There’s nowhere quite The Naze on a warm, sunny Sunday in June.
Normally when we visit Walton-on-the-Naze we park at The Naze and walk along the seafront to the pier and then back again. We stop for fish and chips, and doughnuts and watch the sun (sometimes) sparkle on the sea. This time though we thought we’d break with tradition and take a walk around The Naze and then walk along the seafront for the fish and chips and doughnuts.
The Naze is a unique part of the Essex coastline. For a start, it’s got cliffs, admittedly they aren’t very high and they are crumbling away at an alarming rate, but they mean that you can look down on to a beach from above. It’s along this beach that you can go fossil hunting, there are plenty of sharks teeth for everyone! Because of the fossils The Naze is an SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest.)
The Naze is partly open space, and partly an area of dense scrubland which is great to explore. There are well marked paths which lead you through what in June, is dense undergrowth and small areas of woodland to the coast path. As we walked along the paths we discovered a series of information boards, part of the Wonders of Walton trails project. The trail on The Naze tells the story of The Naze during World War Two . It’s now such a peaceful place, I found it hard to imagine it 75 years ago when it was a centre of intense military activity. There’s still a pill-box in good condition, it’s far enough away from the cliff not to have fallen into the sea as many along other parts of the coast have. If you look over the cliff edge at low tide you can see the remains of two seaweed covered pillboxes. If there had been an invasion, the soldiers manning the pillboxes were to defend themselves and the country with rifles and machine guns. The boards also explained that The Naze was the site of one of the very first guided missile test sites in the country.
We followed the coast path to Hamford Waters and the John Weston Nature Reserve. This is a beautiful and atmospheric area of wetland of international importance because of the many breeds of bird life that it attracts. To be honest I can’t recognise one bird from another but it’s a great place to walk even if you aren’t a bird spotter. I love the way the land and the sea merge into each other and the vastness of the sky.
After the walk we went to the Naze Tower. It was built in 1820 as a navigational aid, and it’s now an art gallery and cafe. You can climb the many steps which take you 86ft. up to the roof. Two of us went to the top this time where you get a great view of the coast all the way to Harwich and Felixstowe. There are five floors with a winding caste-iron staircase to climb. The second and third floor are the cafe, but each floor has art from local artists for sale, some of it big enough that you question how it was manhandled up the stairs.
Then after a drink from the cafe whilst sitting in the sunshine at the picnic benches, we walked along the seafront to buy our chips and doughnuts near the pier. Well, you can’t break with tradition can you?
More about Walton at their website.