Benfleet Circular via Canvey Island walk

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

Concord Beach Paddling Pool on hot summer's day SWC Walk 258 Benfleet Circular (via Canvey Island)

Concord Beach Paddling Pool on hot summer's day

SWC Walk 258 Benfleet Circular (via Canvey Island)

09-Aug-16 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

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Channel in Creek at Low Tide, Canvey Island SWC Walk 258 Benfleet Circular (via Canvey Island)

Channel in Creek at Low Tide, Canvey Island

SWC Walk 258 Benfleet Circular (via Canvey Island)

29-Dec-15 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

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Southend-on-Sea from Canvey Point (II) SWC Walk 258 Benfleet Circular (via Canvey Island)

Southend-on-Sea from Canvey Point (II)

SWC Walk 258 Benfleet Circular (via Canvey Island)

29-Dec-15 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

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Dr. Feelgood mural, Concord Beach, Canvey Island SWC Walk 258 Benfleet Circular (via Canvey Island)

Dr. Feelgood mural, Concord Beach, Canvey Island

SWC Walk 258 Benfleet Circular (via Canvey Island)

29-Dec-15 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

walkicon swcwalks swcwalk258 23903187890

The Labworth Restaurant and Beach Bistro (viewed from the east), Canvey Island SWC Walk 258 Benfleet Circular (via Canvey Island)

The Labworth Restaurant and Beach Bistro (viewed from the east), Canvey Island

SWC Walk 258 Benfleet Circular (via Canvey Island)

29-Dec-15 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

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Coryton Refinery/Oil Terminal/Deepwater Seaport from East Haven Creek, Canvey Island SWC Walk 258 Benfleet Circular (via Canvey Island) Supplied by Kevin G.

Coryton Refinery/Oil Terminal/Deepwater Seaport from East Haven Creek, Canvey Island

SWC Walk 258 Benfleet Circular (via Canvey Island) Supplied by Kevin G.

15-Feb-16 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

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Benfleet Creek, outside Benfleet Station SWC Walk 258 Benfleet Circular (via Canvey Island)

Benfleet Creek, outside Benfleet Station

SWC Walk 258 Benfleet Circular (via Canvey Island)

29-Dec-15 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

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Length 23.2 km (14.5 mi), with 40m ascent/descent. For a shorter walk see below Walk Options.
Toughness 2 out of 10, with 4 hours 45 minutes walking time. For the whole outing, including trains, sights and meals, allow at least 7 ½ hours.
Walk Notes

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, or the legendary smugglers' inn the Lobster Smack.

A walk like no other? Most certainly.

Walk Options

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: http://www.plusbus.info/benfleet (under ‘Travel Maps - Interactive Streetmap’).
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).
An out-and-back Extension to Canvey Point, a narrow marshy spit in the estuary, adds 800m each way. [!] This is prone to becoming submerged at high tide, so be sure that you can get out – and back – in good time! Do not walk during the incoming tide. [!]

Maps

OS Explorer: 175 (Southend-on-Sea & Basildon)
OS Landranger: 178 (Thames Estuary)

Travel

Benfleet Station, map reference TQ 777 859, is 48 km east of Charing Cross, 6m above sea level and in Essex. It is on the London, Tilbury and Southend Railway line from Fenchurch Street to Shoeburyness in eastern Essex, with up to four (fast) trains an hour Mon-Sat and two on Sundays, journey time is between 43 and 48 minutes. All trains stop at one or more of the following DLR, Overground or Underground Stations: Limehouse, West Ham, Barking, Upminster.

Saturday Walkers’ Club: Take the train closest to 9.30 hours.

Elenvenses

Anita’s Tearooms Canvey Island Marina, Smallgains Creek, Canvey Island, Essex. Anita’s is located 6.9 km (4.3 mi) into the walk and has some inside and outside seating.

Lunch

Several cafés, tea rooms, pubs and restaurants on Canvey. Recommended are:
The Labworth Beach Café Furtherwick Road, Canvey Island, Essex SS8 7DW (01268 515 648). The Labworth is located 9.7 km (6.0 mi) into the walk.
The Lobster Smack Haven Road, Canvey Island, Essex SS8 0NR (01268 514 297). The Lobster Smack is located 13.2 km (8.2 mi) into the walk. 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’. It (and therefore the smugglers) was so out of the way behind the seawall that the inn in the 18th century was known as ‘The World’s End’. For the same reason, in the 19th century it became a favourite meeting place for bare-knuckle fights.

Tea

Several options just past Benfleet Station. Please consult page 2 of the pdf.

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Start SS7 1NF Map Directions

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Help

National Rail: 03457 48 49 50 • Travelline (bus times): 0871 200 22 33 (12p/min) • TFL (London) : 0343 222 1234

Version

Nov-21 Thomas G

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Walk Directions  

Full directions for this walk are in a PDF file (link above) which you can print, or download on to a Kindle, tablet, or smartphone.

This is just the introduction. This walk's detailed directions are in a PDF available from wwww.walkingclub.org.uk