17th August 2014: Leigh-on-Sea circular via Hadleigh Castle

Jean led a group of seven on this varied walk with views of the Thames Estuary. From Leigh the walk sloped up to Hadleigh Castle, a ruin originally built in 1215 but extensively fortified by Edward III against a feared French invasion. Close by there was the opportunity for a morning tea stop at the Salvation Army cafe, run as part of a training centre for people with difficulties gaining employment. This training colony was set up by William Booth 122 years ago and incorporates a rare-breeds farm. The walk continued through field paths to enter Hadleigh Country Park where there is a reconstruction of an iron-age roundhouse. After lunch sheltering from a bit of rain, the path led downhill, crossing the railway line and turning back towards Leigh alongside Benfleet Creek, with views of the estuary and its birdlife. Arriving back at the fishing village of Old Leigh, famous for cockle fishing, tea and cakes were enjoyed at one of its pleasant cafes.

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