Running route – RSPB Purfleet Rainham Marshes

When going through a self doubt stage I always revert back to what I know, its safe and easy.

This going for running routes too.

So one Sunday I got up, it was raining but the weather was promising some sun.  By the time I got to RSPB Purfleet the sun was breaking through, it was going to be a good day.

RSPB Purfleet is by the Rainham Marshes, it is rich in history, an area that dates back to ice age.  Due to its location by the river and London the area was used for trade most importantly gunpowder deliveries, ships would dock there and be loaded with people and the explosives for onward sailing.  Farmers grazed their cattle along the river, the soil rich from the Thames.  Pilgrims from Canterbury would use the ferry that would dock at Rainham, making their way to London by foot or horse.  In 1906 the land was purchased by The War Office and land was used by the military for many years as a firing range, then as a dumping ground and then neglected.  RSPB took it over in 2000 and made it into what you see today; a reserve that is rich with nature, birdlife, water animals and land animals habit this Essex reserve side by side

The start of the route from car park.

The popular route is along the Thames, its approx 5 miles full round trip but there is a path back to the start that can cut the route shorter if you are not up to 5 miles.

The route is well signposted, it is very difficult to get lost if you stick to the paths.

One of the signposts, nice and clear.

There are also some distance markers along the route so you are able to see how far you are from the cafe in the reserve.

This is also part of a bigger cycle network that runs from before Hornchurch down.  As a result if you want to cycle then run it is pretty easy to organise and get to.  Also useful if you wish to do a bigger run – just follow this network.

Cycle network, really useful.

The weather had really improved and had become very warm, the last half of the route for me was getting hard, the Thames was sparkling in the sunshine and the route although not crowded was busy with other joggers, cyclists, dog walkers and birdwatchers.  The air sometimes kicks up a smell, a throwback to the time it was used as a dumping ground, and every now and then you will see a tube sticking up from the ground allowing the gases that have collected from the rubbish underground to escape.  The warmer the wether the more you will smell that smell.

The path runs alongside the Thames.

The paths are mostly tarmac with a tiny bit that is gravel, this can be avoided if you are uneasy on gravel as there is another tarmac path that runs alongside.  There are also some gates and bike barriers to consider, they don’t really slow you down they are there more for the cyclists to dismount and go through.

Most of the route is accessible if you need a walking aid or in a chair, and there are plenty of benches if you need a rest.

My run ended after one loop which amounted to a tad over 6 miles.  The visit to the cafe is always worthwhile, be prepared to mingle with bird watchers and nature lovers.  Prices in the cafe are pretty reasonable and it is always nice to recover with tea and cake.


If you are looking for an accessible running/walking route that has plenty to look at then I would recommend this, it is industrial and nature all in one.  For more information please click here.


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