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 rivers and brooks are among the places in Basildon people visit least.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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 – email@example.com