We started off at the RSPB reserve at Bowers Marsh which has a wonderful sense of "Big Essex Skies" and marsh land solitude despite the distant hum of road traffic.
Follow the Thames Path out of the marsh and under the road bridge and along the mudflats of East Haven creek. The path is a little overgrown approaching a second world war pill box so not suitable for shorts or sandals.
It was very pleasant walking along the creek and checking out the boats moored or those abandoned to rot beside it.
At Benfleet there was a memorial to the battle in 894AD when the Saxons defeated the Vikings in a surprise attack and burnt their long ships. Traces of the burnt ship timbers were apparently found when the railway was built.
After walking through parks, back of houses green lanes and horse paddocks (we had to climb over a gate on a public footpath which had been locked shut with a screw - must remember to report to Essex Council rights of way officer) we stopped at the historic 14th Century St Margaret's Church, which is reputed to be haunted, but nothing spooky occurred and the Church wardens who let us in were very friendly.
At least we think... they were the wardens?
We stopped off at the nearby Gun Pub for a beer to re-hydrate then drove home (about 45 minutes each way). You could take the train and start the circular route at Benfleet station.
I do recommended this walk, there is some traffic/train noise and you walk through a few brownfield sites but it has lots of atmosphere and history as well as being a change from chocolate box "pretty" country side walks. EssexWalks.Com has lots of excellent free walks across the county.