With its cosy seaside pubs, cobbled streets and authentic cockle sheds, Leigh-on-Sea makes the perfect day out in Essex.
Like its sister park in Stratford, Hadleigh Park was part of the now iconic 2012 London Olympic Games. Hadleigh Park has a great legacy for fresh air and fun-filled days, so no matter what age or fitness level you’re at; it’s never a dull day out.
Hadleigh Park is actually a lot more interesting and rich in history than you might think for just an open area between two small Essex towns. It became a very important strategic region during World War II, as its vast 387 acres of green and hills were made use of by stationed soldiers. Its position so close to the Thames also acted as a gateway for London’s outbound and inbound troops.
Even prior to that, Hadleigh Park’s Farm was a staple location to William Booth’s The Salvation Army. The famous Methodist began his vision of building a somewhat utopia for the lower and poorer classes in Hadleigh in 1891. In just 9 months Hadleigh Farm went from less than 50 volunteers to over 250 strong.
To this day Hadleigh Park is a fantastic heritage site which offers generations old and new a fun adventurous exploration. And for history buffs there’s a walking route around nearby Hadleigh Castle with views over the estuary.
Hadleigh Park offers a wide range of activities throughout the year which can be enjoyed by one and all of many ages. These include kayaking, cycling, sailing, archery and much more! There is also a homely café where can sit and sip on your drink with one heck of a view.
The other great thing about such an open countryside is the nature and wildlife that comes with it. Hadleigh Park is renowned for its meadows and marshes, ponds and pastures. It is an ideal place to go walking and watching the wildlife, with magnificent floral colours to be seen during the spring and summer months.
Hadleigh Park is uniquely tailored to cycling and mountain biking, with nearly 400 acres of scenic countryside to pedal through. There are bike trails for seasoned skilled riders to biking beginners, as well as an Academy with expert tutors to teach anyone from 3 years old and up to ride. The bike trails were created for the 2012 London Olympic Games, before being adapted for use by the public.
Don’t have your own bike? Not to worry, you can hire mountain bikes (MTB) to cycle in Hadleigh Park here.
Essex Glamping provides glamping and camping experiences at their site in Hadleigh Park. You can book these experiences through their website.
The lake in Hadleigh Park is suitable for swimming. There are qualified lifeguards from the Hadleigh Plungers open water swimming group, ideal for those trying open water swimming for the first time. You can get in touch with Hadleigh Park to check whether water sports are available.
Hadleigh Park is fairly easy to get to by train. Located in between both Benfleet and Leigh-on-Sea stations, the park is easily walkable from them both. The walks can take up to 40 minutes, but they are extremely scenic and enjoyable (weather permitting!). Or you can take your bike on the train if you’re off to cycle the trails. If you’re travelling from London, the journey time is approximately between 42 and 48 minutes. There are approximately 4-6 trains per hour on a weekday, depending on peak or off-peak travel time and train tickets bought online travelling from London more than three days in advance are £11.40.
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.
There are plenty of things to enjoy in and around Hadleigh Park, from the town of Old Leigh to scenic cycles along the seafront.