Old Hall Marshes
1134ac/459ha NNR, SSSI, SPA, RAMSAR
Grid ref: TL 959 124 (click for o/s map)
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Old Hall Marshes is a peninsula of grazing marsh at the head of the Blackwater Estuary, protected by 10km of seawall. It has large areas of ancient 'unimproved' grassland, reedbeds and open water, and just about all the designations you can think of, including SSSI, NNR and SPA.
Grazing by cattle and sheep is managed to produce swards of different lengths to suit different bird species, and the water regime is managed to try to keep levels consistent summer and winter.
As a result the reserve attracts wildfowl and waders to breed and overwinter in internationally and nationally important numbers. Numbers of wintering brent geese, for example, average more than 4,500 and, of the 60 species of bird that breed there, numbers of garganey, shoveler, pochard, avocet and bearded tit are of national importance.
Access by car is restricted to RSPB members only, by permit obtainable by writing to the warden, 1 Old Hall Lane, Tollesbury, nr Maldon, Essex, but there is a public footpath running right round the reserve on the seawall and this can most easily be reached from Tollesbury. From Tollesbury the full circuit is over 10 miles, but a shortcut can be taken across the centre. SatNav: CM9 8TP.
Bus services run to Tollesbury from Maldon, Colchester and Witham.
Accessible at all times via the public footpaths.
Winter for overwintering brent geese and other waterfowl on the fleets and on the estuary; spring and summer for breeding birds.
The seawall path can be very muddy in winter.