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
The Naze 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 vagrants.
In summer the cliffs provide secure sites for sand martins. Waders,
gulls and terns can be seen along the shore.
John 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 and waders.
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
Bird Watching -
Bring your Binoculars!
Hamford 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
Spot the Seals
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 (SSSI).
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.
The 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!
It 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
firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.
The information on this page is available in the Walton Wildlife
Guide. Copies can be obtained
FREE from 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