137ac/55ha SSSI (part)
Grid ref: TM 264 235 (click for o/s map)
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The Naze (Old English naes, meaning a nose) is a headland roughly three miles long and one mile wide, stretching northwards from tWalton-on-the-Naze. Behind it is Hamford Water, an area of international importance for birds which it shelters from the North Sea. At its southern end is a hill that is being eroded, with the result that 20-metre high cliffs rise directly from the beach – unique on the Essex coast.
The cliffs are important geologically because of a spectacular exposure of a sandy deposit called Red Crag, formed about 3 million years ago when the sea covered most of Essex and containing large numbers of fossils. Red Crag erodes easily. Two concrete pillboxes lying out on the beach show how quickly erosion is occurring: they were built on the clifftop during World War II.
The public open space on top of the cliff consists of rough grassland with a scattering of large gorse bushes and elder scrub, providing cover for small birds such as whitethroat, linnet and goldfinch. During migration periods it is a prime birdwatching site.
Essex Wildlife Trust manages a visitor centre at the southern end near the Naze Tower. The section of cliff nearby has a viewing platform, from where you can view the North Sea - with a chance of seeing harbour porpoises - and the eroding cliffs.
Head northwards along the coast road in Walton with the sea on your right. By the Eastcliffe Hotel take the left fork and follow Hall Lane and Naze Park Road for about a mile. This will bring you to the public car park on the cliff top. SatNav: CO14 8LE.
Regular buses run from Clacton and Frinton via Walton station (train link to Colchester) and from the bus station on the front.
Accessible at all times.
April–June for early flowers and birdsong; spring and autumn for migrating birds.
Please keep dogs under close control in John Weston reserve.
Beware fast-incoming tides when walking to Stone Point. A waymarked nature trail about 2 km long runs around the Naze Open Space, starting from the tower.