Cycling in the Park
Hadleigh Country Park is situated between South Benfleet and Leigh on Sea in Essex, adjacent to the A13 London to Southend road. It is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and is a mixture of woodlands, heathland and grassland habitats. There are views from the park across the Thames estuary and the picturesque Hadleigh Castle can be seen easily from the trails.
At 387 acres in size, Hadleigh Country Park is a sizeable area to go mountain biking in. The 2012 London Olympic Games mountain biking competitions were held here, and the course was subsequently adapted and extended so that it could be used by the general public. The course is still used for events such as the British National Mountain Bike championships.
The Park is open to walkers as well as cyclists, so care must be taken when riding, as people (or their dogs) may be on the bike trails. There is also a herd of Red Poll cattle which are used for conservation grazing around the park. It’s not unheard of for them to be on one of the trails and it’s probably quicker to go around them rather than wait for them to move! It’s not unusual to see a variety of wildlife as you travel around the trails, this could include rabbits and hares, stoats, grass snakes and adders. Please take care not to harm anything you might come across.
The trails are designed for one-way traffic to avoid the likelihood of collision with other cyclists. Please ensure you use the trails correctly and not go onto a trail through a “no entry” sign. There are also places to cycle outside of the park and we are always happy to advise on safe routes for you.
Before you ride, you might like to take advantage of the Skills Area which has been designed to develop and practice your bike-handling skills and improve your riding techniques. The Skills Area is suitable for all riders and it incorporates a Teaching Area which contains eight features to try: Rock Steps, Berms, Tabletops, Drop-offs, Rock Causeway, Technical Climb, Rock Garden and Rock Rolls.
There is also the pump track which adults and children alike enjoy using. It has rolling features and berms to test your ability to ‘pump’ speed from the trail. Older children enjoy the challenge of completing the track without pedalling but it is also useful for younger children starting out riding, as it can be of great advantage helping them to improve their balancing skills.
This is approximately 8 km long and is suitable for beginners, families, young and leisure riders. It begins with a fun descent through woodlands and extends out towards South Benfleet, before turning eastwards until the base of Hadleigh Castle is reached. After a substantial climb up, the rider is brought back to the starting point.
This is a short path, just less than 1.5 km and has no steep descents or ascents. It is suitable for families with young children and for riders who are less able or have physical disabilities. There are good views from several parts of this trail.
This is non-technical trail but has steep ascents and descents with some tight winding berms. It is surfaced with crushed sandstone. You need to be a reasonably confident rider for this trail. It is around 4 km in length.
This is for more experienced mountain bike riders; it is a challenging course with six black features (it is possible to go around each feature). These features are very difficult and it is important that only very experienced and competent mountain bikers try them. Accidents do happen in the Park! The Red trail is around 5 km long and shares part of the blue trail. It is mostly is surfaced with crushed sandstone. It has nearly 1.7km of climb and some very sharp descents and climbs.
The following descriptions of the features are taken from http://hadleigh-park.co.uk/ride/track/:
The Black features, in order of appearance are:
The most technical line at Triple Trouble takes the line on the rider’s right. Firstly riders need to negotiate two low rock step-ups that will prove tricky to ride at speed. Once the rider has negotiated these, they arrive at the drop itself – an almost 1m vertical drop, landing onto a long, steep sloping rock slab, before rolling back onto the trail. Riders will have to master the entry to the section in order to hit the drop at just the right speed.
The right-hand line at this section takes riders down a long steep rocky technical channel, lined with walls of boulders, and 2 drop offs and some tight technical turns. Riders will need to be skilled in handling their bikes through tight, steep, rocky terrain in order to master Deanes Drop.
The North Shore Gap Jump
This short section takes in a section of elevated wooden boardwalk but with a twist. After negotiating the steep entry to the boardwalk, riders must jump across a gap in the boardwalk to land safely on the other side and continue with the lap. Riders will need excellent balance in the air and good timing to gain speed from the landing to carry into the following section.
Oak Tree Drop
Riders must opt-in to this short cut section under an ancient Oak Tree giving a rider valuable time savings. After hopping over 2 rock step ups, the rider must ready themselves for an extremely steep rocky roll down that feels almost vertical.
Leap of Faith
Upon entering this section riders have the choice to take the easy line to the left or opt-in to the difficult technical line on the right hand side. Riders will need to trust in their riding ability in order to ride off the steep tree root covered drop off, clear the gap to reach the steep downhill landing before a tight left hand berm to leave the section. Crucial seconds can be shaved off your lap times with this tricky technical section.
The last black feature to complete the Olympic course is an opt-in feature again to the right of the feature. It is a steep decent consisting of large flat rocks which once completed goes straight into a berm at the bottom and into the start/finish loop. Like all our previous features, care must be taken and ability judged accordingly to complete this tricky Final Descent.