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This Week's Walks - Archive

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This is an archive of walks done by the Saturday Walker's Club. You should only need to use this page if the SWC website is down.

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Saturday, 6 February 2016

Saturday Second Walk [New Walk] "...this mudflat rescued from the sea by Dutch engineers..."

SWC Walk 258 – Benfleet Circular (via Canvey Island)

Length: 23.2 km (14.5 mi) [shortcut possible, see below]
Ascent/Descent:  40 m; Net Walking Time: ca. 4 ¾ hours
Toughness:  3 out of 10 

Varied walk around a unique island in the Thames Estuary: mudflats, creeks, river traffic, sandy beaches, seawall murals, grassy marshland and oil terminals & refineries

Take the 09.47 Shoeburyness train from  Fenchurch Street (5 mins walk from Tower Hill or Aldgate tubes, 10 mins from Bank or L'pool Street), arriving Benfleet at 10.31
On route the train calls: Limehouse at 09.51 (DLR), West Ham at 09.56 (DLR, Jubilee, H’smith & City and District Lines), Barking at 10.02  (Overground, H’smith & City and District Lines) and Upminster at 10.11 (District Line).
(Fast) Return trains: XX.00, XX.15, XX.30 and XX.45 hours (46 or 49 minutes journey time)

First posting of this new walk, we will take the opportunity to check the walk directions.
To quote the summary of the write-up:
“A flat walk, that starts and finishes with a busy road stretch, features a fair amount of hard surface paths and some A-road noise near the end, and passes – in succession – a golf course, a static caravan park, an ex-landfill site, housing estates, another caravan park, a sewage plant, an LNG terminal, an oil product terminal, an oil refinery, the site of a never-finished oil refinery, another oil terminal and another – larger – landfill site??????
And yet, and yet…
This is one not just for the Industrial Romantic, or for fans of the Pub Rock legends Dr. Feelgood, or for students of the lives of the ex-East End White Working Classes.
Without navigational challenges (as all you do is: walk to the seawall and follow it) you experience an ever-changing scenery of tidal creeks and mud flats, river marshes, salt marshes, flood barriers, sluices and sandbanks, get views of the Benfleet Downs, of Hadleigh Castle & Country Park, the Essex cliffs, Southend with its Pier, the North Sea and the busy river traffic, of ships big and small, boatyards, yacht clubs and marinas, pass sandy beaches and enclosed pools on the foreshore, jetties, extensive seawall murals telling Canvey Island stories and – post lunch – long tranquil stretches past grassy marshes with abundant birdlife. “
The recommended lunch options are the iconic Labworth Beach Bistro in its modernist building with panoramic views of the Thames Estuary (9.7 km/6.0 mi), or the legendary smugglers’ inn the Lobster Smack (13.2 km/8.2 mi).Tea options are aplenty just a few hundred meters beyond the train station.
A walk like no other?  Most certainly.

For walk directions, map, height profile, gpx/kml files and plenty of photos click here.
The directions include details of a shortcut to a bus stop, straight from the late lunch stop, it results in a 14.6 km/9.1 mi walk (rated 1/10).



Anonymous said...

A native of Benfleet writes: the recommended pub option us the Hoy & Helmet, a 16th century coaching inn but redecorated more recently, just up the hill from Benfleet station

DAC said...

Intend going.

Anonymous said...

Is this likely to be muddy? Or is it paved most of the way?

Thomas G said...

Don't like the mud? The Only Way Is Essex! It's paved for 5.6 km, the rest is on top of seawalls, i.e.: firm and grassy (if they weren't firm, they wouldn't be fit for purpose). Leave the gaiters at home...

Karen said...

n=14 w=overcast-dry-blustery

14 off the train at Benfleet. It was overcast and windy, but the rain held off all day. When not concentrating on avoiding being blown into the sea, lots of interesting features to comment on and discuss, be they natural features like mud flats, tidal creeks and marshes, or the manmade relics of the recent past.

At least 9 people lunched at the Lobster Smack (really lovely), with the picnickers joining for drinks hot and cold in order to enjoy the good company of their fellow walkers (or maybe just to escape the wind). Everyone set off together after lunch and we soon left behind the paved paths and completed the walk on the earthen sea walls. Nice underfoot, and, as promised, virtually mudfree.

11 completed the full walk, with the rest taking the shortcut/bus. Back in Benfleet, 6 tried out the Hoy and Helmet as recommended by a former resident of Benfleet. 6 became 4 and made their way to the Anchor Inn. The last 3 standing returned to the Hoy and Helmet for reasonably-priced, adequate food served by friendly staff, before catching the 20:45 back to London.

A nice long but not arduous walk that is quick to get to from London, yet feels a world away. Less than £8 from Central London with a Network Railcard. Friendly staff in the eateries and drinking holes. 'Reem', as the locals might say.

Anonymous said...

apparently wind speeds were up to 50mph by the end of the day so we did well not to be blown away completely!

Anonymous said...

Thanks to Thomas for devising this bleakly beautiful addition to the SWC programme, and for the typically comprehensive walk guide.