Benfleet to Leigh on Sea / Benfleet Circular
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
(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.