An explorer's guide to the islands of Britain

51.516404, 0.579066
Distance: 26 km
Difficulty: 1
Method: Walk or cycle (gravel, mountain bike)
Wow Factor: 7 out of 10

Key Facts

  • Location: Essex
  • Size: 1840 hectares
  • Terrain: Marked tracks
  • Access: Road bridge
  • Height gain: 100 metres
  • Map: OS Explorer 175
  • Starting point: Benfleet Station. Lat/Long 51.543932, 0.561434; GR TQ 7771485891
  • Accommodation/food:

    Lobster Smack Inn, Windjammer pubs; Labworth Café and Concorde Beach Café

  • Island Summary:

    Quirky, independent and defined by the Thames Estuary Canvey lies on the north bank of the Thames between Basildon and Southend on Sea, just 25 miles from London. Most of the island lies below sea level and, despite being the fourth most populated island of England, it has a surprising amount of open space and two important nature reserves. Wild marshes, ancient inns, arty promenades and music royalty make a great day out from London.

  • Look out for:
    • Trail running
    • Bugs & birds Canvey Wick and Canvey Marsh
  • Route description:

    This clockwise walk or bike ride is on a flat well-marked trail along the sea wall that protects the island. Much of the route follows the creeks through the peaceful green marshes of the north and along the glistening bird-filled mudflats that are exposed at low tide in the south. A colourful section along the seawall of the Thames, with its art-deco café and murals, is followed by a fascinating insight into the island’s petrochemical heritage and Britain’s first nature reserve for bugs at Canvey Wick.

  • Getting there:

    Rail: Benfleet station. Road: M25 to Junction 29; A127 east (Southend-on-Sea direction) for 13 miles; A130 south on to Canvey Island; at first roundabout, left to Benfleet station.

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