w/c 13 January 2020
I must confess that I enjoyed a brief moment of smug, self-satisfaction after I mentioned to someone that Natural England recently revealed the huge popularity of England’s coastal paths, with 29 million walking trips made during the six-month period up to Boxing Day 2019.
I’ll spare his blushes but my friend sniffily responded to this news, with words to the effect: “I’m not convinced, to be honest. South Essex ain’t Cornwall or Pembrokeshire. Nor even Suffolk. The seven miles of Southend’s coastline are pretty much entirely concrete, so it’s like comparing apples with pears…”
So, imagine my surprise when he emailed me a link to a piece running in a national newspaper last week about ‘Favourite Winter Walks’, which included – you guessed it - Southend.
To be fair, he admitted “what do I know”, as the article recommended starting out from Thorpe Bay and walking along the seafront to Old Leigh, stopping for a pint or lunch in one of the pubs there, before returning to Southend. For a longer stroll, the piece suggested walking to the end of Southend pier, to enjoy the stunning seascapes.
According to Natural England’s research findings, visits to the coast boosted the economy by £350m, with day-trippers spending on average £8.65 per day in coastal shops and overnight visitors spending on average £36.73. In turn, this supports more than 5,900 full-time equivalent jobs along the English coast.
With more people spending their money on experiences rather than stuff, Southend is perfectly positioned to take advantage of this national passion for being beside the seaside. My friend might have scoffed but our coastline is ideal for everyone, whether you’re rambling, riding a bike, pushing a baby buggy, using a wheelchair or mobility scooter. Add to that our huge host of leisure and entertainment venues, plus hotels, cafes, restaurants and bars, what better place could there be to enjoy the great outdoors. Especially when it’s on your doorstep.
- Suzanne Gloyne