Yesterday, Tuesday, we had to go to Rayleigh, Essex and, as it was a sunny day, decided to include a little sightseeing and the obvious place to start was Rayleigh itself. The town was nothing special but it does have one of these:

 

 

A rather nice brick built tower mill with an interesting platform above the door which goes all the way round the outside. Unfortunately it doesn't work any more and the inside has been converted to a museum (not open when we were there). It's not very old either, having been built in the 1800s, making it no more than 200 years old.

 

Next to the windmill is what was once Rayleigh Castle. All that remains is the Motte and Bailey. The Motte is the large mound on which the keep would have been built, in this case during the 1100s, and would have been built using wood and so nothing now remains. It is surrounded by a defensive ditch and would originally have been enclosed by a wooden fence; the resultant enclosure being the Bailey.

 

There is a bit of a view to be had from the Motte but nothing terribly exciting.

 

 

After descending from the lofty heights of Rayleigh Castle we found our way to Dutch Cottage. The name stems from the 17th century Dutch immigrants who constructed many of the sea walls along the south Essex coast. The interesting thing is that above the door a date of 1621 is inscribed in the wooden frame. However 'experts' who have studied the building are convinced that it was built in the 1700s so take your pick.

 

 

Because it's so small it's hard to believe that someone lives there but they do.

 

That was about the limit of interest in Rayleigh so we travelled about five miles south to Hadleigh. This is Hadleigh in Essex and not to be confused with Hadleigh in Suffolk. It lies on the northern edge of the Thames and, like Rayleigh, doesn't boast much of interest but it does have some Norman castle ruins.

 

We parked in one of the suburban streets and planned to walk to the castle from there. This is how it looked from the start of the walk. You can just see a tower on the horizon near the centre of the picture.

 

 

It was quite a pleasant walk across the fields and, after climbing over a stile, we found ourselves sharing a field with cows. We started off across the field and then noticed a very large, very muscular cow with a funny looking udder and realised that we were looking at a bull. A farmer wouldn't put a bull in a field with a public footpath running through it unless he was sure that the bull wouldn't cause problems and we had also heard that bulls kept on their own, i.e. without cows, are the stroppy ones. That was the theory so we decided to 'take the bull by the horns', not literally you understand, and continue on our way. We passed within about twenty feet of the bull and he was really more interested in grazing than he was in us.

 

A little further along the path and I took this photograph of mother and daughter.

 

 

As we had been climbing on this last section of path we were begining to get some good views even though it was rather hazy.

 

As we approached the castle ruins we began to see the overall structure and the remains of the tower on the right really was leaning that much.

 

 

Looking back from this point we could see Leigh-on-Sea, where we had parked, and the River Thames albeit a rather hazy view. All those little white marks below the horizon are small boats left high and dry because the tide is out.

 

 

All we have to do later is walk all that way back to the car but for now – back to the castle.

 

The castle was built in the 1300s and this shows the best remaining tower with part of its internal structure visible. It is certainly a good vantage point for a defensive structure.

 

 

This picture shows that heavily leaning tower about to squash Amanda who seems quite unperturbed by that possibility.

 

 

This was the end of our sightseeing for the day and we'll leave you with this final picture where Amanda, the little figure on the left, had decided that sitting below the leaning tower wasn't such a good idea after all or was she just curious about what I was getting up to?

 

 

Oh, and yes, we did have to walk past that bull again but lived to tell the tale.