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24 September 2014

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You are in: Essex > Coast > Fossil Cliffs

The Fossil Cliffs

The fossil cliffs

Fossil Cliffs

Over 50 million years ago Essex was beneath a warm sea. Rivers flowed into this sea bringing mud and silt which eventually became compacted and formed what we now know to be London Clay, which makes up the base of the Naze.

The historic, and instantly recognisable, cliffs underneath the Naze have been the subject of public debate for decades.

A Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) the cliffs form one of the finest geographical sites in Britain. They are formed from London Clay at the base which is 54 million years old and overlaid with a sandy deposit called Red Craig, which is about two million years old.

Walk along the cliff top

Walk along the cliff top

The cliff faces are popular with fossil hunters who come to search for the fossils of the marine life like gastropods, nautiloids, turtles and many species of fish including sharks which would have swum in the sea millions of years ago. The London Clay is also famed for fruits and seeds of subtropical plants which have been carried by rivers into the sea.

The cliffs at Walton have also produced some of the best bird fossils in the world.

Evidence of the large scale cliff erosion can be seen on the beach. Two pillboxes which served as look-out posts during the Second World War up on the Naze have since fallen onto the beach below, serving as a reminder of the important role the Naze had in years gone by.

The question of sea defences along the Naze is hugely controversial, while many believe the Naze should be protected by the Sea equal numbers believe nature should be left to take its course on the cliff faces.
The cliffs are eroding at approximately two metres a year. For your own safety keep well back from the cliff tops.

Take the route through the trees

Take the route through the trees

  • Start the walk by travelling along the cliff tops moving northwards across the grassy cliff top, heeding the warning notices to keep well clear of the unstable edge. As the path descends across the top of the lower cliffs, Harwich can be seen ahead.
  • Follow the path through the trees at the far end of the Naze until you meet a tarmac path, bear left on to it to walk on top of an embankment, above pools and marshes.
  • Later on you’ll have a chance to go down onto the shore and explore the base of the cliffs.

last updated: 11/04/2008 at 14:08
created: 19/07/2005

You are in: Essex > Coast > Fossil Cliffs

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