An explorer's guide to the islands of Britain

51.725594, 0.721230
Distance: 6.3 km (from Maldon)
Difficulty: Easy
Method: Walking
Wow Factor: 7 out of 10

Key Facts

  • Location: Maldon, Essex
  • Size: 300 ha
  • Terrain: Muddy causeway and island tracks
  • Access: Tidal causeway
  • Height gain: 28 metres
  • Map: OS Explorer 176
  • Starting point: Car park near Maldon Museum GR 51.727218, 0.686801; CM9 5JX
  • Accommodation/food:

    No food on the island but plenty in Maldon. We like the food and views at the Queen’s Head Inn.

    The island’s Northey House is the former home of Sir Norman Angell and now a wonderful holiday cottage that sleeps ten (call 01279 722272).

    Camp during the annual Castaway weekend

  • Island Summary:

    Northey Island is a wild, National Trust-owned island a stone’s throw from historic Maldon in the tidal Blackwater River estuary. It is accessed via a tidal causeway, which played its part in the Battle of Maldon where the Vikings fought local forces on this, the oldest recorded battlefield in Britain. Northey island is surrounded by creeping tides and saltmarsh, the origin of the famous Maldon seasalt used in cookery worldwide. The fringes of the island are home to thousands of shelduck, godwit, avocet, greenshank and plover along with Brent geese which overwinter here and graze Northey’s pastureland. The Maldon mud deserve a mention as it even has its own famous Maldon mud race.

    Once across the causeway (accessible two hours either side of high tide) there is a metalled lane running up the west coast to Northey House.  There are lovely glimpses through the ash,  hawthorn, crab apple, dog rose, lilac, privet and elder hedgerows and boughs of the pine and horse chestnut to the gentle waters of the river and the town of Maldon beyond. It is possible to walk around the outside edge of the rest of the island on a path that runs along the sea wall.

    An island highlight is it’s Castaway event, a camping weekend where you’ll be cut off from the world, a unique opportunity to visit Northey Island at high tide and experience camping in it’s most purist form. There are stalls and activities, a beer tent and hot food, live music and themed activities for the kids.

  • Look out for:
    • Birds and sounds of the Blackwater Estaury
    • Real wilderness in Essex
    • Maldon mud racing
  • Route description:

    The route starts at the Maldon Marine Parade Recreation Ground Car Park and heads to the promenade alongside the River Blackwater. Before reaching the Maldon Recycling Centre head south on the path alongside fields to reach and cross the causeway.  The causeway can be muddy and slippery but the views of the mud banks are fantastic. Once on the island there is an easy lane to follow to the Warden’s Cottage (to pay a small charge for island access). There is a gap in the hedge on the left just before the cottage (signed ‘Private’) to reach the path that follows the perimeter of the island back to the causeway. Retrace route back to Maldon.

  • Getting there:

    By car drive south of Chelmsford on the A414, 1 mile southeast of Maldon on the B1018Parking: Parking at Promenade Park, Maldon, CM9 5JQ. Northey Island is a mile away along the sea wall (access to island by appointment only, call 01621 853142 for a permit). The island is not accessible for about 2 hours either side of high tide.


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