Like its sister park in Stratford, Hadleigh Park was part of the now iconic 2012 London Olympic Games. And like the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, Hadleigh is a great legacy for fresh air and fun days out, no matter what age or fitness level.
Hadleigh was home to the Olympic Mountain Biking course and sits in 500 acres of country park, overlooking the Thames Estuary. There are plenty of biking routes - from beginner to advanced - as well as parklands for walking, a reservoir, plus a playground and large cafes. There’s sailing, geocaching, hiking, chilling - kite flying - bird spotting. And for history buffs there’s a walking route around the Castle, too. You’ll never be bored!
Hadleigh is easy to get to by train. Benfleet station is at the west end of - a 15 minute stroll and you’re into its deepest greenery. To the east, Leigh-on-Sea is the nearest station. If you are walking to the visitor centre, it’s around 40 minutes walk from each station - but it’s super-scenic.
The romantic ruins of a ‘proper’ royal castle, Hadleigh’s mighty defences were built around 1215 and became one of Edward III’s favourite residences during the Hundred Years War.
A combination of subsidence and 16th Century builders carting off the stone for construction elsewhere has, sadly, left the castle in ruins, but even what remains acts as a breath-taking link to a magical Medieval world.
The drum tower and barbican were used by Georgian revenue men on the lookout for smugglers but today, high on a hill, the towers of this once impenetrable fortress afford amazing views of the estuary below.
Address: Hadleigh Castle, Castle Lane, Benfleet, Essex SS7 2AP
Nearest station: Stunning 30 minute walk through the park from Leigh-on-Sea or 10 min taxi ride
What's on at Hadleigh this Month?
From sailing lessons, to swimming sessions, coached trail rides, to community events, there’s always something to entertain at the park. The Park has a great guide to events happening each month.