Information on Hadleigh and Hadleigh Castle Essex
Situated near the seaside town of Southend-on –Sea, in the county of Essex, Hadleigh Country Park overlooks the Thames Estuary and offers unparalleled opportunities for outdoor recreation and wildlife watching. It also affords commanding views over the estuary to Kent. Extending over an area of 387 acres, Hadleigh Country Park is one of the largest country parks in the Essex area and mixes woodland, marsh, and hay meadow habitats with pasture, old hedgerows and ponds. Designated as Site of Special Scientific Interest or SSSI the site is protected from all development, and work is on-going to preserve and maintain these precious habitats as well as making improvements to them wherever possible.
There are different ways to explore the park also; either on foot or by bike, or even on horseback. There are 3 way-marked trails from the Chapel Lane car park which walkers can follow, the main one of these leading to a viewpoint offering a scenic panorama stretching from the mouth of the River Thames all the way to Canary Wharf in London. Visitors can also enjoy a Sea Wall Walk which comprises a level 3 mile stroll from Benfleet to Leigh, affording impressive views over the downs and Benfleet Creek.
Regardless of the weather conditions there are always a number of things that one can do at the park. In the spring, there is always a resplendent floral display to wander around and admire, whilst summer offers a great opportunity to picnic in the meadows, which are in bloom with a multitude of colourful butterflies in view overhead. With the advent of autumn come the blackberries and sloes, whilst winter attracts a large number of birds to the estuary, in addition to the possibility for visitors to go sledging.
Furthermore, there is an Iron Age roundhouse which welcomes visitors to the main car park situated in Chapel Lane. Having recently been completed by the site staff themselves, and constructed from local timber, this now features as part of the park’s living history educational programme and as focal point for park events and activities.
Regarding this educational programme, the park also offers a variety of environmental education programmes which afford pupils the chance for some real hands-on experience; including such activities as pond dipping, den building, and orienteering and using a map. The park is also open to catering for other activities upon request.
Although often referred to as simply Hadleigh Country Park, it should be pointed out that the remains of Hadleigh Castle are close by to the park itself, and can be accessed easily via a short and level walk from the car park. Access is also available to both cyclists and horseriders via a bridleway and horseride situated off of St. Mary’s Road, which is located on the Benfleet side of the park. You can read some more information concerning the castle itself on our Hadleigh Castle page and more about the history of the castle on our Constable Hadleigh Castle page.