Day out in Southend-On-Sea

Posted on July 20, 2016 by Toothpicker There have been 0 comments

southend on sea

 

Given the proximity of Essex to London, it is surprising how the county is often overlooked by Londoners. Is it because of our biases and stereotypical images of the area and its residents? Londoners would rather visit Kent, Hampshire, Sussex, or Suffolk if they need a short getaway... Essex is quite low on their lists. And from the Brexit results, we can assume that London and Essex definitely don't see eye to eye in politics.

When my friends and I were planning a day hike/ walk from London, one of them suggested hiring bicycles to cycle along the promenade of Southend on Sea. It only occurred to me then that I have never visited that area before, or most of Essex for that matter. I was quite curious.

 

southend on sea

southend on sea

shoeburyness

Shoeburyness

 

None of us have visited Southend on Sea before, and we bought our group saver tickets from Fenchurch Street station – which none of us have used before this occasion either! And just over an hour later, we arrived in Shoeburyness, the mouth of the Thames Estuary.

The day didn't start off well for us. First of all, the weather wasn't exactly summery – it was grey, drizzly, and very windy! Then we found out the bicycle hire shop was closed... on Sundays! We had no option but to walk.

In the 19th century, Shoeburyness was a garrison town housing the Royal Artillery and Gunnery schools. Nowadays, the Shoebury Garrison is recognised as an area of national importance and is protected - much of it as a conservation area. Many of the historical buildings are listed and protected by English Heritage as scheduled ancient monuments, while others have been converted into luxury houses.

As we walked along the seafront, we came across the derelict Heavy Quick Firing Battery built in 1899; the military history here is discernible, which makes the area more interesting than many other coastal towns in the U.K. If I were to visit Southend on Sea again, I would probably spend my time here rather than the Central part.

 

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Southend on Sea Central

 

As we approached the Central part, the subdued vibe was replaced by noisy theme park rides and crowds on the pier. There was also a vintage and classic car show with rows of shiny and well-polished cars on display.

Walking along the seafront esplanade, the scenery reminded me much of photographer Martin Parr's iconic British seaside images. Although it is more vibrant than some coastal towns like Hastings; the tacky amusement arcades and casinos are sad reminders of the decline of the British seaside resorts over the past decades.

The biggest attraction of the seafront is its 19th century Grade II listed pier – the longest (1.34 miles/2.16 km) in the world. Over the years, the pier had suffered from fire, crashes, collapse and closures; and after continuous redevelopment by the local council, it was reopened in 2012. We found it odd to have to pay £2 per person to walk on the pier, and so we decided to skip it.

 

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Finally, after walking for 11 miles (with lunch and coffee breaks along the route), we reached the calmer Chalkwell and headed back to London by train.

Ironically, as soon as we boarded, the grey clouds above our heads all day suddenly subsided and the sun decided to pop out to tease us! I guess one can learn much about life through nature especially the British weather – which is always unpredictable and inconsistent. And since we are all powerless against it, we have to just accept or even laugh about it, which was what we did on our way back to sunny London.

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This post was posted in Travel, Hiking & walking, Britain and was tagged with walks, seaside, Southend on sea

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