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Charlie 'O' Sea

Charlie ‘O’ Sea ©Essex Wildlife Trust

A guide to this important SSSI area

Wildlife at The naze

The Naze is so much more than striking seascapes and landscapes – it is a unique coastal landscape of outstanding geological and biological importance

The Naze is a site of outstanding geological importance

Most geological sites are either too specialist or too subtle to be easily understood – the Naze is one of the exceptions. Fossilised sharks teeth, shells and wood are found daily on the beach. Fossil discoveries from here shaped the global understanding of bird evolution and the cliffs are designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest accordingly.

Naze Cliffs

Naze Cliffs showing strata ©Essex Wildlife Trust

The Naze is a site where coastal change is clearly seen and easily understood

Coastal change is a huge issue for Essex and its coastal communities and the challenge is easily grasped at the Naze. The soft crumbling cliffs are actively eroding through a combination of rotational slumping and wave action. The result is a complex, chaotic topography subject to frequent change, particularly during the winter months.

Essex Skipper

Essex Skipper ©Essex Wildlife Trust

The Naze is a place where wildlife thrives

From obscure insects living in the soft crumbling coastal cliffs to the familiar and charismatic barn owl hunting over the grassland, The Naze is an excellent site to explore and gain memorable experiences of the natural world. It is home to a small number of locally and nationally rare plants and is an important site for migrating birds to rest and feed.

The Naze is the perfect place to get an introduction to marine wildlife

The cliffs give spectacular long-distance views of animals such as harbour porpoise whilst walking the beach allows for a close encounter. Some creatures are exposed by retreating tides whilst walking the strandline gives a glimpse of some of our marine life found further offshore.

Borrow dike

Borrow dike Walton-on-the-Naze ©Essex Wildlife Trust

The Naze is a place from which to explore the wider landscape

It is a gateway into Hamford Water National Nature Reserve, an area of global importance due to the number of wildfowl and waders it supports. You can get a glimpse of Arthur Ransome’s Secret Water, over 7,000 acres of tidal creeks, intertidal mud and sand flats, and saltmarshes.

The Naze is an important green open space

The Naze is currently a Public Open Space and a really important place for people. People go there to walk, relax, picnic, fly kites, exercise dogs, birdwatch, swim, sunbathe, hunt fossils and meet friends.

Birds Breeding

A valuable breeding site ©Essex Wildlife Trust

Some guidance text on walking the actual trail itself

The Naze derives from the Old English ‘naes’, meaning nose and stretches 3 miles northwards from Walton-on-the-Naze.

The circular Walton Wildlife Trail takes you around the Naze peninsular – a total distance is 3.7 miles. The paths are mainly grassy and can be uneven, so suitable footwear should be worn. A pair of binoculars and a drink would be useful additions.

Sentence on allowing/suitability for mountain bikes / horses.

A shorter circular trail is possible tides allowing by walking along the Naze beach. Please check a tide table before using this route.

Some areas are important for breeding or overwintering birds. Other areas are private farmland. Please visit responsibly.

Walton Wildlife Trail Map

Walton Wildlife Trail Map

1. Welcome

Cliff Wildlife

Sand Martins breed in the Naze cliffs and hunt over the grassy cliff top for food. The hot, dry cliff faces are important for rare insects.

2. Hamford Water

National Nature Reserve Bird Site

The site is internationally important for its populations of waders and waterfowl that feed and rest here in winter and on migration in spring and autumn and is nationally important for its numbers of breeding birds during summer.

3. Backwaters


Both Common and Grey Seals can be found in the less disturbed areas of Hamford Water and can be a russet colour due to lying on mud rich in ‘rusty’ iron oxide.

4. Sea Wall

Borrowdykes & Reptiles

To build the Naze seawall, soil was dug, or borrowed from the land to create the earth bank that became known as a seawall.

The common lizard, slow worm and grass snake are all found at the Naze.

5. Field Gate

Birds of Prey

Joining the trail at this point, as you head through the farmland you may see birds of prey, small mammals and numerous insects.

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