Along the Crouch Estuary to Lion Creek
Autumn or winter
Over-wintering birds on the estuary and along the seawall.
Some paths cross arable fields that may be ploughed; electric fences may be in use close to the footpath; wrap up well – it can be very cold on the coast.
Park in Canewdon village
Flat, apart from short steep climb up to the seawall, on well-defined (apart from across the fields on the way back) unsurfaced footpaths; shortish section back to Canewdon along road.
Click on a marker on the map for route details
Stage AB: Canewdon to Crouch Estuary
Follow Canewdon High Street east into Lambourne Hall Road and take the footpath leading up Gays Lane, next to Village Stores. It begins as a hedged track with houses on the left and a play area and playing fields on the right. After the last of the houses a view of the Crouch Estuary opens out before you and it descends, following a grassy verge to an arable field with a gappy hedgerow on the left. At the bottom of the slope you cross two footbridges and turn left alongside a ditch, separated from the pastures on your right by an electric fence. At the end of the electric fence a stile leads on to a grass track, then the path heads diagonally across a patch of rough grassland to pass between Upper Raypits Farm on the left and its barns. Cross two stiles and you reach a third that takes you on to the paved path on top of the seawall.
Stage BC: Upper Raypits Farm to Lower Raypits
Turn right along the seawall. Across the Crouch Estuary on your left is the extensive saltmarsh of Bridgemarsh Island, and on the right are arable fields. Continue for about 40 minutes, by when you should have reached Black Point, beyond which the arable fields on the right give way to the grazing marsh of Lower Raypits, managed as a nature reserve by Essex Wildlife Trust.
Stage CD: Lower Raypits to Lion Creek
Continue along the seawall path. In Lower Raypits' second field it makes a short detour around a breach that occurred in 2007. Where the clay has been excavated to construct the detour a scrape, featuring special water vole islands, and a small saline lagoon have been created. After Lower Raypits there are arable fields on the right, and after a few of these the seawall path meets Lion Creek and turns inland, with the boat moorings of Creeksea and Essex Yacht Marina visible ahead. After following the creek for 200m or so you reach a sign for Lion Creek nature reserve.
Stage DA: Lion Creek to Canewdon
Lion Creek nature reserve consists of a section of creek isolated by a new seawall and is bounded on three sides by the old one. Turn left at the reserve sign to follow the footpath beside the new seawall then alongside an adjoining meadow to come out on the road. Follow the road for 200m alongside an elm hedge, and take a footpath that turns off on the right just beyond a sharp lefthand bend. Follow the track past horse paddocks then through a gate. Detour past a scrubby patch then follow a narrow strip of woodland on the right. At the end of the woodland head for a waymarker half-left across the field, on a footbridge on the verge opposite. From this footbridge look for another waymarker on a footbridge straight on across the next field. Bear slightly left beyond this across the third and much larger field, and you may be half way across before you see the next waymarker on the verge opposite with trees behind, again by a footbridge. Cross a short stretch of field to the next waymarker, then follow the hedge on the left round two sides of an angling lake, joining an access track that takes you down to the road. Turn right on the road and follow it 400m or so back to Canewdon.