Park walk
Essex Coastline, a ruined castle with a view, and 2 Tree Island
This is a list of previous times this walk has been done by the club (since Jan 2010). For more recent events (since April 2015), full details are shown.
|Mon, ||Full Wolf Moon Evening Walk: Benfleet to Leigh-on-Sea via Hadleigh Castle Ruins||7||bright full wolf moon|
|Tue, ||Evening Walk: Hadleigh Castle under a Full Beaver Moon (Benfleet 2 Leigh-on-Sea)||5||full beaver moon|
|Sun, ||Leigh Folk Festival / Benfleet Circular||5|
|Sun, ||Sunday Special: Leigh Folk Festival||11||sunny with some cloud|
|Sun, ||Sunday short walk to Leigh Folk Fesival||7||cloudy and sunny then rainy then sunny|
|Sun, ||Benfleet to Leigh-on-Sea||11|
|Sun, ||Benfleet to Leigh-on-Sea|
Train: 17:58 Shoeburyness train from London Fenchurch St. Station (18:03 Limehouse/18:08 West Ham), arriving Benfleet at 18:38 – buy a day return to Leigh-on-Sea
Return: Trains back from Leigh-on-Sea are at: 13, 20, 43 and 50 minutes past the hour
Distance: 3.5 miles or 5.5 km
Difficulty: 1 out of 10
January is the month of the Wolf Moon because wolves become active at this time of year (apparently). I do not expect to see any wolves along this stretch of the Thames, but the ruins of Hadleigh castle are particularly atmospheric by moonlight.....and the forecast looks reasonable (at present)..... It should only take about 1.5 hours to walk to Leigh-on-Sea – so plenty of time to have a meal in one if its many pubs before heading back to London. More information and a map of the route can be found here.
Ps: You may want to bring a head torch…but, hopefully, the moon will provide enough light on a straightforward route largely along the Thames…
7 adventurers gathered at the exit of Benfleet station and set off in the dark under a bright full wolf moon . The conditions were perfect for our escapade...clear skies, bright moon providing plenty of light to find our way, fairly firm ground underfoot and no wind. We encountered two challenges -- one enormous puddle that was more like a lake and required some care to cross with dry feet and a large swath of the gloopy stuff at one end of a field -- which was also overcome with some modest route adaptation.... Both the route along the river and then the castle ruins atop the hill were wonderfully atmospheric in the moonlight...The front runners arrived at the Crooked Billet about 8:30pm with others joining a bit later....the final group caught the 10:13pm back to London...A fun night out!
Train: 18:13 Leigh-on-Sea train from London Fenchurch St. Station (18:17 Limehouse/18:23 West Ham), arriving Benfleet at 18:53 – buy a day return to Leigh-on-Sea
Return: Trains back from Leigh-on-Sea are at: 20:57; 21:13; 21:20; 21:43; 21:50; 21:57; 22:13; 22:20; 22:43; and 22:50
Distance: 3.5 miles or 5.5 km
Difficulty: 1 out of 10
November is the month of the Beaver Moon, named as such because this is when beavers begin working in earnest on their winter dams, often at night by the light of a full moon. Although I do not envisage seeing any beavers working away on dams along the Thames; hopefully, we will have nice views of the full moon over the estuary. Some of us did a longer version of this route last year and the moon was soooo bright we almost needed sunglasses! The ruins of Hadleigh castle are particularly atmospheric by moonlight..... It should only take about 1.5 hours to walk to Leigh-on-Sea – so plenty of time to have a meal in one if its many pubs before heading back to London. More information and a map of the route can be found here.
Ps: You may want to bring a head torch…but, hopefully, the moon will provide enough light on a straight forward route largely along the Thames…
As I was waiting for the train on the West Ham platform (with some light sprinkles of rain in the air), I imagined that this report would start something like "your lonely correspondent set off alone in the dark...." HOWEVER, much to my very pleasant surprise, I spied 3 familiar faces on the train and we were met by an early arrival at the ticket barriers, making for 5 setting off under a full beaver moon . The moon shone brightly for most of our outing (allowing us to dodge around many mud puddles and cow pats) with occasional passing clouds....The route along the creek was easy to follow (but rather muddy in places) and we had no problems finding our way up to the castle ruins atmospherically illuminated by the moonlight. Some clouds moved in on the final stretch into Leigh on Sea where we all had a pleasant meal at the Crooked Billet. Two set off for the 21:43 and the trailing three arrived with impeccable timing for the 21:57. A very enjoyable evening!
Short walk 3 .5 miles Difficulty: 1 out of 10 (4 miles, 2/10 with castle)
Circular walk 15.2km (9.8miles ) /18.6km (11.6 miles) Difficulty 4/10
Theres something for everyone here.
Blithe, fun-seeking hedonists can choose the short walk to Leigh Folk Festival. There, there'll be free stages along the waterfront as well as artists in other venues.
Dour, music-hating misanthropes wanting a proper walk with no added fun can choose the circular walk via Benfleet Down. This walk (which you need to download seperately) has been well received on previous outings.
