Thundersley on Foot, is a booklet of nine walks of discovery around Thundersley in Essex. It inspired an intrepid group of local walkers to get together to experience these walks and beyond. Normally starting (and finishing for light refreshments) at the White Hart in Thundersley. Some of their experiences can be seen below. All nine walks in the booklet will be published on Healthy Life Essex soon – please visit our Thundersley on Foot page for more information.
More detailed information on forthcoming walks in and around Thundersley will be available on this website soon, please watch this space. We are also always interested in any suggestions for new local walks – please let us know.
Perhaps because it was the end of half term or perhaps the Andy Murray tennis final on the tele kept people at home, but just seven of us set forth on a Thundersley on Foot ‘Four Seasons’ walk on Sunday 5th June.
Starting, as usual, at 2 pm from the White Hart, we set off across Coombe Wood whose fresh green growth looked stunning in the dappled sunshine. We risked life and limb crossing Bread and Cheese Hill but were rewarded with the calm and beauty of the wooded area up Catherine Road and through to the Glen.
We were pretty surprised when we met up with a man in full running gear who was holding a weighted bar and trailing behind him a chain with weights. We were pretty surprised when we met up with a man in full running gear who was holding a weighted bar and trailing behind him a chain with weights.
He told us he was training for a wheelchair pushing marathon. An interesting man called David Kates who lives in a house in the woods and has a website showing his world records.
We’ll be having our next walk in the Autumn, so if you’d like to be informed of the date please get in touch. You will be very welcome and, who knows, you might be surprised at just how green and beautiful our corner of S E Essex is.
Around 20 ‘Four Seasons’ walkers set off from Benfleet Station on June 14th intent on exploring part of the new Thames Estuary Path. We have completed all of the walks in the book – some more than once – so felt it was time to move further afield. Our group was joined by two new walkers (welcome to Kathy and Mel), two guests from Australia and our friendly dog Milly (who had a great time!)
Setting off from Benfleet Station we easily found the signpost to the brand new walking route which promises to go all the way to Tilbury via Watt Tyler Country and the beautiful Essex marshes. It seemed that the path hasn’t yet been widely used because it was a bit overgrown and at one stage we nearly got lost in a rape seed forest!
As we approached the thundering traffic along Canvey Way we came to a halt because the promised route was not apparent. A beautifully crafted map of the area showed an alternative round route back to Benfleet so, after consulting with some local children and their mum, we gave up on finding our intended destination and headed back to Benfleet. (By the way we were pleased to hear from said ‘mum’ that they have bought the large single-storey building in pleasant open ground alongside the Benfleet-Pitsea railway line and are working to turn it into a youth club).
Although we didn’t end up where we intended everyone had an enjoyable afternoon, the weather was perfect, the company was congenial and we discovered some unknown parts of our local neighbourhood. What not to like?
The winter months are sure to test the best intentions of the keenest of walkers, but nine stalwart Thundersley folk tore themselves away from the warmth of home to step out into the winter sunshine. crossing the boundary from Castle Point into Rayleigh they braved the February weather for a gentle walk of a little under 2 hours into Great Wheatleys woods. The day turned out very sunny, although wet underfoot, as the intrepid walkers took off from the White Hart in Thundersley Village and across Thundersley Common.
After crossing the Rayleigh Weir roundabout and then up the hill they turned down Great Wheatleys, past some very impressive-looking houses and into the green open space. While enjoying the lovely view over the countryside to the west side of Rayleigh there was some discussion about the proposal to build houses on much of the area. An attractive, interesting, woodland with the green shoots of bluebells just peeking through, the Great Wheatleys woods were pretty water-logged so the group didn’t venture far but returned to Thundersley commenting that another time we could visit when it is drier and later in the year so we could enjoy the bluebells. It would have been truly beautiful if we had visited a hundred years ago! Thanks to Pam Sharod for suggesting and leading the walk.
The Four Seasons Walking Group, Sunday 7th December 2014 8 stalwart walkers braved the elements yesterday and enjoyed an invigorating jaunt along Southend Pier and back. The early gloom and rain had disappeared by afternoon and although the wind was chilly the sun shone from a clear blue sky.
The Four Seasons Walking Group, August 3rd 2014
Most of the Thundersley on Foot ‘Four Seasons’ walking group agreed that the walk on 3rd of August was probably one of the group’s best yet.
The sun shone so it was good that the walk was largely under trees whose cooling shade made walking very pleasant. Sixteen walkers set off from the usual starting point at the White Hart with Chris and Jan leading the way following walk No 5 down Great Burches Road and through what was once farmland but is now largely taken over by horse grazing (see May 2011 below for map).
As the group began to hear the road noise from the A130 they took a short footpath into the back of Woodside Recreation Field where they were met by the happy sight of folk of all ages enjoying Sunday afternoon in the sun. After a circular route round North Benfleet Hall Woods they came across the highlight of the afternoon, one of Thundersley’s best kept secrets, the fishing lake off Windermere Road. The water lilies were in full bloom but the beauty of the scene was a little spoilt by the amount of litter which had been left, presumably, by picnickers.
