Foulness Island is Essex's largest island. There is nothing much for tourists to see, due to the restrictions put in place by the UK Ministry of Defence (M.O.D.) regarding access to the island. The island is mostly farmland and is bordered by a sea wall and extensive marshland. The island is roughly 15 miles (25 km) from the coastal town of Southend-on-Sea.
There are two villages on Foulness. The largest one is Churchend and it is just like any other quiet village in Britain. It has a church, post office and general store. Its pub has closed. The church has also closed due to the costs of renovation of the church roof being too expensive.
The second village is Courtsend. It is a tiny village consisting of a farm and a few cottages. There was a second pub in Courtsend but it closed in 1989.
The only access to Foulness Island by road is at Landwick police lodge (about a mile from Great Wakering). Residents are issued with permits, which they must show to security guards when entering the restricted M.O.D. zone. Visitors need to contact the police lodge when visiting the island to obtain a temporary pass, or a visitor can contact a friend or relative who lives on the island, so they can in turn contact the lodge, avoiding the need for long security checks at Landwick. The distance between Great Wakering church and Churchend is around 6 miles (10 km).
Buses are very infrequent and are run by Stephensons of Essex on route 14 from Southend via Barling and Great Wakering. On Mondays to Fridays there are two return service buses per day (one in the morning and one in the evening). On Saturdays there are four return service buses per day (one in the morning, one in mid-morning, one in the afternoon and one in the evening). Because of the restrictions posed by the M.O.D., passengers between Landwick Police Lodge and Courtsend must be M.O.D. permit holders.
- 1 Foulness Island Heritage Centre. First Sunday of month between April and October, noon - 4PM. Just opposite the church in Churchend is the Heritage Centre, which was a school until 1988 and then lay derelict until 2003 when it was reopened as a heritage centre. Visitors must stop at Landwick Police Lodge to sign in their car details and obtain a pass permitting access onto the island to visit the Heritage Centre. The Heritage Centre has displays on the history of the island, old school photos, photos of the last night of the second pub in Courtsend, and even the old plans and protest signs from the time when the government planned London's third airport near the island on Maplin Sands. The centre is run by volunteers who are friendly and always happy to answer questions about the history of the island. They appreciate a donation and feedback in the visitors' book.
There is a small shop in the village of Churchend. The shop is also a Post Office and is used by the residents of Foulness to order their groceries without having to drive to the nearest supermarket (ASDA Shoeburyness, approx. 10 miles away).
Eat and drink
The island used to have two pubs, the George and Dragon in Churchend and a second pub in Courtsend, but they have closed.
Other than staying with a friend or relative who lives on Foulness, there is no accommodation for visitors on the island.
Because the island is under the jurisdiction of the M.O.D., Foulness is extremely safe and there is little or no crime at all on the island. The locals on the island are rumoured to leave their cars and house doors unlocked. There are even regular explosives testing on the island by the M.O.D. so please don't be alarmed when you hear a loud noise and a rumble. M.O.D. staff will often warn you if a practice is going to take place. Please stay away from areas with warning signs as there could be objects that could explode and injure you. On the Shoebury Ranges walk, follow the public right of way (marked with red and white poles in the M.O.D. area).
Foulness Island is suitable for walking but, because of the M.O.D. restrictions, walkers cannot gain routine access to the island. On weekday evenings and all day at weekends, walkers are allowed to enter the M.O.D. site (also known as Shoebury Ranges), but have to follow the public rights of way.