Friday 10 April 2015
Benfleet to Little Wakering, Essex
18.5 miles walked
Southend Airport Premier Inn
Another train trip across London first thing was significantly improved by meeting my sister-in-law, Laura, at Marylebone for a quick coffee. The train journey meant I was late starting from Benfleet but I was rewarded with a beautiful walk through Hadleigh Country Park with views of Hadleigh Castle and Two Tree Island (which has many more than two trees).
It didn’t take long to reach Leigh-on-Sea and then I passed the Crow Stone in the mud at Southend-on-Sea that signifies the end of the Thames proper. I already knew I was at the seaside because the breeze had picked up, I could smell the sea and Southend had everything one might find at the classic British beach resort, except a donkey and a Punch and Judy…oh and the sea! It was a hazy day (I struggled to see the end of the famous pier) and the tide was out so for a long time I thought I was in Southend-on-Mudflats. Still, there were hundreds of families enjoying a day on the beach and I received a few more strange looks, which I’m slowly getting used to.
After celebrating reaching the sea with my first ice cream of the trip I headed out of Southend and on to Shoeburyness. I walked through an old Artillery Barracks that has been turned into some rather smart homes and then had to detour inland slightly to get around MOD firing ranges (used by QinetiQ). There is a path through the firing ranges and out to Haven Point that was open today so I walked it. No photos allowed though.
The final part of today’s walk took me around the windy inlets of The Middleway, facing the MOD-owned Islands which are at the most Easterly tip of Essex and used as a firing range. I cut inland to finish with a pint at the Castle Inn in Little Wakering, where a gentleman informed me that Essex is the county with the longest coastline because it’s so wiggly.