SUP Chalkwell Beach, Leigh-on-Sea, Essex

 

As possibly the most accessible sandy beach to London, Chalkwell can get understandably busy on a sunny summer’s day – and the eye-watering parking charges certainly reflect that! But time it well and it can be a decent place to paddle in the right conditions – it’s just 20 minutes or so up to the pubs in Old Leigh, keep going for the 10km ‘super-lap’ round Two Tree Island and back, or stay put for some splashing about straight off the beach…

Chalkwell has water during the top half of the tide – within 2.5 hours of high tide is ideal. Flooding tide brings a little cross-shore current pushing west towards Old Leigh, although this is also often when the water is at its choppiest. The water tends to flatten off as the tide ebbs, although this does mean a much stronger current drawing east, towards Southend Pier. Check out our SUP Weather section for the latest…

Easterly wind can produce big rolling chop. This beach is fully exposed to southerlies, prevailing south-westerlies, and westerly winds too, so tends to chop up if there’s much breeze about (which can be fun but isn’t ideal for going anywhere). Chalkwell is at its best for paddling with little or no wind whatsoever, although under the shelter of the cliffs, northerlies will mean dead-flat water and very little wind close inshore. Check out our SUP Weather section for the latest…

The paid parking has got significantly more expensive lately (£3 an hour! Although thankfully it’s now back to 8am to 6pm, allowing evening paddles again. It’s worth considering an £12.50pm Southend Pass if you’re visiting regularly during the daytime…) But on the plus side, facilities are good – there are two cafés, toilets, even cold water showers available within 100m. If you’re tempted with an early morning paddle from Chalkwell, please be mindful of the local residents and minimise noise (ie; don’t use an electric pump at unsociable hours!)

From the London Road (A13), drive south down Chalkwell Avenue, under the railway bridge, turn right down Chalkwell Esplanade where the road meets the coast, then park 200m on the left… Nearest postcode, SS0 8JH – recommended launch, what3words.com/blame.couch.finely