A circular coastal walk from Prittlewell to Leigh-on-Sea

Beachfront at Southend

Enjoy the sea air - Credit: Simon Taylor

Words and photos: Simon Taylor on behalf of the Public Rights of Way team at Essex County Council

Follow the Prittle Brook Greenway from Southend to Leigh and back along the seafront – urban walking at its best 

Distance:  9.3 miles (15km). 

Starting point:  The free car park in Priory Park off Victoria Avenue, Prittlewell, Southend-on-Sea SS2 6ND, grid reference TQ875872.  

Getting there: Best access is from the A127; turn right at Cuckoo Corner (signed for Southend Central) and after 400 metres the park entrance is on the left. The walk is accessible from two railways lines: Southend Victoria station (Liverpool St. line) is near the start, whereas the walk passes Leigh-on-Sea and Chalkwell stations (Fenchurch St. line). The area is well served by buses with the 9 service (Rayleigh – Shoeburyness) stopping at Priory Park (essexbus.info). 

Map: OS Explorer 175 Southend-on-Sea & Basildon 

Refreshment: Old Leigh, approximately half-way on the walk, has abundant pubs and cafes (for a pub lunch, it may be best to book a table). From there to the pier all usual seaside fayre is widely available. 

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Places of interest: The original Prittlewell Priory was established in the early 12th century, and in 1321 the Prior was murdered at the altar! After the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the 1530s, it was a private residence until being donated to the town in the early 1900s. At Chalkwell, the walk passes the Crowstone, an eight-metre-high obelisk on the foreshore, marking the extent of control of the estuary by the City of London. It is thought a stone of some form has been in place since 1197, when the City of London was sold the rights by King Richard I.  

Interactive map: essexhighways.org/getting-around/public-rights-of-way/prow-interactive-map    

The Walk 

1. From the car park, head across the greensward and exit Priory Park onto Victoria Avenue. Across the road, beside a row of bungalows, is the entrance to a footpath, marked on one side by a wooden post saying ‘Prittle Brook Greenway’ and on the other by a wooden statue of a monk. Follow this route, which is regularly waymarked and signed as it crosses numerous roads, always with the Prittle Brook (with concreted banks along its length) on your left.  

Prittle Brook Greenway sign, Southend

Follow the Prittle Brook Greenway - Credit: Simon Taylor

2. Where the Greenway emerges onto Eastwood Boulevard, cross over and follow Manchester Drive. The Greenway reappears on your left just past the Catholic primary school. 

3. Some 500 metres further on, the Greenway crosses Manchester Drive, the two entrances offset by some 60 metres. The path passes through Bonchurch Park or you can skirt around it, regaining the Greenway off Kingswood Chase. 

4. Past Eastwood Drive, the path turns sharp right and then left, on the edge of Belfairs Golf Course. The path crosses a bridge, so for a short stretch Prittle Brook is to your right, before another bridge returns the brook to your left. In places the path is surfaced with cockle shells. After the second bridge, turn sharp left and follow the unsurfaced path beside the brook.  

View across the estuary at Southend

Gorgeous waterfront views - Credit: Simon Taylor

5. After 600 metres, at the end of the golf course, the path heads left, over a bridge. The path passes between houses, finally leaving Prittle Brook behind. Cross over Vardon Drive and follow Agnes Avenue, then along Sutherland Boulevard. A pedestrian crossing takes you safely over the A13 onto Thames Drive, at the bottom of which cross Marine Parade onto Belton Way.  

6. From the top of Belton Way, on a clear day, one can see far up the Thames towards London, with the Gateway container terminal cranes away to the right, the vista passing left over Canvey Island and Two Tree Island, past Leigh and away to Southend Pier (your destination) in the distance on the left. Go down Belton Way to Leigh-on-Sea railway station, then turn right to cross the bridge over the railway. Take the steps immediately on the left (or follow the road for step-free access) and follow the lane beside the railway line. This leads directly into Old Leigh.  

Estuary view at Southend

The walk takes in estuary views - Credit: Simon Taylor

7. On leaving Old Leigh, continue along the lane to its dead-end (there are public toilets here) then continue on the footpath between the waterfront and the railway. After roughly a mile, the path reaches Chalkwell. Hug the seafront and follow it all the way (two miles) to Southend Pier.  

8. At the Pier, cross the road and take the lift or steps up to the entrance to the pedestrianised High Street (or, to avoid all steps, use Pier Hill instead). Continue all the way up the High Street, and at the top, pass through the alleyway between the Victoria shopping centre and the Odeon cinema, to emerge on the road opposite Southend Victoria railway station. 

9. Cross the road and walk up Victoria Avenue, with the station on your right. Follow the straight road for three quarters of a mile back to Priory Park. You will pass the Roots Hall football ground, current home of Southend United, on your left.  

The Essex Way in circular walks: https://www.greatbritishlife.co.uk/things-to-do/walks/the-essex-way-50-year-anniversary-9019610

Outdoorsy hobbies in Essex: https://www.greatbritishlife.co.uk/people/outdoorsy-hobbies-in-essex-8986644