- Start: Car park along the sea wall, GR for Furtherwick Road car park 801 824
- End: Car park along the sea wall, GR for Furtherwick Road car park 801 824
- Country: England
- County: Essex
- Type: Country
- Nearest pub: The Lobster Smack is on the route as well as various shops and cafés along the sea front
- Ordnance Survey: Explorer 175 Southend on Sea and Basildon
- Difficulty: Medium
A mix of modern aspects and peaceful marshes make this tour of Canvey Island an ideal walk for the festive season
Take a stroll around Canvey Island
The name Canvey Island is a victim of tautology as Canvey itself means island of Canas people. There are many car parks along the sea wall, but this route begins at the one on Furtherwick Road and follows the sea wall round the island which can be accessed quite easily from any car park along the esplanade. Once on the wall, turn right towards the industrial area. On a clear day there are lovely views across the Thames estuary to Kent. This part of the walk is easy to follow, just stay on the sea wall, but there is access to the beach if you wish to walk there instead. At the gas depot, walk down the slope to walk under the pipeline then rejoin the sea wall. Despite it being so industrial here, it is surprisingly peaceful. There is the chance to stop for refreshments at the Lobster Smack public house which is featured at the end of Charles Dickens book Great Expectations.
After this the scenery becomes more rural. As the fields open up, there is a footpath to the right across a stile through a field. Follow this diagonally to the left across the field in the direction of the fingerpost. At the other end of the field, cross through the new fenceline and over a culvert and through another new gate. Follow the ditch line keeping it to the right. By the fence the path becomes surfaced. Eventually the path opens up onto a football pitch. Keep left and exit by the metal gate and follow the concrete track to the road. At the road, turn right. At the roundabout, turn left, following the sign to the Dutch Cottage Museum walking up the road that runs beside the A130. At the museum, rejoin the pavement running alongside the A130. Carefully cross the road and turn right onto Dyke Crescent. It is necessary to walk through the residential area to reach the northern side of the island.
This runs through the area known as Dutch Village, not directly because of the Dutch people that settled on Canvey. The only evidence of the Dutch coming to Canvey are the sea walls that they built in the 17th century and the two remaining Dutch Cottages, one of which is the museum. Some 300 years later a businessman, Mr Hester, came to Canvey and started selling off plots of land for 5 in a plotland style development. This area was around Dutch Village and its selling point was the fact that all the road names were Dutch, creating Dutch Village.
At the end of the road, join the footpath that runs through the field, following the well-walked line. Cross the bridge over the ditch by the school, bear left and join Third Avenue. Turn right down Third Avenue and just past the supermarket Third Avenue joins Link Road. Turn left here. In a short time, just past Silverlink Court (new buildings) turn left into an alleyway, a series of alleys will take you to the north of the island. These alleyways pass through the area of Canvey known as Winter Gardens. Mr Hester was responsible for the naming of this area too. Winter Gardens was once an area covered in glasshouses containing flowers and even woodlands.
However, when Mr Hester was declared bankrupt, all the glasshouses were pulled down and eventually built over, leaving only the name. Follow this alley to a road, turn left, then right up the next alley, carrying straight across the grass to Steli Avenue. Turn left again, then right up the next one, turn left once in the grass then right before the fence on well-walked paths. Turn left along Central Wall, then right just past Central Road to Somnes Avenue. Cross the road using the pedestrian crossing to the right, then turn left back up the road. At the end of the wall, turn right at the fingerpost following the line of the path through the grass.
Keep walking straight ahead at the double set of fingerposts to re-join the sea wall. Turn right along the wall and enjoy the views across the marshes to Hadleigh Castle and Two Tree Island. As you come into view of the caravan park, turn right off the sea wall. The path runs alongside the park. At the road, go straight ahead, alongside the railings and follow the path round to the left. Then turn left up Smallgains Avenue. The path goes along the top of the old sea wall, which eventually rejoins the new one, this follows Smallgains Creek out to the eastern part of the island. There is also a path here that leads out to Canvey Point. As you turn south the sea wall gently takes you back round to the esplanade and back to the car park at Furtherwick Road.
Distance: 10 miles / 17km / 5 hours
Terrain: Mainly flat sea walls, some steps and stiles
Start: Car park along the sea wall, GR for Furtherwick Road car park 801 824
Map: Explorer 175 Southend on Sea and Basildon
Parking: Car parks all along esplanade, although Furtherwick Road does have a public toilet
Refreshments: The Lobster Smack is on the route as well as various shops and cafs along the sea front
Tourist Information Centre: Southend Tourist Centre, Pier Entrance, Western Esplanade, Southend on Sea SS1 1EE call 01702 215620
Places to visit: Castle Point Transport Museum Society, call 01268 684272.
Dutch Cottage Museum, call 01268 794005 for more information and opening times