It's national 'get moving week' and if you're feeling inspired this weekend we've got some brilliant short walks to enjoy around Southend without breaking lockdown rules.

We're lucky to live right on the sea which means we have miles of glorious coastline to explore right on our doorstep.

Whether it's a new priority to get out and move your body, be it because of working from home and being sat down all day or escaping the house for a moment alone, away from home schooling - exercise has become our solace. 

The benefits of being active far exceed just the physical changes your body may see. 

The emotional benefits of getting outside in the fresh air and enjoying some gentle exercise can make a huge difference to our mental health, especially for people who suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD) in the winter months. 

SAD is a form of depression that comes and goes with the season. As the sun sets and stays down, so does a person's mood.

However exercise releases endorphins, which are hormones that reduce pain and increase feelings of well-being. In addition, exercise increases your metabolism, which helps to improve your energy levels.

Due to the national lockdown gyms are closed and we are only permitted to leave the house for essential shopping or once daily for exercise. 

You can exercise in a public outdoor space: 

- by yourself

- with the people you live with

- with your support bubble (if you are legally permitted to form one)

- in a childcare bubble where providing childcare

- or, when on your own, with one person from another household

You don't need to start running marathons or doing circuits, but a gentle 30-minute walk is enough to see positive changes in both your mind and body whilst adhering to lockdown rules.

Here are some of our favourite walks to enjoy in and around Southend:

The Saffron Trail: 

Now, this is most definitely not a short walk if you were to complete the entire trail. 

However this trail is home to abundant beauty and can be altered to suit any time and distance - why not set yourself the challenge of completing the whole walk section by section? 

In total the trail is 12 and a half miles long, taking approximately five hours to complete. This can be separated up into 30 minute or one hour trails to set every walker - we recommend walking 1.5km per day. 

Starting at Pier Hill you can park in The Royals multi-storey car park following the postcode SS1 1DG. 

This trail is brilliant for people looking to enjoy a variety of walks and by doing this route section-by-section you can get a good variety of coast, parkland, woodland and farmland.

The route will take you through Hadleigh Castle Country Park and through residential areas of both Hadleigh and Rayleigh which are suitable sections for people with prams and in wheelchairs as the walk is along tarmac paths. 

There are bus routes at different sections along the path making the Saffron Trail a fantastic walking route to complete throughout lockdown. 

Priory Park:


Lovingly described as the "jewel in Southend's crown", the manicured gardens of Priory Park in the town centre is a tranquil space to enjoy a daily walk.

The formal gardens have a stunning bandstand, rose garden, and woodland which is home to an abundance of wildlife. 

All of the paths are flat and concreted making this a great route for those of us with pushchairs or wheelchairs. 

Parking is available but the park and walled gardens are easily accessible from the town center. 

Hadleigh Great Wood and Dodds Grove:

The gorgeous Hadleigh Great Wood is just a 20-minute walk from Leigh-on-Sea train station - however you should not travel outside your local area, but you can travel a short distance within your area to exercise if necessary.

One review noted that the reserve is "a great place to be able to escape" for lovely walks without being worried about lots of people around during the pandemic.

Home to an abundance of wildlife, especially squirrels, the woodland is a wonderful place for people of all ages to enjoy, well-behaved dogs are also welcome. 

The site can be accessed from Poors Lane which runs along the woodland making it easy to walk just a short route or great for those who fancy a longer ramble.

Southend to Leigh-on-Sea:


Image - Unsplash

Is there anything better than a gorgeous coastal stroll? 

With a distance of approximately three miles between Southend and Leigh, this walk is straightfoward and easy on a bright sunny day due to being completely flat. 

The walk allows you to take in our golden sandy beaches and fresh sea air which in turn will help to lift your mood and clear your head of any 'covid-fog'.

Walking on the beach itself can help you achieve more health benefits than walking on the path as it's more difficult due to your feet moving around in the sand- which means that your muscles and tendons need to work harder. 

It also puts less pressure on your joints, knees and feet than walking on a harder surface.

If you feel like walking a bit further it's always easy to do whilst  on the beach as it's a lot more enjoyable than walking in a built-up area. 

Southend Cliff Gardens:

If you are looking for an easy walk with lots of places to sit and take in some of our epic estuary views then the Cliff Gardens are the ideal place to visit. 

Walk from your home to the gardens and enjoy the peaceful and tranquil views across the estuary out towards Kent. 

Fantastic on a clear and sunny day, or just after sunrise - the views at the cliff gardens are really everything it's about, just make sure you wrap up warm. 

Gunners Park and Nature Reserve: 

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Gunners Park and Reserve is seeped in history and is a fantastic place to witness the wonder of bird migration throughout the year. 

A great location to enjoy a coastal walk, the park is accessible for all and incorporates the Shoebury Old Ranges site and Coastguard Station Grounds local wildlife site. 

The area has more than 12 habitats to walk through, from coastal grassland and a large pond to remnant sand dunes and historic military buildings.

A range of species thrive here including the nationally scarce sandwich click beetle, bulbous meadow grass and the cuckoo wasp so keep your eyes peeled. 

Due to its proximity to the Thames Estuary, Gunners Park is the ideal habitat for migrating birds on passage to and from the UK, including ring ouzel, spotted flycatcher, wheatear, whinchat and even yellow-browed warbler.

Why not take a look at the RSPB's guide to birdwatching and take your walk to the next level? 

Let us know how exercise has benefitted you during lockdown in the comments.