Gentle coast path with quiet, residential, and seaside resort sections, and the world's longest leisure pier.
|Length||7.8 miles ( 12.5 km ). Add 2.6 miles ( 4.3 km ) for the pier|
|Toughness||1/10 (no ascent, wide pavement throughout)|
|OS Map||OS Explorer 175 (Southend-on-Sea) and 176 (Blackwater Estuary) for the last few km, but Google Maps on your phone would be fine.|
This easy but quirky walk follows the south Essex coast from historic Leigh-on-Sea, via quiet coast towns to Southend's Pier to the end of the line at Shoeburyness. This walk, part of the England Coast Path, is interesting rather than dramatic. The best parts are the start near Leigh, Southend's Pier, and the end around Shoeburyness.
It starts in historic Leigh-on-Sea, with a small harbour and seaside pubs.
Leaving Leigh, you follow a quite beach side path, separated from the mainland above by the coastal rail line, with only occasional footbridges linking them.
As you pass Chalkwell station, the nature of the walk changes. It now a wide sea front promenade, that gets increasingly busy as you approach Southend. From here on there is a sort of sandy beach, but the tides goes out a long way, exposing mudflats.
Chalkwell is quiet and residential, which becomes a bit samey after a while. Pass Tides cafe on the seafront.
Chalkwell morphs into Westcliff, where the coast road comes a bit too close to the promenade, but the housing, on a gentle hill, becomes posher. Pass The Beach Hut restaurant.
Soon you are beside Cliff Gardens (gentle hillside gardens, with Southend proper above). Pass Oliver's cafe. You come to the pier.
Do walk the 1.3 miles out to the end of the pier ( £2 / £1 in winter, closed Mon-Tue in winter, cafe at the end in high season). Highly recommended
This is the busiest section of beach - closest to the main stations for day trippers. However, the promenade is very wide, and it doesn't last long before you've passed the summer crowds who congregate close to the station.
You pass through Southchurch, passing Billy Hundreds (tapas) and Ocean Beach (restaurant) After this point there are few cafes/pubs.
Pass Thorpe Bay. There is a beach level path, away from the road.
You reach Shoebury Common beach with beach huts, passing Uncle Tom's Cabin (kiosk selling coffee etc.).
Here the nature of the walk changes again, as you enter an army training area. (There is a Harvester pub just inland from the beach closed barrier). The beach is closed, but the coast path (and park behind it) is fine. Keep following the coast path, passing several WW2 era remains. After the closed beach, there are a few sections when you can walk along the narrow sea wall rather than along residential streets behind it.
Finally, you come to Shoeburyness East Beach, an quiet open grassy area. After it, the coast access is blocked for good by Pig's Bay MOD (military) base. Head inland here for Shoeburyness station. The Shoeburyness Hotel (pub) is 100m to the left (south) along the High Street.
Trains on the coastal rail line are frequent, so you could use them to skip the less interesting sections of promenade walking.
Drivers could do 3 shorter walks, around Leigh-on-Sea, Southend Pier, and around Shoeburyness.
This walks passes the following stations (in order) : Leigh-on-Sea, Chalkwell, Westcliff, Southend Central, Southend East, Thorpe Bay, and Shoeburyness. They are all on the Fenchurch Street - Southend - Shoeburyness line. About 2 trains/hour, take 1 hour.
By car, Leigh Marshes car park, SS9 2ET, near the start is free after 10am (Mon-Fri) and £1 at weekends.
C2C, who runs trains on the London Fenchurch Street - Benfleet - Leigh-on-Sea - Southend-on-Sea - Shoeburyness line, have serveral obfuscated discounts.
After the walk, we would love to get your feedback
Out (not a train station)
Back (not a train station)
National Rail: 03457 48 49 50 • Travelline (bus times): 0871 200 22 33 (12p/min) • TFL (London) : 0343 222 1234
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