South Woodham Ferrers
Circuit through Woodham Fen and Marsh Farm
Summer or winter
Wild flowers, insects and songbirds in Woodham Fen and Marsh Farm in summer; wintering birds there and in the creeks.
Paths can be very muddy in winter; very exposed along the seawall – check the forecast and take warm clothing.
Train to South Woodham Ferrers (hourly service from Shenfield) or park at Marsh Farm country park.
Flat, except for short steep climbs on and off the seawall and road embankment; well-defined, mostly unsurfaced, footpaths; lengthy walk on roads back to the station.
Click on a marker on the map for route details
Stage AB: SWF station to Woodham Fen
Cross the station car park half left into Tanners Way and follow the footpath that runs alongside it, then continues straight on as Tanners Way turns right. Continue with houses on the right until you meet the road embankment. Turn right for a short way then left through an underpass. You emerge into Woodham Fen nature reserve: follow the path across to a footbridge, which brings you on to the track running roughly north-south down the centre of the reserve. Turn left and follow it across the railway then down through marshland stretching between two creeks. Soon the path converges with the creek on your left and you cross it by footbridge and turn right by the sewage works to follow the footpath until you come to junction of the two creeks, which is where Woodham Fen nature reserve ends.
Stage BC: Woodham Fen to Marsh Farm
Continue beside Fenn Creek until you come to a gate, at which you bear left past Eyotts Farm, then bear left again to rejoin the footpath beyond it, marked with white-topped posts and running inside the beginnings of a seawall. After an open flood storage basin on your left then a strip of scrub and trees a footpath turns off left. Follow it through a gate with a strip of trees continuing on your left and grazing marsh opening out on your right. The path makes its way past a wet patch with reeds then leads on to the road via a gate. Opposite is a track leading into Marsh Farm and a short way up to the left is the entrance to the car park. Make your way through the car park towards the Marsh Farm visitor centre.
Stage CD: Marsh Farm seawall and River Crouch
Turn left on to a grass track just before the visitor centre, marked 'Country Park walks', and follow it past the play area, sheds and paddocks of Marsh farm and out on to the track that leads east across the country park. Cross to a gate immediately opposite and follow the path down to the seawall. Climb up on to the seawall and turn left to follow it beside the River Crouch. After 1500m or so a footpath turns off on the left leading across the grazing marsh towards a seawall only 200m or so away opposite. Go down from the seawall and follow this path across. (If you want to continue enjoying views of birds on the grazing marsh and estuary, you can walk the 2km or so along the seawall to reach the same point).
Stage DE: Clementsgreen Creek
As you come up on the seawall, you see opposite the mudflats and islands of an area of eroded grazing marsh, once protected by a seawall that was breached in 1953 and never repaired, replaced by the wall you are on now. Turn left to follow the seawall path past the lagoons and reedbeds of the nature area on your left. As you bear right along the seawall Clementsgreen Creek comes into view, an inlet that once gave access to a creek running north that has been blocked by a new seawall that you will reach shortly.
Stage EF: Clementsgreen Creek to Ferrers Road
The seawall path turns sharp right where the former creek has been blocked and, as you prefer, you can either follow the seawall path or go straight ahead down on to a path (very muddy in winter) along a lower counterwall that meanders alongside the basin of the former creek, now a mosaic of pools, reedbeds, marsh and scrub. The two paths join again north of a lake, created by a dam across the centre of the basin, and from here a footpath runs down off the seawall across playing fields, to the right of the car park and service buildings. At the railway which runs across to the north it turns sharp left and leads to steps up the embankment to Ferrers Road.
Stage FA: Return to station
Cross Ferrers Road and turn right to follow it down to the roundabout, turning left to follow Hamberts Road through the industrial area. After 400m turn left into King Edwards Road, which after 800m or so joins Hullbridge Road. South Woodham Ferrers station is about 50m down to the left.