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Essex Walks: N. Fambridge to Burnham on Crouch

  1. Description
  2. Directions
  3. Photos
  4. History

Description & Map

Title: Fambridge to Burnham
Distance: 10½ miles
Time taken: 4 hours
Location: North Fambridge, nr Burnham-on-Crouch, CM3 6NP
OS Explorer Map: 176 
Grid Ref.: TQ 857 978
Parking: NCP at Station, CM3 6NP
Bus: Taxi only
Train:rail Wickford - Southminster line
Refreshment: North Fambridge: Ferry Boat Inn, Althorne: Three Horseshoes (CM3 6DP)
Burnham on Crouch: The Anchor Hotel, The Star Inn, Cabin Dairy Tearooms
PEAR Rating: PEAR Rating Parking: 1/3 Easiness: 3/3 Amenity: 3/3 Refreshments: 2/3

[Click image to enlarge]

OS map extract 
[Click image to enlarge]

Download and print all 3 for your walk: 1. pdf Download Directions PDF
2. pdf Download PDF photo-set
3. pdf Download Fambridge - Burnham Map PDF
View online on 3 different interactive maps: Link to full screen os map Fambridge - Burnham Map (OS)
Link to full screen Google map Fambridge - Burnham Map (Google)
Bing map Fambridge - Burnham Map (Bing OS 1:25k)
Additional information: gpx GPX track
Elevation View Elevation Profile
Display local weather (toggle on/off) Burnham Weather
Music by kind permission of Mizimo

Walk Description

This tranquil riverside walk is designed for access by train. The Crouch Estuary is a haven for birdlife and heaven for boating enthusiasts. There are great views of unspoilt land either side of the estuary, disturbed only by the cry of seabirds and the occasional hum of a distant train passing along the valley floor.

Starting at North Fambridge Railway Station, the walk goes past the Owl Cam at Blue House Farm, and onto the sea wall by Fambridge Marina. If a 5 mile walk is your limit you can divert at Althorne Marina to Althorne Train Station, also on the Southminster Line. From Althorne, the path continues on the sea wall with views of wading birds and the changing landscape of the Crouch estuary. The terrain is flat apart from a small section inland at "The Cliff" and Creeksea. After walking around the Burnham Yacht Harbour, the walk ends on The Quay where there is a selection of fine hostelries.
This walk is ideally suited to a relaxing day out by letting the train take the strain: Essex Train Stations rail


pdfDownload Description & Directions PDF here

A. Exit North Fambridge railway station and head south towards Fambridge Road (1). Continue south for a quarter of a mile and take the gravel path which forks left from the bend in the road (2).
B. Check out the Owl Cam at Blue House Farm, before taking the gate to its right (3). Follow the field edge path for 230 yards to a field gate, and head south to the steps up on to the seawall (4). On the seawall, turn left and head east.
C. After about a mile and a half the path heads north east around Bridgemarsh Island, another Site of Special Scientific Interest (5).
D. Eventually you come to some signs of human habitation, which is Althorne. If you want to return via Althorne train station, which is a third of a mile north of the Creek, turn left (6) at the marina, up the track past 'Papillon'.
E. Alternatively, press on towards Burnham on Crouch. After a quarter of a mile, the path turns north around an inlet (7). At the end of the inlet, a gate to the right enables you to carry on along the side of the estuary.
F. Carry on walking along the river. After two-thirds of a mile, the path heads inland and ascends the Cliff. As you descend, you will see gap between the hedgeline by a small jetty, where you can pick up the seawall path again (8).
G. Two thirds of a mile after this, the path again heads inland, where you turn left down some steps to a gate (9). Pass along the field edge heading east.
H. Exit the field through a gate, and turn right on a track towards the marina. Carry on east along the coastal footpath (10).
I. Go inland through Burnham Yacht Harbour and return to the river walk into Burnham on Crouch. From there, tea rooms by the War Memorial (11) and pubs are available on or near The Quay.
J. The train station can be found by joining the High Street and walking north west to join Station Road (12). The station is approximately three-quarters of a mile from The Quay.