May 6th 2014 – Fame at last for the Four Seasons Walking Group!
Clare Balding accompanied the group on a walk on May 6th as part of the BBC Radio 4 programme ‘Ramblings’ which was broadcast on May 22nd 2014. It is available on the BBC Radio 4 website for download.
Excitement mounted as the TV & Radio celebrity – who has become a household ‘face’ since her coverage of the Olympics – met up with the group at The White Hart in Thundersley in readiness for Walk No 9 in our Thundersley on Foot walking book.
The walk took off as usual from the White Hart pub and then meandered from Thundersley ‘village’ through Thundersley Glen into Shipwrights Meadow and Woods and then on into Hadleigh Country Park. The estuary looked stunning in the sunshine and Clare and her producer/sound recordist admitted that they were very surprised at the beauty of the local countryside and the fact that you could be walking one minute in a built-up area and the next minute be transported to green and luscious countryside.
The walk ended in Leigh Old Town with just time for a glass of shandy and a plate of chips! You can listen to and/or download a copy of this episode of Ramblings here.
Sunday 12th January 2014 – Coombe Wood & Thundersley Grove
After all the rain we were concerned that we’d get bogged down in the mud so an intrepid nine walkers took to a ‘relatively’ dry path diagonally through Coombewood, across Bread and Cheese Hill, along Catherine Road and back up Mount Road and Thundersley Grove. The weather was fine and the little over an hour gentle stroll with its chat and exchange of news was a pleasant way to spend a winter afternoon. Pretty slippery mud coming up Mount Road though!
Sunday 8th September 2013 – Benfleet Creek from Benfleet station to Leigh Old Town
Having now completed all the walks in the Thundersley on Foot book, we strolled along Benfleet Creek from Benfleet station to Leigh Old Town for our latest walk on Sunday September 8th. Leaving the White Hart at 11 am we took the bus to Benfleet Station where seven of us set out in full sun but in the knowledge that the weathermen had promised heavy showers later in the day. A lovely walk and all agreed that there is something magical about the birds swooping and feeding in the estuary and the sun shining on the mud at low tide.
Just as we approached Leigh Station the heavens opened and we caught a quick heavy shower and a noticeable drop in the temperature. Not enough to spoil the day, but enough to wet our trousers through and send us off in search of some refreshment in the pub or a bus to take us home.
All agreed that the walk was lovely and that we are indeed lucky to live so close to the estuary, a lovely wide open space which lifts the spirits in our densely-populated part of S E Essex..
Sunday 12th May. 2013 – Walk 1
The Spring walk for our Group; known as ‘Four Seasons’ was on Sunday May 12th. 2013. meeting outside the White Hart Pub at 1.45 for a 2 pm. start. (Walk 1 in the book)
Our walk was very enjoyable and the weather was lovely. We repeated Walk 1 in order to avoid getting involved with deep muddy tracks but it gave us a chance to visit the litle Garden Centre at the end of the common and to admire some of the wonderful front gardens on the periphery of the Common.
Sunday 17th February. 2013 – Walk 7
The Winter walk for our Group; known as ‘Four Seasons’ was on Sunday February 17th. 2013. meeting outside the White Hart Pub at 1.45 for a 2 pm. start. (Walk 7 in the book)
We are usually a pretty hardy bunch but the promised cold, wind and rain meant we decided to postpone our walk on February 10th which was a good decision because it turned out to be a shocker of an afternoon. We had several apologies from folk suffering from the dreaded flu and we guess that our winter walk is always likely to be a little thin in numbers either because of illness or weather which just doesn’t invite us outdoors.
The small intrepid group of walkers who set out from the White Hart the following Sunday were rewarded with glorious sun as they wended their way through West Wood, Little Havens woods and back across Thundersley Common. The walk took longer than you might expect because (to say the least!) it was pretty wet. In fact much, especially West Wood, was waterlogged. Nevertheless we were able to marvel at the beauty of the countryside in winter, the wondrous shapes of leafless trees against the blue sky, the first tiny shoots of green bearing the good news that Spring is on the way.
See below (November 2011) for pictures of this walk.
Sunday November 11th. 2012 – Walk 6
The Autumn walk for our Group; known as ‘Four Seasons‘ was on Sunday November 11th. 2012. meeting outside the White Hart Pub at 1.45 for a 2 pm. start. (Walk 6 in the book)
Sunday was a glorious day for a walk and Thundersley Glen looked particularly stunning , full of vibrant colour . We took quite a leisurely pace and for once didn’t get lost … at least we arrived back to the White Hart safely within the allotted time.
