A family cycling break in Essex
Crumbling castles and mouthwatering seafood...
Take inspiration from the Games and head to Essex for a family cycling break. It’s an area of surprising tranquillity and charm set amidst castles and saltwater creeks to discover. It’s just over half an hour from the centre of London too.
Start your day with a gentle stroll through Hadleigh Country Park , which hosted the Games’ mountain bike events. Teeming with wildlife, the 387 acres are a serene blend of hay meadows, marshland, pastures and woodland all bordered with fuzzy old hedgerows. Following one of the many winding paths will take you up to the 700-year-old Hadleigh Castle . The dramatic ruins command spectacular views across the Thames Estuary and the spot makes a perfect place for a mid-morning picnic.
Wander on to Hadleigh Farm Rare Breeds Centre where Dylan the donkey, Cookie the Exmoor pony and Rambo the woolly pig wait to greet you. The centre promotes conservation and education in rare breeds and has a variety of kid-friendly activities including a Willow Maze, pedal tractors and a wooden milking cow!
As the sun begins to set, make your way to Leigh-on-Sea where the adorable cobbled streets will make you think you’re in a period drama. There’s a local fisherman’s co-operative which sells the bounties of the deep fresh from the boat and enough quaint old-world seaside appeal to choke a whale. Dine out on some of the finest seafood in all of south-east England at The Boatyard .
Top tip: No trip to Leigh-on-Sea’s Old Town is complete without a visit to the famed "Cockle Sheds" and their bewildering and mouth-watering array of freshly prepared seafood.
Drawing your inspiration from the Games, get on your bike and explore the classic English sea-side town of Southend-on-Sea on the Pedal Power Trail . You’ll discover a place full of kitsch retro charm and enough to keep your whole family entertained all day long. With seven miles of seafront to explore you’ll have a lot more than sea views to take in as you cycle through a bustling seaside town that draws 5 million visitors a year.
Now it’s back to a leisurely walking pace as you stroll along Southend’s famous pier. And there’s a lot of strolling to be done with the longest pier in the world stretching almost a mile and a half out into the Thames Estuary. Southend Pier has a whole host of seaside amusements as well as a range of events throughout the year. Visit an active RNLI station and take in glorious 360-degree views from the sun deck or pop in to the Pier Museum.
Top tip: If you’re too tired after all that cycling to walk to the end of the pier, hop on the pier’s very own train to Pier Head.
With a jam-packed itinerary of events you could catch a touring West End stage show like Grease or Starlight Express or enjoy a traditional family-friendly pantomime at Southend Cliffs Pavilion . Fill up at the Pavilion restaurant before sitting back on the red cushion seats and enjoying the show.
More about... Essex
Essex - the official tourist information website.
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OLD LEIGH REGATTA
Entertainment, side shows, craft stalls, water events and a cockle-eating competition!Old Leigh Regatta