Main circular walk 15.2km (9.8m) (or a bit longer if you explore Leigh on Sea)
Short walk to Leigh 8.9km (5.6m)
Main circular walk with optional circuit of Two Tree Island 18.6km (11.6m)
|Toughness||Main circular walk 4/10; 244m ascent and descent. All the hills are before lunch; it is flat on the return leg to Benfleet. Short walk ending in Leigh 2/10 Main circular walk with circuit of Two Tree island – 4/10|
|Map||OS Landranger 1:50,000 – Map 178,Thames Estuary OS Explorer 1:25,000 - Map 175, Southend on Sea and Basildon|
This Essex excursion is a companion walk to the short 5.6km (3.5m) Benfleet to Leigh on Sea amble along the Benfleet Creek shoreline which was devised to coincide with the Leigh on Sea folk festival and which usually takes place at the end of June. You can find more information about this walk here. Another related walk is SWC Walk 258; a Canvey Island circular starting and finishing at Benfleet Station.
This is a flat walk of 23.2km (14.5m) essentially following the sea –wall around the island in an environment of tidal flats, marshes and sandbanks. This day walk covers completely different territory: the higher ground north of the estuary and Canvey Island, and is a walk of contrasts. In the morning you go along narrow, grassy paths through the dense, hilly woodland of Benfleet Downs and Hadleigh Country Park. You visit the ruined Hadleigh Castle which is an excellent picnic spot and has superb views; on a clear day you can see all the way across Canvey Island to the Hoo Peninsula and the North Downs in Kent. You have lunch at Leigh on Sea; a town rapidly gentrifying with boutiques and up-market restaurants.
After lunch in Leigh on Sea you walk back to Benfleet along a wide track adjacent to Benfleet Creek with fine views of the flat open estuary waterscape and the hilly woods away to your right which you walked in the morning. You can also incorporate a circular walk of Two tree island which has fine bird-watching opportunities.
The undulating hills of Hadleigh Country Park were the venue for the mountain bike events in the 2012 London Olympics and there are a large network of bike trails of varying severity criss-crossing the area. This walk however uses “walkers only” paths and routes with just short and unavoidable stretches on bike trails.
This walk is best done from May to October. In winter, stretches of the narrow woodland paths are likely to be very muddy with some short sections quite tricky to navigate.
After the walk, we would love to get your feedback
Out (not a train station)
Back (not a train station)
National Rail: 03457 48 49 50 • Travelline SE (bus times): 0871 200 2233 (12p/min) • TFL (London) : 0343 222 1234
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Full directions for this walk are in a PDF file (link above) which you can print, or download on to a Kindle, tablet, or smartphone.
This is just the introduction. This walk's detailed directions are in a PDF available from wwww.walkingclub.org.uk