• Start: Paglesham Churchend (GR 925 931)
  • End: Paglesham Churchend (GR 925 931)
  • Country: England
  • County: Essex
  • Type: Country
  • Nearest pub:
  • Ordnance Survey: OS Explorer 176 Blackwater Estuary
  • Difficulty: Easy
Google Map


A favourite daytripper destination for generations of Londoners, Southend's origins as a sunny seaside resort can be traced back to the late 18th century

Pagleshams strong maritime history can still be felt today during a walk around the village, whether through past smuggling haunts or the oyster farms still there

Step 1
Paglesham is one of the countys oldest fishing villages, formed by the two hamlets of Churchend and Eastend. This walk takes you through both hamlets, starting in Churchend. The name Paglesham comes from the local name for the cowslip, a pagle, which is why the cowslip is featured on the village sign. From the church, walk back into Paglesham Churchend and past the cottages and pub, The Punch Bowl.

Just after the last house, turn right onto a concrete track through a gate. Stay on the concrete track until just after a water pumping station when it becomes a grassy track. The path follows the ditch and you will eventually meet the head of Paglesham Creek by walking up on to the sea wall. Turn right on top of the wall and follow it for approximately 3 miles until reaching Paglesham Eastend. Youll enjoy the sights and sounds of the creek, from the white flash of a little egret to the working boatyards on the edge of the River Crouch seen in the distance. Approaching the boatyard and Eastend, the path follows alongside the old oyster beds. In the 19th century the inhabitants of the village were primarily oyster fishers, with large quantities going to the continent. The other pastime of Paglesham residents appeared to be smuggling. One smuggler, named Hard Apple or King of the Smugglers, turned out to be the local grocer and churchwarden, William Blyth. He cheated arrest twice. The first time he was caught by challenging the captain and crew of the cutter that discovered him to a drinking competition, which he won. While the crew were still unconscious, he reloaded his smuggled goods back onto his boat and made his getaway. The second incident was when the cutter that had arrested Blyth became stuck on a sand bank. Blyth bargained for his freedom by agreeing to free the cutter. The Paglesham mud also hides other secrets, including the remnants of Charles Darwins ship, HMS Beagle. This, and its sister ship HMS Kangaroo, ended their working lives as static customs and excise watch vessels on Paglesham Marshes.

Step 2
At the boatyard, go through the kissing gate and turn right by the fingerpost down the steps. The path goes over to the conifer hedge and follows along the edge of the yard, following the yellow arrows.
Once out of the yard, continue up the track, Waterside Road. Follow the road round to the left and the road comes out by the Plough and Sail pub. This pub is owned and run by the grandparents of Jamie Oliver and has been in the Oliver family for 40 years.
Turn right along the road. Follow the road back, past the interesting houses and cottages and through the S-bend. On the way back it is worth thinking about the various hiding places that were used for smuggled goods along the way. These included three elm trees at East Hall where
silk was hidden and the vestry at
St Peters Church.
After the S-bend, turn right onto a footpath where the pavement ends by the old school. This links nicely back to the church.

Essential Checklist

Distance: 6 miles / 9.4 km / 3 hours
Terrain: Easy walking, three stiles on the sea wall
Start: Paglesham Churchend (GR 925 931)
Map: OS Explorer 176 Blackwater Estuary
Parking: Parking is not allowed at the pub unless you pop in for a visit. There is limited parking by the church. Please park considerately as wide farm vehicles use the road
Refreshments: Two pubs en route
Tourist Information Centre: Southend Tourist Information Centre, Pier Entrance, Western Esplanade, Southend, Essex
SS1 1EE. 01702 215620
Places to visit: Wallasea Island RSPB. Contact 01603 661662
for more information.

About Open Access
Open Access Land means that where you see this symbol you can walk without sticking to the mapped paths. For more information on
Open Access and the right to roam visit or call 0845 100 3290

Each month Essex County Councils Public Rights of Way team provide Essex Life with a walk in the county. Walking, riding and cycling leaflets are available to download from or call 08457 430430

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