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This Week's Walks - Archive

Please see the Saturday Walker's Club This Week's Walks page.

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.

Blog Archive

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Sunday Walk - Benfleet Circular (via Canvey Island) [Swimming Walk]

Length: 23.2 km (14.5 mi) [much shorter walk possible, see below]
Ascent/Descent: 40m; Net Walking Time: 4 ¾ hours
Toughness:  3/10                       
Take the 09.55 Shoeburyness train from Fenchurch Street (09.59 Limehouse, 10.05 West Ham, 10.10 Barking, 10.19 Upminster), arrives Benfleet 10.39.
Return trains are on xx.01 and xx.31.

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.
A walk like no other?  Most certainly.

Shorter Walk:  Canvey Island is linked to Benfleet station by many regular buses, enabling you to start or finish the walk at almost any point along the way (in the first half of the walk), as bus stops are often just a short distance from the walk route.  For a route map of the bus network you should check here:  (under ‘Additional Information’).
The most logical shortcut to  a bus stop, right after the late lunch stop, is described in the directions. It results in a 14.6 km/9.1 mi  walk (rated 1/10).

Lunch: The Labworth Restaurant and Beach Bistro (9.7 km/6.0 mi), in its modernist building with panoramic views of the Thames estuary; The Lobster Smack (13.2 km/8.2 mi, food all day), recently refurbished, this is the oldest surviving building on Canvey and a classic pub which has so much history it even features in the Dickens novel ‘Great Expectations’. 
Tea: Three pubs and two Sub-continental restaurants on High Street, just past the station (see pdf for details).

For summary, map, height profile, photos, walk directions and gpx/kml files click here.

1 comment:

Thomas G said...

n=7 in w=largely-sunny weather. The walk started with the tide in, so no mudflats in the morning. On the initial 'inland' leg, away from the Thames, there was hardly any breeze, so it felt quite muggy at times. A good pace was had, the scenery enjoyed and the many murals on the seawall on the Thames side much admired. A busy day for dogwalkers on Canvey, but not so busy for swimmers: no one was seen in the paddling pools or along the beaches. Are Essex folk not hard enough for these temps?
The Labworth Bistro was nearly full, and couldn't have accomodated us anyway, so we strode on to The Lobster Smack for lunch, past the first paraphernalia of the Oil & Gas Industry, with the odd container ship passing by on the left.
Lunch was passable, and certainly quick in delivery and therefore good value for money.
On past the low lying salt marshes, now at low tide, so with plenty of birds in the mudflats and then towards the end with the striking sight of large areas of Red Samphire around some of the ponds in the marshes (so we think anyway).
16.31 train back.