Abbotts Hall Farm
697ac/282ha SSSI (part), SPA
Grid ref: TL 963 146 (click for o/s map)
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This coastal farm was bought by Essex Wildlife Trust in 2000 using a legacy from the late Joan Elliot, with support from Trust members, WWF, English Nature, the Environment Agency and the Heritage Lottery Fund. It is a demonstration site for sustainable coastal defence and also a working farm rich in wildlife.
It has a network of surfaced tracks with signposted nature trails, a large freshwater lake with nesting islands and a kingfisher bank, and several ponds.
Two bird hides give good views over the developing coastal habitats, and across the Salcott Channel to RSPB's Old Hall Marshes reserve opposite. Many waders and wildfowl feed on the marsh. Peregrine falcons and marsh harriers often fly through looking for prey, causing bird flocks to take flight in alarm. A third hide overlooks the maturing freshwater lake where you may see water rail, kingfisher and little egret
Seven miles south of Colchester just off the B1026, south of Abberton Reservoir and west of Great Wigborough. From Colchester take the B1026 towards Maldon and turn off left towards Peldon about 3km beyond the causeway across Abberton Reservoir, or follow the B1026 from Maldon and keep straight on where it turns sharp left about 4km beyond Tolleshunt d'Arcy. The entrance is about 1km down on the right.
Open to the public Monday–Friday only, 9 am–5 pm. Regular weekend walks are organised: call Essex Wildlife Trust on 01621 862960 to book. For up-to-date information check the Trust website at www.essexwt.org.uk.
Dogs not permitted on the farm. Dogs restricted to dog walk adjacent to main building.
This is a working farm and sometimes paths will be closed for safety reasons.