The Naze is so much more than striking seascapes and landscapes – it is a unique coastal landscape of outstanding geological and biological 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.
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.
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 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Joining the trail at this point, as you head through the farmland you may see birds of prey, small mammals and numerous insects.