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
, height profile
, gpx/kml files
and plenty of photos
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).