Rainham to Purfleet
A walk down the Thames Estuary
Summer or early autumn
Wild flowers and insects beside the riverside path; birds in the nature reserves and on the river
Noise from the A13 and traffic on the landfill site (weekdays only)
Train to Rainham station (Fenchurch St line) and back from Purfleet (or vice versa)
Predominantly flat on surfaced roads and paths
Click on a marker on the map for route details
Stage AB: Rainham station to Coldharbour Lane
Cross the lines via footbridge or level crossing if eastbound, then cross the footbridge over the Channel Tunnel Rail Link. Follow the access road (Ferry Lane), looking for the Rainham-to-Purfleet path diverging on the left. Follow this surfaced path through the Rainham Marsh Local Nature Reserve, with ponds and scrapes on your left and the road and industry over on your right. Cross a footbridge back on to Ferry Lane and pass under the A13 via the controlled crossings, crossing another footbridge to continue on the Rainham-to-Purfleet path, ignoring a right turn just beyond the footbridge. The path swings right with an embankment ahead, and shortly, via a footbridge, you reach Coldharbour Lane.
Stage BC: Riverside path past landfill site
For the recommended route via the riverside path, turn right after crossing Coldharbour Lane and follow the road signposted to the riverside car park. Walk through the car park and down towards the River Thames, turning left to follow the riverside path, with on your left the former landfill, now covered with grassland and scrub. After passing the transport depot you come to a junction with the more direct route alongside Coldharbour Lane (not so interesting but saving you about half-an-hourﾕs walking).
Stage CD: Riverside path past RSPB reserve
Turn right to continue along the surfaced path or, if you prefer, along the top of the seawall – not such a good surface but with better views over the Thames Estuary. On your left you can see the cattle-grazed marshland, reedbeds, scrapes and hides of the RSPB reserve, and before long you come to the entrance to the RSPB visitor centre and Riverside Cafe.
Stage DE: RSPB reserve to Purfleet station
Beyond the visitor centre, bear right to cross the footbridge across the Mardyke River and follow the riverside path past the housing estate and then the Heritage Centre, and bear left at the London Loop sign to walk up to High Street. Turn right on the road and follow it straight on past the roundabout until you come to Purfleet station on the left.