Leigh-on-Sea is a beautiful old fishing port on the London side of Southend on the south coast of Essex. Visitor venues in Leigh can be divided into three zones. The two key points for visitors are firstly the old town, by the sea, with its pubs, eateries and a very small beach. Secondly the Broadway - the high street at the top of the hill, with independent shops, bars and restaurants.
Annual events in Leigh typically revolve around one or both of these hubs.
Lastly, you have the London Road, less glamorous, but home to a few popular pubs, bars and restaurants, including one in the Michelin Guide.
Twice voted the Happiest Place to Live in Great Britain in Rightmove's "Happy at Home Index" 2016 and 2018, the town boasts a vibrant shopping hub, bars, restaurants, heritage, and a variety of open spaces from parks to nature reserves.
Visitors flock to the old town in the summer to enjoy the long and balmy summer evenings with a pint and some seafood, watching the sun set over Canvey Island. The tide goes out for miles (hence the need for neighbouring Southend's record breaking pleasure pier.
From London Fenchurch Street (London's most hidden away terminus), take the c2c train to Leigh-on-Sea. It's about 45–50 minutes, so long as you take the direct train (via Basildon). Tilbury Loop trains take about 20 minutes more, and are best avoided.
If you stay on the A13 travelling east from London, you'll arrive in Leigh. Alternatively, at the Saddlers Farm Interchange, follow the signs to Southend and turn off when you see signs to Leigh-on-Sea.
The old town is best enjoyed on foot. There are car parks at the station and off Belton Way. On quieter days, you can actually park next to the beach in the old town, but at popular times, you've no chance. The old town is not pedestrianised, so keep an eye open for slow moving cars as you stroll down the cobbled street.
The Broadway is a busy high street, with few parking restrictions. The 21, 21B and 26 bus run through town and may be a better option.
Buses run along the London Road. Google Maps has fully integrated public transport help in this area, but if you'd rather check routes and timetables, you'll need to look at the websites for each of the bus companies:
- 1 St. Clements Church. The oldest part of the church is the circa 14th-century North Aisle which resembles the inverted hull of a ship and is thought to have been constructed by the old boat builders of medieval Leigh.
- 2 Hadleigh Castle. Ruined 1200s castle, refortified by Edward III in the Hundred Years War, affording marsh views. £0.
- 3 Strand Wharf, Strand Wharf, High St, Leigh-on-Sea SS9 2EN. Outdoor space for annual community events.
- Leigh-on-Sea Heritage Trail. Take a step back into the past and tread in the footsteps of Elizabethan mariners, artists and open-air preachers.
- [formerly dead link] Prittle Brook Greenway. Walk or cycle the Greenway
- 1 Bike Art Hadleigh Demo And Hire, Hadleigh Park, Hadleigh, SS7 2PP, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. M-F 9AM-5PM, Sa Su 9AM-6PM. See the 2012 Olympic Mountain Bike course that was designed to test the best athletes in the world. Over 18 km of trail to suit all abilities and ages. Strongly recommended to reserve your hire bike a minimum of 24 hours ahead to avoid disappointment.
- 2 Essex Wildlife Trust Belfairs Woodland Centre, Eastwood Road North, Leigh-on-Sea, SS9 4LR. The Woodland Centre provides a space for schools, groups and families to learn about south Essex’s fantastic ancient woodlands in an interactive way.
- 3 Leigh Golf Range and Cafe, Two Tree Island, Leigh-on-Sea SS9 2SN.
- Leigh Folk Festival, ✉ email@example.com. Taking place leading up to and including the last weekend of June, The Leigh Folk Festival is unchallenged as the UK’s largest free folk gathering taking place across more than 20 indoor and outdoor venues around the town. All daytime events on Saturday take place in and around the Library Gardens on Broadway West. All events on Sunday take place in and around the High Street of Old Leigh. Free.
- Leigh Art Trail, around Leigh. Showcasing the work of local contemporary artists & designers between the second and third Saturdays in June.
- Leigh Regatta, Strand Wharf. Held on the second Sunday in September with sailing races, pig races, rowing races, a dinghy tug-o-war, art competitions, face-painting, shanty-singers, clog-dancers and pirates as well as Punch and Judy, barbecues and sweet stalls. Story-telling for children and a Seaside Stage complete with deck-chairs and real ale bar alongside a selection of craft stalls.
The Broadway in Leigh has many independent retailers. The Broadway is bounded by the triangle at Rectory Grove to the west, and Leigh Road to the east.
- 1 Zinc, 59-61 Broadway, Leigh-on-Sea SS9 1PE, ☏ . Men's clothes shop.
On the London Road
- 2 Mad Dogs & Englishmen Interiors, 1349-1353 London Rd, Leigh-on-Sea, SS9 2AB, ☏ . Furniture and accessories.
The Old Town
- Simply Seafood.
- 1 Osbourne Bros. A unique, family-run seafood café in Old Leigh.
- 2 The Boatyard, 8/13 High St, Leigh-on-Sea, SS9 2EN, ☏ . Thursday to Saturday lunch & evening service and Sunday lunch. Premier dining.
- 3 The Mayflower Chip Shop - Restaurant, 5 & 6 High Street, Leigh-on-Sea, SS9 2EN, ☏ . Traditional English fish-and-chips.
The Old Town
- 1 The Crooked Billet (The Billet). Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) pub popular with visitors looking for traditional British ales.
- 2 The Peter Boat. Dockside pub with large beer garden.
- 3 Ye Olde Smack. Live bands and a pub quiz every Thursday.
- 4 The Mayflower, 5 & 6 High Street, Leigh-on-Sea, SS9 2EN, ☏ . 11AM-11PM. Another Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) pub with its own in-house fish-and-chip shop.
Around the Broadway
- 5 Ten Green Bottles, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Small cafe/pub with live music in the evening.
- 6 The Sarah Moore. Pub
Most visitors to Leigh are daytrippers from London or Essex. Anyone staying for a few nights would typically opt for nearby Southend. There are a handful of holiday homes and apartments in Leigh, but there aren't any hotels or B&Bs in Leigh-on-Sea itself.
- 1 Billet Wharf House Holiday Home, 37 High St, Leigh-on-Sea, SS9 2EN. Holiday home.
- Estuary View. Holiday home.
- 2 Premier Inn Rayleigh, Rayleigh Weir, Arterial Road (A127), Basildon SS6 7SP (From the M25 exit at Junction 29 onto the A127 towards Southend. After approximately 13 Miles exit at the Rayleigh Weir junction from the A129 to Rayleigh. Go straight over two sets of traffic lights and take the first left turn.), ☏ .
|Routes through Leigh-on-Sea|
|London Fenchurch Street ← Basildon ←||W E||→ Southend Central|
|London ← Basildon ←||W E||→ Southend-on-Sea|