See below (August 2011) for Summer pictures of this walk
Sunday August 26th. 2012 – Walk 8
The Summer walk for our Group; known as ‘Four Seasons’ was on Sunday August 26th. 2012. meeting outside the White Hart Pub at 1.45 for a 2 pm. start. (Walk 8 in the book)
The weather was set fair for our summer walk We were slightly diminished in number (13) since our last walk but, lacking nothing in energy and enthusiasm, 10 hardy walkers set off through West Wood and across Daws Heath, intending to follow Walk No 8 but instead following some interesting diversions which took in the partially-built new Church of St Michael’s on Daws Heath.
We did not take the option of going into Belfairs Nature Reserve but took a return route through Tile Wood, past Little Havens and close to the busy A127 – heard but never seen – and back across Thundersley Common. What a chatty and friendly gang of walkers we were .. new friends were made, new territory was explored and a good time was had by all!
Sunday 13th May – Walk 9
The Spring walk for our Group; known as ‘Four Seasons’ was on Sunday 13th May 2012. meeting outside the White Hart Pub at 11.00 a.m. (Walk 9 in the book)
This walk was somewhat longer (approx 7 miles) ending up at Hadleigh Castle. The terrain is described as ‘quite hilly and pretty demanding in places .. some steep slopes can become very muddy and slippery’ Miraculously the weather was very kind and we had glorious views of the countryside at its’ best.
The suggestion was to take a picnic lunch to enjoy once we reached our destination or to buy some refreshment at the adjacent Salvation Army cafe.
Numbers were down …. not sure if this was due to change of time …longer distance ..doubts about the weather or just busy people but the 13 who turned up were undaunted and I’m sure that they would agree that it was a splendid walk.
February 2012 – Walk 3
The Winter walk for our Group; known as ‘Four Seasons’ was on Sunday 19th February 2012. meeting outside the White Hart Pub at 2 p.m. (Walk 3 in the book)
The weather was kind to us on this short but very enjoyable (under 2 mile) walk and although the White Hart was unable to supply food on this ocasion we were able to sit out in the garden in the sunshine and enjoy a well deserved drink afterwards.
November 2011- Walk 7
The Autumn walk for our Group; known as ‘Four Seasons’ was on Sunday November 20th. meeting outside the White Hart Pub at 2 p.m. (Walk 7 in the book)
This enjoyable Autumn walk included West Wood, Little Haven Nature Reserve & Thundersley Common. It was just over 4 miles and we walked for about 2 hours. The Autumn sunshine gave us a lovely day with stunning colours from the dappled rays of the sun through the trees and leaves.
Finally most of the group enjoyed a Sunday ‘Lunch’ and a drink at the White Hart Pub bringing a pleasant afternoon to an enjoyable close.
August 2011- Walk 6
The Summer 2011 walk for our Group; known as ‘Four Seasons’ was on Sunday August 14th. meeting outside the White Hart Pub at 2 p.m. (Walk 6 in the book)
This most enjoyable walk including Thundersley Glen and Coombe Wood, was just under 3 miles and rather hilly in places. we walked for about 2 hours thus allowing time to enjoy the views and stopping for a rest.
Finally most of the group enjoyed a Sunday ‘Lunch’ and a drink at the White Hart Pub bringing a pleasant afternoon to an enjoyable close.
May 2011- Walk 5
Around 20 Thundersley on Foot walkers donned their boots and took to the footpaths again on Sunday 22nd May, 2011.
Taking off, as usual, from the car park at the White Hart Pub in Hart Road they did Walk 5 which took them down Great Burches Road, across Little Common and through the ‘plotlands’ into Woodside Recreation field and North Benfleet woods. The return route went past the fishing lake, which most people – even those who had spent most of their lives in Thundersley – didn’t know existed!
We tried to be quiet so as not to disturb the fishermen who had found this glorious oasis to sit relax. Then it was back up through Windermere Road, Grandview Road, Raymonds Drive and Park Road to the White Hart where a well deserved drink was enjoyed by all. Many stayed on for dinner and everyone agreed it was a fun afternoon out. Its been agreed that the group will do a walk each season so the next one is planned for high Summer – Sunday August 14th
Thundersley On Foot’ was launched in style on Sunday Nov 7th 2010 when more than 20 locals and other friends gathered at the White Hart.
Walk No 1 in the book took them across Thundersley Common and back down the lovely Goldfinch Lane – ignoring the traffic noise of the A127 which tried to creep into our heads for a few minutes half way round the walk!
Seasoned walkers claimed it was more of a stroll than a walk – true really because it was less than 2 miles – but what it lacked in length it more than made up for in beauty (Autumnal colours all the way) and fun. Back at the pub we had a couple of jolly hours tucking into lunch and the odd drink – a good time was had by all!.
Its hoped to start a small walking group in the New Year to step out a bit further and try out the other 8 walks in the book. Get in touch with Eileen (01268 752264) if you are interested in joining in with that. The book, priced at £3.50, is available in Thundersley village from The White Hart, Dan’s Supermarket and Village Cards. The book is also available from the Book Inn, Broadway West, Leigh-on-Sea.