Walking: Southend to Canvey Island
I walked from Southend to Canvey Island taking photos and recording sound along my path.
Southend early in the morning is very quiet. Some people heading for the station, shuttered shops, a muddy beach and the funfair. The funfair was also shuttered, the pier too so I began walking west hoping to find somewhere to stop for breakfast. The seafront was even quieter than the town centre — just me, a handful of joggers and a couple of OAPs. It was windy and the sun was beginning to rise and get hot.
Southend eventually runs out of steam and turns into marshes and a nature reserve. I spoke to a man with two dogs. The nature reserve follows a muddy inlet across from which is Canvey Island. Everything was much further apart than it seemed on the map, it was nearly midday.
Canvey Island doesn’t even seem to be an island, there’s a long boring road that runs through the centre down to the sea wall. About half way there’s a pretty run down collection of shops and a shopping arcade. In the shopping arcade was a Peacocks, a Sainsbury’s and half a dozen long abandoned retail units. I visited Sainsbury’s to steal a drop of sun cream.
The application of sun cream coincided with the sun disappearing and by the time I reached the sea wall it was beginning to rain. Following the wall around the island I eventually reached a huge caravan park that sits about 1 meter below sea level, a storm was brewing. Next to the caravan park is a Gasworks, I’m not sure if it was still active, some of the buildings were falling apart and in the time it took me to walk the perimeter I didn’t see one other person.
Past the gas works is another nature reserve. I get the feeling this nature reserve is more a brownfield site that can’t be built on. Across the water is a huge gas facility and more of the big cylindrical storage units. I eventually found my way out of the nature reserve and hopped the fence. The storm finally hit as I crossed an unusually quiet dual carriageway and I took shelter in a large Morrison’s before taking the train back to London, it was just before 5pm.