A great variety of wildlife is found in and around Walton-on-the-Naze.
The coastal area has national and international protection in
recognition of its outstanding nature and conservation value.
The Naze itself is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)
due to its fossil cliffs.
The John Weston Nature Reserve on the Naze is a Special
Protection Area and the area of water behind the Naze, called
Hamford Water and Walton Backwaters is a National Nature
Reserve and is recognised as being an internationally important
wetland for birds (RAMSAR).
The Naze derives from the Old English ‘naes’, meaning nose and stretches
3 miles northwards from Walton-on-the-Naze.
The 70 ft high cliffs rising
to the south are rich in fossils and unique to the Essex coastline. Originally
the Naze was farmland, then a golf course, and was requisitioned at the
beginning of World War II as a watch-out location. Several of the blockhouses
can still be seen.
is currently a public open space. The dense scrub of hawthorn, gorse
and brambles provides cover for numerous animal species and acts as a
important landfall for migrating birds, including the occasional rare
In summer the cliffs provide secure sites for sand martins. Waders,
gulls and terns can be seen along the shore.
Weston Nature Reserve
This reserve is located near the end of the Naze and can be reached along
the public footpath that’s stretches along the cliff tops from the Naze
Tower. The reserve is owned by the Essex Wildlife Trust and is named after
the late John Weston, a leading Essex naturalist.
The nature reserve consists
of bramble thickets, rough grassland and four ponds. Its nesting birds
include lapwing, redshank, sedge and reed warblers. It is also an important
stopping off point for migrants, for example the Firecrest..
Being so close to the shore it also attracts shore loving insects including
Emperor and Cream Spot Tiger Moths (see left.)
Hamford Water and the Walton Backwaters is an area of tidal creeks,
mudflats, islands, salt marshes and marsh grasslands. It can be viewed
best by boat or from a public footpath which runs along much of the seawall.
This area is recognised internationally and is designated as a National
Nature Reserve. It is an internationally important breeding ground for
Little Terns and wintering ground for Dark-bellied Brent Geese, wild foul
It also supports communities of coastal plants which are extremely
rare in Britain including Hog’s Fennel.
Please note Skippers Island is only accessible by prior booking with
the Essex Wildlife Trust.
Backwaters/Old Boating lake - Mill Lane
Marsh - Stone Point, The Naze
Wigeon - male with chestnut head with buff forehead. Winters in grassland
near lakes & estuaries. Picture by
Watching - Bring your Binoculars!
Water and the Walton Backwaters have RAMSAR classification. This means
that it is an internationally important wetland for birds.
It is on the
migration route for many bird species and provides wintering grounds for
Brent Geese, Godwit, Redshank, Shelduck, Teal and Avocet and breeding
grounds for terns.
In addition, there are nationally important numbers
of Wigeon, Pintail, Ringed Plover, Curlew, and Dunlin. During migration
in the autumn and spring, the Naze is a prime bird watching site. Curlew
Sandpipers are regularly seen along the beach, with Gannets and arctic
Skuas passing offshore.
There are currently over 70 seals in
the Walton backwaters, a small but healthy breeding population which has
risen from only 5 in 1986.
The colony of both harbour seals (Phoca
vitulina) and grey seals (Halichoerus grypus) are unusually of
a russet colouration for much of the year due to the iron oxide rich mud
that they haul out onto.
The seals enjoy resting on the mudbanks,
and prefer regions where rivers flow into the sea, like the backwaters,
because these waters are permanently ice-free.
©Pic/Info Andy Rutson-Edwards
The cliffs at Walton-on-the-Naze form one of the finest geological sites
in Britain and for that reason are a Site of Special Scientific Interest
At the base of the cliffs is London Clay which is 54 million years old
and it is overlaid with a sandy deposit called Red Crag (2 Million
This sandy deposit contains a large number of fossils including
shells, sharks teeth and bird skeletons.
cliffs are also an example of Coastal Erosion and recent land slumps can
be seen along it. The cliffs are eroding at a rate of approximately 2
meters per year!
is important that visitors do not disturb the plants and soil on the cliffs
in order to keep erosion to a minimum and for their own safety
stay away from the edge!
visits are now available at the Naze Tower please contact Michelle
Nye-Browne on 01255 852519 or e-mail
email@example.com for further information.
The information on this page is
available in the Walton Wildlife Guide. Copies can be obtained
the Tourist Information Centre (Tel: 01255 675542) on the seafront
in season, or the Walton Community Project Office at 61 High Street,
Walton (Tel: 01255 677006.)
©2013 Walton Community Project