Basildon is home to one of England’s rarest butterflies

The wildest things to do in Basildon. Watch peregrine falcons hunt over Pitsea Marsh, swim in Basildon’s Vange Creek, climb One Tree Hill for a view of the Thames Estuary, cycle-camp out of Barley Lands in mid winter. Wat Tyler Park, Langdon Hills, the River Crouch valley, Norsey Wood and Crays Hill are the green spaces that link Basildon’s urban centre to its wild exterior.

Tidal creeks and rivers – Basildon

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Tidal rivers and brooks are among the places in Basildon people visit least.

Vange creek

Basildon’s salt water lagoons and channels are best explored by canoe or kayak.
Wild swim at high tide from the Wat Tyler jetty.

Free car park in Wat Tyler Country Park beside the creek; extra parking around the children’s adventure playground, but it’s a 5 minute walk to the tidal water. 51.544887, 0.50306976


Crays Hill Ford

The bridge over the ford becomes impassable after heavy rain. Somewhere for the kids to paddle or take a cool dip. From here, continue along the footpath for 45 minutes north to Kent Hill and one of best views in Essex of… Kent.

Park in the village at Crays Hill (51.605351, 0.47659636) and walk 10 minutes down the bridleway. 51.610850, 0.47339112


battlesbridge

Tide meets freshwater at this ancient crossing. Swim at either low or high water on the west side of the weir. Kayak west along Basildon quietest boundary; walk east towards Rochford looking out for shags and grey herons.

Park in Maltings Road for immediate bridge access (51.623212, 0.56945443) or walk 10-minutes behind the antique shops for the northern (951.624438, 0.57625651) seawall. 51.622709, 0.57077944

Wild woods – Basildon

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Basildon’s highest places are all publicly accessible. Use the wooded hills for star gazing from inside a bivvie after midnight when Essex County Council switches off the street lights.

Norsey Woods

Walk ancient burial mounds. The leafy air around the scene of the Battle of Billericay during the failed Peasants’ Revolt of 1381 still smells of rebellion. Glorious.
Car park at wood entrance. 51.634068, 0.44155180


Noak Bridge Wood

A 12-acre slice of urban woodland on the southern tip of the Noak Bridge valley, gouged to the north by the River Crouch. A cycle stop over: cool in summer, shelter in winter.
Park in residential roads around Noak Bridge, for cycle of walking access to Barley Lands, Crays Hill and Ramadan Heath.
51.587323, 0.45288563


Vange Hill

Three footpaths cut across the grassy knolls that make up Basildon Golf Course. Walk early morning, to the east side, to catch a flashing glimpse of badgers, foxes and, sometimes, a pair of circling buzzards.
The golf club car park (51.55860, 0.45881867) provides free car parking.

51.559517, 0.47086716

Northlands Wood

Council rangers teach wild camping skills here. These sandy hills were used as a camp by the ancients because of their protective leafy canopy and strategic green lane access to the River Thames.
Free public parking (51.546182, 0.44644833) or cycle here from Langdon Hills.
51.545084 0.43718690


Great Berry

A series of wooded bridleway to walk or cycle, linking Westerly Heights and Langdon Hills to the south. Hillcrest Avenue Track is part of a prehistoric route once used by salt traders.
Parking in surrounding roads.
51.561091, 0.39969206


Moses Spring Wood

Forms a link to five other woods. For tree lovers: hornbeam. ash, field maple, hazel and oak. Late night hammocking after the last train. To the north-east is an Elm tree. Bluebells and ferns in late spring.
Access from the bridleway across the rail track (51.623452, 0.46335697) or walk down from the car park (51.634015, 0.44112682) at Norsey Woods.
51.625288, 0.44884490

Cycle camp and tramp – Basildon

Basildon’s horse riding community lost many of its long distance bridleways 40 years ago. Cycle camping and canoes are the next best things: as close as it gets to a free adventure out of stirrups.

Wat Tyler

A public launch for kayaks and canoes. Immediate access to foreshore camping around Thurrock, Benfleet, Canvey and Southend. One of the best places in Essex to see hunting peregrine falcons.
Free car park.
51.544934, 0.50309658


langdon hills bridleway

Thankfully, a maze of bridleways still dissect Basildon’s greenest parts, around the peaks known today as Langdon Hills.
The area’s importance is demonstrated by cycle and walking access south (over the A13) to Fobbing Marshes via Sustrans Route 13. 51.558870, 0.41665435


The Mile Gallop

Horse riders (who maybe should know better) do gallop it, but heck, who cares; it’s a wonderful sight.
An ancient trade route that still links the Thames foreshore to inland homesteads and camps; only cyclists and walkers can go the full distance from coast to countryside. 51.577470, 0.54978848

laindon common

Bivvy down at this wooded common, on the River Crouch, before turning east at dawn to the off-road tracks to Thorndon Park.
The best walking and cycles routes (if time is no factor) are the footpaths off Tye Common, along which cyclists have a legal right to push their bikes.
51.609782, 0.40944457


wiggins lane

A greenway link that forms a circular route for cyclists around Basildon’s wild north.
East is the strategically important Crays Hill bridleway, and west, the Eastlands Spring greenway towards Jury Hill, at Brentwood. 51.614222, 0.40232690


Coombe Wood

Home to a rarely seen butterfly: the purple hairstreak. They hatch between June and early September, but spend most of their time perched on leaves at top of oak trees. Come with binoculars.
Parking at woodland entrance; a good base to explore the surrounding bridleways and tracks.
51.554374, 0.42528033

Food and sleep – Basildon

Good food in Basildon.

Robin Pie and Mash

Eels and liquor, pie ‘n’ mash. The best eaterie in Basildon. Even tastier after a day hiking the hills and creeks.
65-67 Market Sq, Basildon, SS14 1DE, 01268 271713.


The Greedy Chef

Best breakfast stop for cyclists. Stopover before heading out towards Church Road, the A13 underpass / bridleway and Bowers Marsh.
Manor Koi & Garden Centre, Pound Lane, Bowers Gifford, Basildon, SS13 2JS, 01268 729837.


Barleylands

Camping at a working farm with its own restaurant and shop. Access to easy cycling or walking around Basildon’s north trails.
Barleylands Road, Billericay, Essex, CM11 2UD, 01268 290223.

The Coach & Horses

36 Chapel Street, Billericay, Essex.


Noak Bridge

45 Wash Road, Basildon, Essex.


The Nags Head

50 Heath Road, Billericay, Essex.

Talks, workshops and Essex tours


Workshops for schools, scouts, guides, community groups or businesses. Learn how to wild camp and forage, or where to hike, canoe and cycle in Essex. Also, talks on the unique history of land ownership in Essex, and how to enjoy the outdoors by understanding all the laws of access.


Phone – 07947 160007

Email – news@wildessex.com


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