Hilltop Farm Benfleet: Fruit Picking in Essex

Hilltop Farm Benfleet is a bit of a hidden gem. Not many people know about it but it’s a great place for fruit or strawberry picking in Essex. Occasionally we go out as a family and I think ‘I’m not going to blog about this, I’m not going to blog about this, I’m just going to have a nice time…’ and then ‘Argh! This is too nice! I have to blog about it!!’ So this is my review of it – if you want to know about the farms opening times or other places for fruit picking in Essex then I’ve popped these at the end of the post.

pick your own fruit benfleet

This weekend we went to Hilltop Farm in Benfleet, which is about a twenty minute drive from central Southend. I’ve wanted to do fruit picking for ages, I grew up in Kent and picking strawberries was just one of those things that you did every summer holiday. As I grew older I had friends who worked on the farms picking blackberries and the likes and to me it always reminds me of my childhood. Fruit should be something we can pick, not just something we pick up in Tescos. But round here? Well, despite the loveliness of the seaside I live in one of the most densely populated areas in the country. There’s foraging to be done, but it’s at the side of busy roads, so the discovery of Hilltop Farm was a rather sweet one.

fruit picking benfleetWe popped along first thing on Sunday morning (distinct lack of lie in’s round ours) and were met by the lovely owners who have been there for over thirty years. They told us what was in season, gave us pummets and carrier bags to put our fruit in and set us on our way. I was a bit worried that we’d be ‘told off’ for eating stuff as we went (not eating things on the way round obviously not being an option!) but we were advised to try the fruit to check if we had the correct trees and bushes. Phew! We visited Hilltop Farm in September but if you plan it right you can do strawberry picking here too – be warned though that the strawberries tend to go very quickly, this is a small farm not a big super commercial operation so you need to call and check.

hilltop farm benfleet

We picked plums, apples, redcurrants, blackcurrants and blackberries and The Toddler munched his way through all of them as we wandered round, helping to pick them and letting us know which ones he liked the most (the plums). Having been to local farmers markets I was mildly concerned that we would need to do some form of remortgaging when we went to pay, but our fruit and half a dozen free range eggs came to less than £3.50 which is way cheaper than you’d pay in a supermarket.

fruit picking southend

That night we gorged ourselves on an apple and redcurrant tart. There should have been a blog post on that too but I got a bit too involved in the eating and forgot about the photography – oops! I guess we’ll just have to go again.

Have you taken your children fruit picking? I’d love to know how you got on and if it helped get more fruit or vegetables into them?!

Hilltop Farm Benfleet Opening Times

Hilltop Farm is on Hilltop Avenue, off Vicarage Hill in Benfleet, Essex. It’s open from 10.30am to 4pm everyday except Mondays and is open from Mid-June to Mid-October. Personally I would always double check before visiting which also means you can see which fruits are currently ripe for picking (and eating!) – can call the farm on 01268 752734.

As a heavily pregnant lady with a small person in tow I can also report the two things I’m most interested in, in addition to the above – the farm has a small slide and swing next to the car park and (phew!) it also has a toilet.

More Fruit Picking In Essex

I’ve written a post here about the best places for strawberry picking in Essex

Strawberry picking in Essex at Lathcoates Farm Chelmsford and Cammas Hall near Bishops Stortford

Other Pick Your Own fruit is available at Park Fruit Farm near Frinton




  1. 5th September 2013 / 3:15 pm

    This looks like great fun, we are hoping to go fruit picking at the weekend 🙂

  2. 5th September 2013 / 9:37 pm

    YUM!! I must take the boys fruit picking before the season is over… Chops would definitely eat his money’s worth (they don’t weigh the kids on the way out do they?!), but I dread to think of the nappies the following day… 😉

  3. 6th September 2013 / 1:01 pm

    I think I’d like to come round for some pie! (if there is any left)

    • Kate
      7th September 2013 / 6:34 pm

      Errr, it went rather quickly!!!

  4. 6th September 2013 / 10:00 pm

    that looks like great fun, we LOVE picking fruit! x

  5. 7th September 2013 / 11:28 am

    My kids love fruit picking! They insist the fruit they pick is better than the stuff bought at the supermarkets. I guess that’s pride of ownership speaking. We’d love to do this!

    • Kate
      7th September 2013 / 6:35 pm

      But of course their stuff is better! I know better than to argue with small people ;o)

    • Kate
      8th September 2013 / 6:08 pm

      It’s a lovely way to spend some time 🙂

  6. 8th September 2013 / 2:27 pm

    What a bargain, all hand picked by your family in the UK and at such a low cost! Tasting is all part of the fun, and a good way to see if they were ready to be picked. Fruit picking is a lovely part of childhood and a nice family activity, thanks for sharing with Country Kids.

  7. 8th September 2013 / 5:39 pm

    My kids love fruit picking – good to know about this!

  8. 12th September 2013 / 5:21 pm

    What a wonderful time it looks like you had. I have really fond memories of fruit picking from when I was small. Thank you so much for sharing this with PoCoLo – hope to see you link up again tomorrow x

    • Kate
      14th September 2013 / 6:30 pm

      Thank you x

  9. 15th June 2015 / 9:29 am

    My son loves Hill top Farm in Benfleet, running around picking berries and being able to be a bit free, Lovely place to go especially on a bright spring morning

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