SUP Canvey Island (Lobster Smack), Essex

On the south-west tip of Canvey Island, the Lobster Smack Inn (as featured in the Dickens novel Great Expectations and popularly known as “The World’s End” in the 18th century!) is beside the island’s most useful launch. The infamous marshes here are pretty industrial these days, and the water is extremely tidal and can get pretty choppy, so paddling Holehaven Creek beneath the refineries isn’t for the inexperienced or feint-hearted… But it’s certainly different, and can come into its own in light easterly winds. Definitely head north (turn right, away from the Thames shipping lane!) up to the top of Canvey Island or beyond up Vange Creek to Wat Tyler.

Stick to high tide and ideally slack water – certainly within a couple of hours of high. Flood tide pushes a current north towards the ‘mainland’, whereas ebb tide pulls out towards the Thames’ main shipping lane (not somewhere you want to be on a paddleboard, even if you were allowed to be – which you aren’t as far as the Port of London Authority are concerned!) Therefore head north (turn right) on a flooding tide first, then come back as the tide begins to ebb. The tidal currents are pretty strong, particularly on an outgoing tide towards the mouth of the creek. This area, from the launch to beyond the refinery bridge, usually sees some awkward chop after the tide turns too.

Although it can be windless and flat, Holehaven Creek is quite a big basin so just a bit of wind in any direction can chop it up surprisingly quick! Even an easterly breeze can wrap southerly into the mouth of the creek to blow a fair bit of chop in under the refinery bridge. Probably best in light northerly to north-easterly winds – although it’s most useful in true easterlies when pretty much everywhere else can be properly exposed but Canvey Island protects the water here to a degree (although as it’s mainly below sea level, it won’t offer all that much shelter!) Quite open to westerlies too, and worth avoiding in southerlies. Check out our SUP Weather section for the latest…

Free parking in the smaller public car-park beside the main Lobster Smack parking area (which is for customers only). Walk west down the track behind the pub to get to the slipway. All the usual pub facilities – drink, food and toilets – are available to customers at the Lobster Smack Inn, where we’d definitely recommend a drink afterwards!

Drive onto Canvey Island either via Benfleet / Canvey Road or the A130 / Canvey Way, then basically stay right! Follow Roscommon Way south before turning right onto Haven Road and follow it to the end. Postcode: SS8 0NR