SUP route, Benfleet 16k loop – Chalkwell Beach around Two Tree Island to Benfleet and back: 16km…

From the rigging green at Chalkwell Beach, head west (turn right!) into Old Leigh. Pass Essex Yacht Club / HQS Wilton and at Bell Wharf, either cut straight across to Two Tree Island or carry on up the main shipping channel past the pubs in Old Leigh to turn left after  The Crooked Billet. Then either follow the creek around the top of Two Tree, under the road bridge, until you come out onto Hadleigh Ray beyond the salt marshes or head south to go clockwise around the foot of Two Tree. Either way, continue west to Benfleet – (as per Benfleet 8k) turn at the first road bridge, just before the station and head back east, past the slipway at Two Tree. Then, depending on conditions, either straight-line it back to Chalkwell in deep water or for some protection stay close to the shoreline and then paddle back along the beach from Bell Wharf.

Only suitable on the top of the tide or else there’s not enough water to get around the island! Although there’s water at Chalkwell from mid-tide, there’s only enough water at the top of Two Tree in 5.3m+ high tide – not suitable for neap tides. Depending on your speed, set off around an hour (assuming 8kmph) before high tide. Aim to turn in Benfleet as the tide turns. Avoid easterly and southerly winds unless they’re very light as it gets choppy between Chalkwell and Old Leigh, light to moderate offshore north-west to north-easterlies are ideal as the route stays pretty flat, light to moderate westerlies can also be good. Check tide and wind conditions via our SUP weather page…

It can get pretty shallow around the top of Two Tree, so definitely aim to go around the island on the top of the tide (and avoid neaps – 5.3m+ is a decent rule of thumb). Half a km beyond the road bridge, stay left where the creek forks and be careful as there’s some metalwork marking the deep channel. The buoyed deep shipping lane comes in east of Two Tree / Bell Wharf and continues into Leigh Marina: look out for traffic, both leisure and commercial, here and up Hadleigh Ray into Benfleet. Be careful of beach furniture (generally stay offshore of green starboard markers) and mooring lines. On a hot and/or sunny day, an easterly sea breeze can fill in – even if it’s light westerly when you set off – which can seriously chop the water up around Leigh Marsh. Check the wind, weather and tide via our SUP weather page. Don’t forget to pay for parking at Chalkwell (10am to 6pm) as the traffic wardens are pretty efficient!

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