The walks start differently from Benfleet Station so the misanthropes should be careful not to follow the hedonists (and vice versa).
Trains. Get a return to Leigh-on-Sea (not to be confused with any of the other Lees and Leighs in the south-east). It costs no more than Benfleet and covers you for both endings.
The 10:25 Shoeburyness train from Fenchurch Street (West Ham 10:34, Barking 10:40) is suggested for both walks, arriving at Benfleet at 11:09. Fenchurch Street station is close to Tower Hill tube, follow the signs.
Returning from Leigh on Sea, the fastest trains are at xx:56, xx:26 with slower ones at xx:43, and xx:15. The last train is at 22:56 arriving Fenchurch St at 23:46. Trains leave Benfleet 4 or 5 minutes later.
• Get your short 'festival' walk directions here (short walk 14). Most of it is through Hadleigh Castle Country Park. You can continue along the creek all the way into Leigh or, partway, head left for the castle ruins, a good place for a picnic. (Note, though, that this year the festival boasts a Food Village in Foundry Car Park, adjacent to Strand Wharf. "A diverse and eclectic offer of street food and international cuisines for all to enjoy, hand-picked to suit every taste bud."). Note the railway station on your way into Leigh – that’s where you will be leaving from. Although the music festival is free, it depends on donations so be sure to give something.
• The circular walk directions are here (SWC walk 268). This shares the same picnic spot as the short walk (Hadleigh Castle). Although the notes suggest Leigh-on-Sea for lunch, the pubs and eateries there will be busy today. The walk passes close to Hadleigh Farms Rare Breed Centre Adm. £4. The longest walk includes a circuit of Two Tree Island. You may wish to visit Barge Gladys for refreshments on the return leg to Benfleet, though I've heard that the steps to the top deck make the walk a 5/10! You could also use the morning of this walk for a more energetic approach to the festival.
Another route is from shoeburyness station to Leigh, mostly road walking along the seafront with some pretty wildflower meadow & about 9.4m. I did this last year and recommend it if you want something different
Bear in mind hedonism is the national religion of Essex - misanthropes should carry some ID and/or a small bottle of prosecco for emergencies.
However it should be perfectly possible to do the longer walk and still get plenty of music in, as the festival carries on into the evening
Also don't forget "folk music" has a different meaning in Essex, encompassing all sorts of soft rock and more
Expect any eating/ drinking establishments to be absolutely rammed although you can get a drink with patience, and fresh seafood too. But I wouldn't rely on getting a nice quiet pub lunch a la the usual SWC gig
I wasn't able to attend this year :( but I have heard there were 5 hedonists on the train and that at least two more out and out pleasure-seekers avoided the walk and went direct to the festival. The SWC group was overtaken at the castle by a larger contingent from CLOG. No doubt rushing there to do one of their special dances. The hit of the festival was Granny's Attic.
No word on the misanthropes - or the weather
Short walk 3.5 miles Difficulty: 1 out of 10
Longer Circular 15.3km (9.6 mile) 4 out of 10
We have paid a visit to Leigh Folk Festival for several years now and the short walk was devised to lead you directly there (though many now veer off to visit the castle ruins on the way). In Leigh, there'll be free stages along the waterfront as well as artists in other venues. If you’re mainly interested in the festival, choose the short walk.
For those wanting a proper walk, there is an exciting development this year - a new Benfleet Circular via Benfleet Down. Do the whole thing or use the first half for a more energetic (5.6 ml) approach to the festival.
The directions for the short walk are here. Most of it is through Hadleigh Castle Country Park and this map of the park might come in handy. En route, a left turn will take you to the castle, a good place for a picnic. (There are food outlets in Leigh but things can get busy). Note the railway station on your way into Leigh – that’s where you will be leaving from.
The directions for the circular walk are here. You share the same picnic spot as the short walk (Hadleigh Castle). Although the directions suggest Leigh-on-Sea for lunch, remember that Leigh’s pubs and eateries will be very busy today. The route takes you near Hadleigh Farm's Rare Breeds Centre. It should be open today 10:30 to 17:00, admission £3.50. This is the first outing for this longer walk - a walk-check, in fact. The author would appreciate any feedback.
Trains. Get a return to Leigh-on-Sea (not to be confused with Lee in London, or Leigh in Kent). (This costs no more than a return to Benfleet).
The fastest service leaves from Liverpool Street this Sunday, twice an hour. (Earlier trains still leave from Fenchurch Street, as do the slower stopping services.)
The 10:23 Shoeburyness train from Liverpool Street is suggested for both walks. (Stratford 10:30, Barking 10:39, arriving Benfleet at 11:09)
Returning from Leigh on Sea, the faster trains to Liverpool St are at xx:56, xx:26 with slower ones to Fenchurch Street at xx:43, and xx:13. If we have any night owls, the last train is at 22:56 arriving Fenchurch St at 23:49.
