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Foulness Island


Foulness is the largest of the Essex islands and the fourth largest island off the coast of England. It is located near Southend-on-Sea and its vast and lonely stretches of isolated marshland are a stark contrast to the hustle and bustle of Essex favourite seaside resort. Foulness is divided from the mainland by a myriad of tidal waterways and is bound by the River Crouch to the north, the River Roach to the west and the North Sea on the east. There are two villages located on the north side of the island, Churchend and Courtsend, and the total population is around 200.


Foulness Island, heritage centre, the village church, the old pub, the oldest brick building and the owl barn.

Foulness is no ordinary island. People here call ditches upside down hedges; Hill House was built on the highest point of the island, an amazing 6 feet high; Richard Noble tested here the jet engine of his Thrust II before breaking the speed of sound and the old school house is now a heritage centre.

Foulness Heritage Centre is the brainchild of retired defence contractor Bob Crump. Together with many volunteers and many hours of hard work the centre opened in February 2003. 

"We are so proud and pleased of what we've got here, not only from our own work, but from the interest shown by the residents of Foulness Island who have come out and given us so many artefacts that relate to the industrial and personal life on Foulness over many many years," said Bob.

There are even artifacts from the Roman period which were discovered by Bob and his team when they unearthed a 2,000-year-old Romano-British settlement.

The Heritage Centre is open from 12 noon till 4pm every first Sunday of the month from April to October. Because the island is owned by the Ministry of Defence the access is restricted to the general public. You are however, very welcome to visit during the open days of the heritage centre.

Click here to download the Foulness Island Heritage Centre leaflet.



Foulness Heritage Centre, artifacts of local life inluding Roman artifacts.


The island's name derives from 'fulga-naess', the old English for 'wild birds nest'.  Foulness and the adjoining Maplin Sands are internationally famous as a haven for wildlife. It has the second largest colony of Avocets and is a winter home for thousands of wading birds and Brent Geese.

Brian, from Nature Break, offers you the opportunity to explore the wealth of wildlife in and around Foulness Island and nearby Wallasea Island. The trips are escorted and are suitable for all ages.

With his boat you can cruise to parts not accessible by car or on foot where we can enjoy birds and seals in their own environment without disturbance. The main cruises are generally 4 hours but due to popular demand 2 hour cruises to view the Wallasea Wetlands and sail round into the River Roach have also been introduced when the tide is suitable. You can also visit prime birdwatching areas by mini coach/coach where passengers can sit back and enjoy the journey and arrive relaxed.

For more information please visit Brian's website.


North shore of Foulness Island with splendid views of the River Crouch.


Traditional Charter offer bespoke birdwatching tours, seal trips and wildlife tours tailored to suit your requirements whether be it a day trips or longer.

The East Coast provides a variety of sandbanks, estuaries and creeks rich in birds and wildlife: rivers include the River Blackwater, River Colne, Orwell, (Ipswich and Pin Mill), Stour, Alde, Deben, Thames Estuary, plus the varied birding habitats of Orfordness, Mersea Island, Osea Island, Walton Backwaters, and Tollesbury Marshes.

For more information please speak to Michael on 07811 469505 or visit his website.


Traditional Charter - bespoke birdwatching tours, seal trips and wildlife tours tailored to suit your requirements - day trips or longer.

The Lady Essex III runs from Essex Marina, Wallasea with regular seal and wildlife trips and also a ferry service to and from the pubs and restaurants at Burnham Town Quay.

The trips run to either one of the two seal colonies. You are expected to see the seals hauled out on the banks as well as in the water depending on the various states of the tide. In fact they are often as interested in us as we are in them and they will come surprisingly close to the boat. On quite a number of these trips you will be accompanied by an expert guide from the RSPB, who will be able to give a very interesting and enlightening commentary as well as being able to answer your questions. The guide will also point out all of the different bird species that you will see.

All trips must be pre booked by calling 01702 258666. For more information please visit the website.



Lady Essex seal watching trips. Link through to the Lady Essex website. Opens in new window.
Essex County Council
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