We are holding our annual joint walk with the London Blind Ramblers on Sunday, 2 April 2017 starting at 10:45. This walk is an 8 mile circular route from Benfleet station.
Please let Julie know by Monday 26 March 2017 (put London Blind Ramblers in the subject box) if you can come along as each blind rambler needs an escort.
Travel: Take the 09:53 from Liverpool Street (Stratford Platform 10 at 10:00, Barking at 10:09) arrives Benfleet at 10:39. Return trains from Benfleet: 17/47 minutes past the hour trains terminate at Fenchurch Street and call at Upminster, Barking, West Ham and Limehouse en route. 01/31 minutes past the hour trains terminate at Liverpool Street and call at Upminster, Barking and Stratford en route. Currently there are no engineering works.
Bound for old Leigh Town, we initially turn left out of the station under the railway bridge and on the pavement up a steep hill to the start of Benfleet Downs. From there we head up a gently undulating signposted gravel track with Hadleigh Castle up on the left hand side and we walk for about 4 miles to Old Leigh, a picturesque, historical place: there are fishing boats, craft shops, pubs, houses, wharves, marine industries and cockle sheets which stretch along the shoreline. Should you wish to eat your packed lunch there are also benches, though a packed lunch is not necessary due to the wide variety of eateries and fresh fish!
After lunch, we head by the sea wall onto a bridge which leads to the 645 hectare Two Tree Island. The eastern section of Two Tree Island is part of Leigh National Nature Reserve, along with the adjoining saltmarsh and a large area of intertidal mudflats. The saltmarsh, along the southern shore of the island, is one of the best surviving in the Thames Estuary.
There will be many birds to hear as early April will be nesting season, so in the Western section we could hear, around the lagoons, redshanks, herons feeding. Recently avocets have started to nest here also. Little egrets, water voles, kingfisher, water rail, reed and sedge warblers may be seen in the lagoons and reed beds, while adder, slow worm and common lizard frequent the grassland. Insects of note include the marbled white butterfly, roesel's bush-cricket, the house cricket and the lesser marsh grasshopper.
We return to Benfleet station via the sea wall where you may hear the wind rushing through the masts of the sailboats as we approach the station
Terrain: varied: gravel track, pavement, grass.
Dropout points: Leigh-on-Sea (there is a station here)
Start point: Benfleet Station Length: 8 miles
Finish point: Benfleet Station Grade: Moderate