Essex Wildlife Trust's first nature reserve and visitor centre, set in a spectacular position overlooking the Colne Estuary, even on the dullest of days the views are fantastic. It offers the visitor real peace and quiet and a chance to escape from it all. A wide range of habitats are on view here, inlcuding grassland, heathland and ponds.
Fingringhoe Wick was Essex Wildlife Trust's first nature reserve (1961) and some years later it was where the Trust opened their first visitor centre, and fifty years on visitors are still coming to see this magical place. Set in a spectacular position overlooking the Colne Estuary the visitor centre provides stunning views even on the dullest days It offers the visitor real peace and quiet and a chance to escape from it all. The visitor centre facilities include gift shop offering light refreshments, toys, books, optics, bird feeders & feed, greeting cards and much more, Viewing tower & observation room with panoramic views. Toilets, baby changing facilities, wheel chair, hearing loop available.
Fingringhoe Wick is one of the finest nature reserves in the county, it is attractive to families, organised wildlife groups, school parties and walkers. Out on the reserve you will find a picnic area, nature trails & bird hides (some easy access) and view points with stunning estuary views. There are numerous benches located around the reserve. There is a full diary of events for both children & adults throughout the year which include a weekly toddler group.
There were 40 years of gravel extraction on the nature reserve before Essex Wildlife Trust bought it. It offers a wide range of habitats including areas of grassland, gorse heathland, reedbeds, ponds and the estuary itself. Fingringhoe Wick is famous for its Nightingales each spring. The songsters ring out over the reserve and there are usually about 25 males to be heard. Thousands of waders and wildfowl use the estuary in the winter and as many as 700 Avocets can be seen.
The nature reserve is a wildlife haven and visitors can enjoy up to 200 species of birds. Numerous dragonflies, damselflies and butterflies and up to 350 species of flowering plants have been recorded. In the spring you can see orchids, clovers, medicks and treefoils. In the summer the Sea Lavender on the saltmarsh looks spectacular.
Spring: Nightingale, Chiff Chaff, Whitethroat, Cuckoo, Thyme-leaved Speedwell, Foxglove, Common Vetch and Orange Tip Butterfly and Speckled Wood.
Summer: Marsh Harrier, Great crested Grebe (sometimes with young) Turtle Dove, Sand Martin, Swallow, Hobby,Common Spotted Orchid, Green Alkanet, Lesser Calamint, Common Lizard and Slow Worm
Autumn: Avocet, Turnstone, Osprey (occasionally as they pass through) Fungi include Fly Agaric, Parasol Mushroom, Milk Caps, Shaggy Ink Caps and Puff Ball During the autumn "Berry Feast" we appreciate if visitors don't pick the fruits. The Trust reserves the right to request donations for fruit picked at the nature reserve Winter: Brent Geese, Golden Plover, Grey Plover, Knot, Lapwing, Dunlin, Peregrine, Merlin, Hen Harrier, Shovelar, Teal, Wigeon and Red breasted Merganser
Birdwatching From The Hides:
The best views of the estuary birds are during the autumn and winter months. We recommend the two hours either side of the high tide provides visitors with the best views.
Visitor Centre Facilities
Include gift shop offering light refreshments, toys, books, optics, bird feeders & feed, greeting cards and much more.
Toilets, baby changing facilities, wheel chair, hearing loop available.
Observation room and Sea & Sky Obersvatory both offer fabulous views across the saltmarsh. Feeding stations are set up outside so you can relax and enjoy a hot cuppa whilst watching the wildlife.
Unfortunately the Panning for gem stones activity is closed whilst we carry out essential maintenance during the winter. It will reopen at the end of March 2014. We apologise for any inconvenience caused.
Useful Information to plan your visit
We do request a suggested donation £2 per Adult, £1 per Child, £5 per Family (2 adults & 2 children)
Length of Visit
Please allow 2-3 hours for a visit to the reserve, but you are most welcome to stay much longer!
How to find us
We are located just outside Fingringhoe Village. Some of the lanes are a little narrow and several of the locals ride their horses nearby.
Public Transport to the visitor centre & nature reserve. Please note: buses only get you to the village of Fingringhoe. The reserve is a 30-45 minute walk from the village. There is a nice walk along the Gravel Pit Trail from the bus stop to the nature reserve.
Access and Facilities
Wheelchair and mobility access to selected parts of the nature reserve; wheelchair available on request; Wheelchair and mobility access to selected bird hides. Vehicle access permitted to selected areas of the reserve for blue badge holders. Adapted WC, some braile signage in the visitor centre. Large print, braile and audio "Access for All Guide" available.
The Reserve Trails lead you through the various habitats woodland, scrub, heathland and past ponds and towards the estuary. Access to the beach is not permitted.
Restricted Dog Access:
The Dog Trail loop starts just the visitor centre and is approximately 20 minutes. Just outside the reserve entrance is the Access Fingringhoe "Gravel Pit Trail " which will extend your walk up to approximately 1.5 –2hrs. Please keep your dog on a lead at all times. Fresh water is available at the centre for thirsty dogs. NB; There is no dog access to the main part of the reserve.
The reserve is fairly free draining and therefore doesn't get to messy underfoot unless there has been several days of torrential rain. The wetter areas of the reserve will be found towards the northern boundary.