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)

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)

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)

29-Dec-15 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

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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.

15-Feb-16 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

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Benfleet Creek, outside Benfleet Station

SWC Walk 258 Benfleet Circular (via Canvey Island)

29-Dec-15 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

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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

History

This is a list of previous times this walk has been done by the club (since Jan 2010). For more recent events (since April 2015), full details are shown.

Date # Post
Sat, 16-Jun-18 13

Saturday Walk - A Walk Like No Other: Benfleet Circular (via Canvey Island)

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 10.02 Shoeburyness train from Fenchurch Street (10.06 Limehouse, 10.11 West Ham, 10.16 Barking, 10.25 Upminster), arrives Benfleet 10.45.
Return trains: xx.00 and xx.30 to Fenchurch Street, and xx.15 and xx.45 to L’pool Street.
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: http://www.plusbus.info/benfleet (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) 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 pdf and gpx/kml files click here.
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13 on this very enjoyable walk. The first highlight was the little extension onto the tidal mudflats facing Southend Pier, we had beautiful clear views of Leigh On Sea and the Isle of Sheppey to our right. After walking around to face the Kent coast several of us took refreshments outside at a little tea room while watching children play on a little beach. The cafe offered us 10p on each mug we bought back, apparently a lot of Canvey Islanders walk off with them! And so on to a lovely lunchtime pub where most walkers enjoyed lunch alfresco. Next bit was a bit industrial with big gas/oil holding facilities but this in no way spoilt what was a varied and interesting walk. The last third was green and beautiful.
Sun, 17-Sep-17 7

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: http://www.plusbus.info/benfleet (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.
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7 in 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.
Sat, 06-Feb-16 14

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).

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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
Intend going.
Is this likely to be muddy? Or is it paved most of the way?
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...
14 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.
apparently wind speeds were up to 50mph by the end of the day so we did well not to be blown away completely!
Thanks to Thomas for devising this bleakly beautiful addition to the SWC programme, and for the typically comprehensive walk guide.