Trains leave Benfleet at xx:01, xx:31 to Liverpool St and xx:17, xx:47 to Fenchurch St..
Thanks for this Ian. As the author of this new walk I'll be taking the opportunity to check and amend the detailed instructions. Any help and comments gratefully received.
Now I might do the walk on Sunday. But I can't Guarantee I will. But I am just wondering what is so special about this walk?
The castle and the estuary have their charms but what's special is the visit to to the Folk Festival.
I'll leave Ian to report on numbers but I eventually reached Benfleet via a slow train from Fenchurch Street. I was hoping to catch the designated train at Stratford but no information was displayed on the departure boards and the staff knew nothing and just directed you to West Ham to pick up trains from Fenchurch Street. A hurried journey from Stratford to West Ham ensued.
On the long circular walk I picked up a slower walker and later three faster ones who all had no problems with the draft instructions which is good news. On the climb up to Hadleigh Castle we were intercepted by a herd of cattle led by a huge Bull who were heading for a trough for a drink. A bit disconcerting but all was ok. We all lunched at Hadleigh Castle with its expansive estuary views over Canvey Island and beyond before ambling on to Leigh. Here we split up and I lingered only to take a look at a couple of bands and enjoy an ice cream before ambling back along the estuary path to Benfleet. I stopped off at the Barge Gladys for a big mug of builders tea-most refreshing- before a fast train back to Stratford. Hope all enjoyed their day out. I'll be redrafting bits of the walk over the next couple of weeks before adding it to our library.
The designated train DID stop at Stratford at the appointed time but, apparently, the platform was not announced until the last minute and staff were misdirecting people to West Ham. About 16 people were spotted in Leigh. I think about 11 of those walked there. 5 did the long walk, the rest doing the short-walk-with-castle. And one walked from Shoeburyness. On our walk we encountered someone walking the other way shackled to a ball and chain! (not included in numbers) The long walk met with approval…”varied, undulating” One suggestion was to reverse the direction of the long walk so all could walk together in the morning. (This wouldn’t quite work with the castle visit included)weather was sunny with some cloud Highlights included Trembling Bells, Crying Lions, Wild Willy Barrett. By the time we left, several oysters had died and some of us were the worse for drink. Well, I was anyway.
Thanks for the favourable comments re the long walk. as Ian points out it would not really work in reverse as the visit to the ruined castle is a highlight. Also it is meant to be a "stand alone" walk that can be done at any time of the year with possible visits to the rare breeds centre. In May there should be lovely displays of wild flowers and given dry weather - sections can get very muddy - this could be the best time of year to do it.
Thanks Pete - comments as promised:
2 more of us who did the outward leg of the round walk went on to complete it after a beer in Leigh. Lovely contrast to the morning. Nothing further to report in the same league as our bull or bloke with ball and chain dragging things behind them..
Point 6. There didn't seem as much as 20m between getting clear sight of the metal field gate and turning R on to the open field track; then once we'd turned R off the track we met a footpath that had evidently followed the RH field edge from the corner. Might be clearer, as well as more direct and less boggy, to follow the field edge all the way?
Point 12. We felt the clearest and most interesting landmark here on L was the Iron Age round house.
Point 13. Might be helpful to clarify the turn off the road, eg: 'at the signs and info boards turn left to go through a gap..' We wavered at the word continue.
Point 30. When on the pavement the busy main road is on your L not your R.
Thanks for this Liz, will incorporate your suggestions into the final version which will be added to our walks library in the next couple of weeks.
3.5 miles Difficulty: 1 out of 10
This short walk along the Essex shoreline coincides with Leigh Folk Festival and is getting to be a regular feature. In Leigh, you'll find free stages along the waterfront as well as artists in other venues.
Trains leave from Fenchurch Street Station. The back entrance to the station is not far from Tower Hill underground - follow the signs. This map shows other connections.
The 10:40 to Shoeburyness is suggested, arriving Benfleet at 11:22. There are 4 trains an hour - The xx:10 and xx:40 are faster.
Trains back from Leigh-on-Sea are at xx:21 xx:28 and xx:51. The LAST TRAIN is at 22:51 getting to Fenchurch St at 23:42.
Get a return to Leigh-on-Sea (not to be confused with Leigh (Kent) or Lee).
Directions: Get your directions here. And have a map as well. Most of the walk is though Hadleigh Castle Country Park. Along the way you have the option to turn left in the direction of the castle ruins - a good place for a picnic. There are food outlets in Leigh but things can get busy. Note the railway station on your way in. This is where the walk stops and the fun starts. It’s also where you will be leaving from.
7 cloudy and sunny then rainy then sunny
An OK start but spirits were dampened after the castle by a belt of light rain that persisted for about an hour. Then Mr Sun came out again and stayed for the day. High grass pollen in the nature reserve. Highlights of the day were Wild Willy Barrett, Stick in the Wheel and Trembling Bells. Minor punk, Tenpole Tudor also put in an appearance. The morris dancers were safely corralled in a car park and didn’t cause too much trouble.