Southend is where to forage for oysters and samphire

Wild camp Southend’s sandy foreshore, swim around the creeks of Leigh or take a mud bath in the Oaze

Mud baths, wild swimming and sunken isles – Southend

miles of sandy beach

miles of coast

offshore cockle paths

Walk to Southend’s sandy islands, swim in warm creeks or forage for shell fish.

Leigh Sands

The UK’s best beaches are less than one mile from the Thames shore. The sandy spits and islands are mostly deserted, as the tide floods them twice a day. Good for seal watching. 51.532562, 0.66398621

the Cockle paths

Four ancient tracks accessible on the ebb tide for foragers, wild swimmer and bait diggers. The Crowstone path is best for creek dips, mud baths and foraging for oysters. 51.536469, 0.67708611

Chalk well Oaze

An unbridged tidal creek to be swum or paddled for access to the offshore sands. The incoming Oaze carries swimmers into the sun-warmed creeks in July and August. 51.534003, 0.66827774

Leigh Creek

The fisherman’s friend. Provides sea access at all levels of tide. Best chance for youngsters and more cautious swimmers to sample the healing delights of Thames mud. 51.538862, 0.65293550

Two Tree Island

Not often sunken, but a treasure. Pick marsh samphire (or sea asparagus) from June until August on the foreshore. On a rising tide bathe in the eel grass shallows on the west tip. 51.536539, 0.63969612

Leigh channel

Home to Essex’s most famous landmark: Southend Pier. England’s football team came here to bathe in the mud pools prior to going on to win the 1966 World Cup. 51.514976, 0.72200507

Cycle, surf n kayak – Southend

places to launch a canoe

miles of foot- & cockle path

longest pier in the world

Launch a canoe at Southend’s public jetty, set off at the start of the Saffron Trail or kite surf the Shoebury dunes.

Prittle Brook

Cycle four miles on Prittle Brook from Priory Park, Southend, to Great Wood, on the Hadleigh border. 51.538862, 0.65293550

Saffron Trail

The quickest route into the wilds surrounding Southend is via its north west flank on the Saffron Trail. Pick up the route from Daws Heath Road and cycle through Belfairs Park into Oakwood, and on into Green and the Blatches Farm valley51.536539, 0.63969612

Shoebury east beach

The sea breezes and uniquely shallow waters at the edge of the Thames estaury make this beach one of the best places for kite surfing. 51.514976, 0.72200507

Hadleigh Ray

Launch kayaks or canoes free of charge (once the harbour staff go at 6pm – otherwise it’s £6; Grrrr) from the PLA ramp at Two Tree Island. 51.538862, 0.65293550

southend esplanade

Free public slip way for launching kayaks or canoes into the Thames Estuary at two hours either side of high tide. Fish for bass around the pier groins. 51.535552, 0.68586767

Ancient and sacred – Southend

Picnic in Southend ancient Priory Park, swim around a mayoral marker, or survey the site of a prehistoric mound.

The Crowstone

The marker that signifies the London Mayor’s jurisdiction over the tidal Thames. Formerly for laws that controlled fishing and foraging rights, many of which are now redundant. Bass fishing good.

Priory Park

An ancient holy site, where in 2004 the tomb of a Saxon king was discovered while expanding a road into the park. The Prittle Brook flows through the site.51.536539, 0.63969612

St Mary’s Church

A prehistoric mound overlooking the former Prittlewell Priory. a small chapel was first erected on the site in the 7th century. A portion of the Saxon doorway of that tiny chapel remains today as part of the north wall of the chancel.51.514976, 0.72200507

Local food, tramping and sleep

Southend’s best food and sleep.

The Billet

Food is OK. Service is fine. Cockles from Osbournes washed down with a beer on the seawall looking across the estuary is as good as it gets on a Saturday afternoon.


Still sells fish straight from the boat in York Road, just as his father and his grandfather did before them.51.536539, 0.63969612

The boatyard

A controversial entry because so many people I know think the place is overpriced and under delivers. They’re mad. Get outside on the decking, ask for a local caught sole and sup in the sea air. Magic51.514976, 0.72200507

The Railway Hotel

In my opinion, the best vegetarian restaurant in Southend. Choosing to eat here on a night when live music is playing from 9pm is a good idea.

The Peterboat

The place has had a makeover in recent years. May have lost some of that Old Leigh charm; has gained a little on the fine dining side. If youre on a budget, ignore the food menu and even the bar… bring your own bottle of wine and sit on the seawall to watch the sunset over the mudflats.

premier inn

Bikes can be stored at back. Ideal location for cycles to the River Crouch or Olympic mountain bike centre. 51.514976, 0.72200507

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 –