The challenging, hilly course, which will host the London 2012 Mountain Bike events on 11th and 12th August, has largely been constructed around grassland and woodland within the 800-acre Hadleigh Farm.
The Essex farm will host the fifth edition of mountain biking at the Olympics as the sport was first introduced at the 1996 Games in Atlanta. The farm is run by The Salvation Army for educational purposes and includes a centre for rare breed animals. The site overlooks the Thames Estuary and is a short walk away from the ruins of the 700 year-old Hadleigh Castle.
The course also takes in the neighbouring 390-acre Hadleigh Country Park, one of the largest parks in Essex, which is managed by the county council. It has yet to be decided what will happen to the course when the temporary seating structures are taken down after the Games, but the council is keen to have facilities adapted for public use.
The circuit is 5km is length and will provide stiff challenges for the Olympic competitors, across rough terrain on open hillside. The track was constructed over a nine-month period commencing in the summer of 2010 with 500 tonnes of rock used in the building process. Indeed competitors will do battle across a physically and technically demanding course over some fantastic gradients which have been designed to the most demanding levels.
The racing will see riders in one-off races completing several laps around the circuit taking in special features such as Snake Hill, The Rock Garden and Deane’s Drop. It will provide dramatic viewing for television audiences and those spectators who attend in person, with the open nature of the track providing great panoramic views of the action.
Public facilities: As a Salvation Army property Hadleigh Farm is a well equipped venue with some interesting alternative facilities and services for visitors to enjoy such as guided walks, a rare breed centre, tea rooms, a farm shop and the Hadleigh Training Centre.
History: Having developed over the last 120 years under the Salvation Army's care, Hadleigh is today a commercial farm, a place of natural beauty and home to an English Heritage site. As well as being the host venue for the London 2012 Mountain Bike course, Hadleigh Farm includes the historic 14th century Hadleigh Castle and the Hadleigh Training Centre which opened in 1990.
What’s on?: Mountain biking (August 11-12).
How do you get there?: National Rail or road are the best ways to reach the facility. The closest railway station to Hadleigh Farm is Leigh-on-Sea, which is around 45 minutes from London's Fenchurch Street station. You are then faced either with a 30-minute uphill walk on rough farm tracks to get to the venue or a shuttle-bus journey. If you wish to drive to Hadleigh Farm, it is about 35 miles east of London and can be reached via the A13. You then follow the signs for Hadleigh Castle and the park-and-ride service.
Find it on a map: here.
Location – in relation to other venues: Located in the heart of Essex close to Leigh on Sea, Hadleigh Farm is a fairly short distance from London. The venue is just over 30 miles from the Olympic Park site at Stratford in East London.