Picture of a boat lying on the shore and the sea in the background.

Foulness Island, Essex’s best kept secret

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. The island 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.

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.

 

Picture of a dirt track covered in moss leading to the sea.

No ordinary island

Picture of a boat lying on the shore and the sea in the background.

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 the jet engine of his Thrust II here before breaking the speed of sound and the old school house is now a heritage centre.

The island is owned by the MOD and has been used for many years for testing of armaments, missiles, torpedoes and ballistics. In the middle of this mayhem lives a small community of about 160m people. The nearest thing to a settlement on the island is Churchend. It has a tiny village store, the only one, a post office and a 19th century church, St Mary’s, built in Gothic style using Kentish ragstone. The only pub closed years ago.

Foulness and the adjoining Maplin Sands are internationally famous as a haven for wildlife. This unpolluted utopia has the second largest colony of Avocets and is a winter home for thousands of wading birds and Brent Geese.

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 the jet engine of his Thrust II here before breaking the speed of sound and the old school house is now a heritage centre.

Explore the island

Picture of the Outside of the building.

Housed in the former school, the two-roomed building is full of displays with archaeological finds dating back to Roman times, cracked urns, tools, wedding gowns and other local artefacts. The Heritage Centre is open from 12 noon till 4pm every first Sunday of the month from April to October. As the island is owned by the MOD, access is restricted to the open days of the heritage centre. For information on visiting please call 01702 217836.

Housed in the former school, the two-roomed building is packed full of display cases showing off archaeological finds dating back to Roman times. For information on visiting please call 01702 217836.

Take a tractor tour

Picture of a tractor ready to go on tour.

Weather permitting you can go on a tractor tour taking in the island's wildlife and external views of some historic buildings. Travelling around gravel roads built on top of ancient sea walls, your guide Peter, who owns a farm on the island and is also head of the Foulness Archaeological Society, will amuse you with a wealth of information and stories of the island.

Weather permitting you can take a tractor tour taking in the island's wildlife and the external views of some historic buildings.

Picture of seals lying along the shores of Wallasea Island.

Join one of the Nature Break Wildlife Cruises and explore the wealth of wildlife in and around Foulness Island and nearby Wallasea Island. The trips are escorted and are suitable for all ages. Either cruise with Brian to parts not accessible by car or you will be driven to prime birdwatching areas, where you can enjoy birds and seals in their own environment without disturbance.

Join one of the Nature Break Wildlife Cruises and explore the wealth of wildlife in and around Foulness Island and nearby Wallasea Island.

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Picture shot from the deck of a boat looking out to the shore.

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Picture of the Discovery boat
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