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Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Walk 21 Burnham on Crouch to Tillingham

Walk 21 Burnham on Crouch to Tillingham (Essex)

(First leg of English coastal walk – Broadstairs in Kent to Berwick at the border with Scotland).

Map: L/R 168
Distance: about 14 miles including walk inland to car/bus
Difficulty: easy, mainly flat
Terrain: mostly paths some of which can be muddy
Access: Parking at both ends
Public transport: If a bus is needed one way it may be easier to walk this backwards from Tillingham. Bus D4 leaves Burnham on Crouch at 9:33 and 11:33 (on weekdays) and takes about 30 minutes to get to Tillingham. The other way a bus goes from Tillingham at 2:05 but unless the walk is started very early would not allow enough time. There are buses after this at 3:47 and 6:35 but these involve 2 changes and lengthy journeys. Further info. on

As the map shows there is very little access to the coast except by the occasional farm track. After the northern turn away from the River Crouch estuary it is a walk alongside flat marshland; some may call it bleak but it has its own unique atmosphere. Don’t expect to see many other walkers on the second half of this walk.

Start the walk at the seafront of Burnham-on-Crouch. On the opposite shore is the ferry landing/embarkation point on Wallasea Island. When the Black Death ravaged England in the 14th century the sailors of Burnham were the only men prepared to ship grain into London. As a reward they were given the right to land corn in the capital free of all taxes forever. (Now?)

Continuing along the estuary the buildings on the north of Foulness Island can be spotted across the estuary. The occasional World War 2 fortification can be seen near to the footpath, other wise the landscape is rather featureless. (Botanists and wildlife experts may well disagree with this!) 

Turning northwards near Holliwell there is a vast area called Ray Sand – at least there is if the tide is out. Along this part of the coast the tide goes out about 2 miles but comes in right up to the shore line. It can be very dangerous to walk on the sandy beaches, although, here and there, a few fishermen can be spotted on the nearby shore. Inland are Dengie and Tillingham Marshes. Dengie marshes have been denuded of trees in the last 30 years due to Dutch Elm disease – adding to its desolate appearance. It was a very quite and peaceful walk but would be less so if the military ranges to the south were active.

Follow the path up until it joins St Peters Path which then heads inland towards Tillingham. The path passes through Dots and Melons which turned out to be a farm building housing a tool wholesaler. The centre of Tillingham is a conservation area which includes a 15th century pub called the ‘The Cap and Feathers’ and a church with a Norman nave, 13thcentury chapel and 14th century tower.

Snaps show: views along the walk including Dengie Marshes, Ray Sands, an old World War 2 fortification and the ferry crossing from Wallasea Island.

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