An explorer's guide to the islands of Britain

51.595442, 0.894413
Distance: 29 km
Difficulty: 2/5
Method: Walking
Wow Factor: 8 out of 10

Key Facts

  • Location: Essex
  • Size: 2430 hectares
  • Terrain: Foreshore walking; easy tracks and paths on the island
  • Access: Tidal walk along The Broomway
  • Height gain: 123 metres
  • Map: OS Explorer 176
  • Starting point: Wakering Stairs. Lat/Long 51.548505, 0.839657. GR TQ 96983 87112
  • Accommodation/food:

    Cakes, sandwiches, hot and cold drinks at the Heritage Centre on the first Sunday of the month between April and September. No accommodation on the island. The closest accommodation to Foulness Island is in Southend-on-Sea.

  • Island Summary:

    Foulness is the largest island in Essex, and the fourth largest island in England. It’s a paradox of Ministry of Defence ownership and peaceful rural living amongst several working farms. During the week, when the red flags are flying, missiles, armaments, torpedoes and ballistics are tested to destruction, with the bangs and booms heard in Southend and beyond. The landscape is dotted with watchtowers, launch towers, strange domes, fenced compounds and low-rise buildings that all keep their secrets tight.

  • Look out for:
    • Epic tidal walk
    • Meeting locals at the heritage centre
    • Fantastic home-made cakes
    • Walking the 'UK's deadliest highway'
  • Route description:

    You can visit Foulness Island by car but walking the Broomway is by far the most adventurous approach and the ultimate in coastal walking. Start from Wakering Stairs along the sands of the Broomway to Fisherman’s Head on Foulness. Once on the island the paths and minor roads are easy to walk, with one long stretch along the seawall bordering the Rivers Crouch and Roach with great views across to Burnham-on-Crouch and Wallasea Island. Paths through crops and farms lead back to the seawall at Asplins Head for the return across the sands. The route may be shortened using the various well-marked rights of way on the island.

    NOTE: walking the Broomway can be dangerous. Make sure you only attempt it on a clear day as it is easy to get disorientated. The Broomway is inaccessible and dangerous 3 hours either side of high tide. For route detail and timings please check out ‘Islandeering: adventures around the edge of Britain’s hidden islands’. 

  • Getting there:

    Getting to Foulness island by bus, or car. A bus, Line 41, operates between Southend on Sea to Foulness Monday to Saturdays. By car drive down High Street, Great Wakering to the roundabout at the church. Take the second exit (right) and continue along New Road, veering right around the Church Yard. Follow New Road through the houses until it merges with Stairs Road. Report to the Qinetiq reception and ask for access to Wakering Stairs.



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Welcome new readers

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Walking the Broomway & Foulness Island

Walking the Broomway to Foulness Island is one of the best wild Essex experiences.

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