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Colne Point

652ac/264ha  SSSI, NNR, SPA

Grid ref: TM 108 125

Updated 31/12/2023.

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This large reserve at the mouth of the Colne Estuary consists of a shingle ridge enclosing a considerable area of saltmarsh. The shingle and sand is nearly all that remains of a much larger area between Walton-on-the-Naze and St Osyth that existed at the end of the 19th century but has now mostly been developed by the holiday industry.

It is rich in plants and animals, including many rarities. The saltmarsh has golden samphire, and the shingle ridge sea holly, sea bindweed, sea spurge, yellow horned-poppy and sea kale.

In autumn and winter the mudflats serve as a feeding ground for large numbers of waders, with geese and ducks feeding on the saltmarsh and grebes and divers offshore.

It is a major migration route and in autumn when the weather conditions are right birds constantly stream through. In summer oystercatcher, ringed plover and redshank nest here.


Access from St Osyth via Lee Wick Road. A car parking space is provided just inside the reserve on the seaward side of the sea wall, but is liable to flood at very high tides. Please use the car park and do not drive along the track past the chalets which the Trust does not own. Please drive slowly and leave all gates as you find them. SatNav: CO16 8ET.

Except for Essex Wildlife Trust members access is by day permit only, available from Trust HQ (01621 862960).

Migration periods for birds; summer for saltmarsh plants and insects.

Dogs not permitted.

During the breeding season (March to September) please walk below the last high tide mark as eggs and chicks are extremely difficult to see and are easily trampled. At high tides various parts of the reserve can be flooded for some time, including around the car park and either end of the footbridge (the only access to the main part of the reserve, so consult a tide table before you visit. Wear wellingtons or waterproof boots as it may be muddy, or even necessary to wade, at any time of the year.

© Tony Gunton