pdf Download Description & Directions PDF here


Download PDF photo-set here pdf
North Fambridge to Althorne
1 Fambridge Road 2 Fork 3 Blue House Farm
4 Seawall 5 Bridgemarsh Island 6 Station Road, Althorne
Althorne to Burnham-on-Crouch
7 Inlet 8 Cliff 9 inland
10Leaving Ferry Road 11left 12Station Road
Views on the Way
    Grey Heron     Crouch     Crouch Estuary near Fambridge
    Borrow dyke     Crouch     Crouch Estuary near Fambridge
    Farm     Crouch     Crouch Estuary near Fambridge
    Marina     Crouch Estuary near Fambridge     Sailing
    Yachts     Crouch     Burnham-on-Crouch


North Fambridge

Essex Map 1745

Fambridge was originally a single settlement spanning either side of the Crouch. In the Domesday Book in 1086, it is recorded as 'Phenbruge', and later 'Fanbridge' possibly meaning 'bridge over the foam'. In 1066 a bridge over the estuary consisted of two spans, making use of a mud bank in the centre of the river. Signs of what appear to be the clearly marked wooden reinforced edges of a ford can be seen at low tide. Exactly when the ferry was introduced is uncertain but it is known that there was a ferry when the Earl of Warwick was patron of Holy Trinity Church between the years 1331 and 1465, and it continued operating until the 1940s.

It is possible that The Fambridge Ferry or Bridge could have been on the route of a Roman Road, an important crossing point over the estuary linking Prittlewell, a key settlement on the Thames estuary, with Maldon. Fambridge is situated along the route from Prittlewell and Leigh on Sea to Maldon, where there was a Roman port, then via Tiptree to the Roman capital "Camulodunum" (Colchester). Early maps of Essex indicate the importance of South Fambridge. A map of 1745 shows a major road crossing the River Crouch along a line of towns from Colchester to Fambridge to Maldon and south via Rochford to 'Milton', a parish on the Thames Estuary, neighbouring Prittlewell.


The River Crouch

Arising from springs at Little Burstead the Crouch River becomes the 17.5 mile River Crouch Navigation at the bridge in Battlesbridge.

Black-tailed Godwits The complex of salt marsh, grazing marsh and intertidal habitats is an important coastal habitat especially as feeding and roosting sites for large numbers of waders and waterfowl. Wintering Dark-bellied Brent Geese regularly occur in large numbers, while Black-tailed Godwit , Shelduck and Shoveler regularly over-winter there. In addition, the intertidal mud along the Crouch and Roach is used by Redshank and Dunlin for feeding and as a roosting site for up to 10,000 Lapwing and 6,000 Golden Plover.

A sea wall protects the fields from the tidal river Crouch. The ditch behind the sea wall, known as the borrowdyke, was dug to provide clay for the construction of the sea wall. Some seawater seeps through the wall into the borrowdyke,encouraging brackish water plants such as sea club rush,soft hornwort and brackish water crowfoot to grow.
In 1897 a high surge tide similar to that of 1953 breached the sea wall and flooded the farmland including parts of the 600 acres SSSI Blue House Farm. Two breaches are still evident today as the large bays along the sea walls known locally as the 'horseshoes'. Lines of wooden stakes are visible at low tide, they mark attempts to rebuild the wall along its original line. This was unsuccessful, the sea walls had to be built further inland. A similar fate fell to Bridgemarsh Island, also now a SSSI, where there was farmland and 19th century brick and tile works. Human habitation finally ceased after floods in 1928.


The Crouch Valley Railway Line

Usually called the Southminster Line, the Crouch Valley line is a branch line built in 1889 running 16.5 miles from Southminster to Wickford. The line was built by Great Eastern Railway opening to goods traffic on 1 June 1889 and to passengers a month later. Over 500 navvies were involved in the construction which cost a total of nearly 1/2 million pounds. The line took about two years to build with materials shipped in to a quay at Stokes Hall, Althorne by Thames barge from brick fields in Kent. The line escaped closure in the 1960s by Beeching, as it was used to supply the nearby Bradwell Power Station.



Burnham Yacht Harbour

Although a small town of 7,500, Burnham-on-Crouch hosts a large sailing event known as 'Burnham Week'. This takes place annually, in the last week of August. The week includes competitive yacht and dinghy racing on the River Crouch. The event is shared among the four established sailing clubs in Burnham: The Royal Corinthian Yacht Club, The Royal Burnham Yacht Club, The Crouch Yacht Club, and The Burnham Sailing Club. This annual yacht regatta traces its history back to 1893. The Thames had become too polluted and busy for the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club, so in 1892 it moved its base from Erith to Burnham. A year later the club organised a regatta with Hammersmith Sailing Club and so began the annual tradition.