- Start: Behind the Essex Wildlife Trust Visitor Centre car park. GR 660 875
- End: Behind the Essex Wildlife Trust Visitor Centre car park. GR 660 875
- Country: England
- County: Essex
- Type: Country
- Nearest pub:
- Ordnance Survey: Explorer 175 Southend on Sea and Basildon
- Difficulty: Medium
If you did not know that Basildon has a beautiful corner that provides striking views across undulating landscape, then it's time to explore Langdon Hills
Distance: 5 miles / 7.7km / 2 hours Terrain: Hilly
Start: Behind the Essex Wildlife Trust Visitor Centre car park. GR 660 875
Map: Explorer 175 Southend on Sea and Basildon
Parking: Essex Wildlife Trust car park
Refreshments: Snacks at the Visitor Centre and at Westley Heights
Tourist Information Centre: Southend Tourist Information Centre, Pier Entrance, Western Esplanade, Southend on Sea SS1 1EE.
Call 01702 215620
Places to visit: The Haven Museum is en route and is open all year.
Call in at the Visitor Centre for more details.
To start the walk, head to the back of the car park by the information hut and turn left. This Nature Reserve is the largest inland reserve managed by the Essex Wildlife Trust. Keep an eye and ear out for the myriad of birds hidden away in the bushes. At the T-junction, go left towards the road but turn right just beforehand.
Follow the path round to the right, heading away from the road and keep going straight as the path begins to gently go up hill. Walk through the clearing, a lovely place to picnic, to a T-junction at a dog bin, turn right and meander through the trees. At another T-junction (there are a lot of these, the plotlands being set out in squares), turn left.
The Dunton Plotlands were in use between the 1930s and 1970s and were used as both holiday and permanent homes. The homes have since been demolished but through the undergrowth glimpses can be seen of gate posts, rubble and even air raid shelters. The path emerges out onto rolling arable farmland, with views across to London and the Thames Estuary.
Eventually, the track meets with another marked with a yellow arrow. Keep following the main track round to the left. At another junction, keep right on to what was Egerton Drive. This will also start to head up hill. The path gently descends the other side back into the woods. Just past Val's Gate, a wooden field gate, turn right, away from the recreation ground. At the lamppost in the woods (not quite Narnia), turn right up the wide track. The track winds past the backs of houses, although never leaving the confines of the woodland. Walk past the junction of a path by a bridge and keep going until arriving at some steps.
Turn right before them, go through the kissing gate and head straight up hill. Follow the well-worn path out of the woods and straight across a field towards a mast.
This field used to be the cricket ground and is owned by a brewery, but due to high rent the cricket club relocated to Corringham. This is also the second highest point in Essex at 384 feet above sea level. Cross the roads and walk down the road by the pub, there are toilets at Westley Heights in the car park. Turn right onto a path, marked with a wooden bollard with a white top, that takes you behind the mast keeping right at the junction, back to the road. Cross the road and turn left, walking along the top of the bank by the roadside. Go through the gate and walk up the wide track into Coombe Wood.
As the wood opens out, turn right onto a smaller track through the bracken, DO NOT GO DOWNHILL. Stay on the main path; you will know it is correct when you come across a yellow arrow with a green square beneath it on a post. Follow the yellow arrow to the right. At the junction, turn right up hill then left once reaching the recreation ground.
The path then runs behind the buildings, do not follow the main route, turn right at the red-topped post and follow the fenceline. At the road, cross over and walk down the lane opposite, Old Church Hill. Opposite the house called Bay Trees and a post box, turn right up some steps and over a stile. Follow the path over another stile out into a field. Keep ahead with the hedge on the left. At the corner of the field go over a stile and bridge by a barn, then turn right and follow the field edge up the hill. At the top of the field, cross the stile then turn left into the Nature Reserve. At the fork, go left and stay on the main path, always keeping ahead. At the T-junction, go left along what was Wheaton Avenue. Go ahead though the barrier and rejoin the bridleway that links back to the plotlands and car park, just keep straight ahead but make sure to stop off at The Haven Museum on the way back, a 1930s plotlands bungalow.
Each month Essex County Council's Public Rights of Way team provide Essex Life with a walk in the county. Walking, riding and cycling leaflets are available to download from www.essex.gov.uk or call 08457 430430