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Fingringhoe Wick Visitor Centre

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, including; grassland, heathland, lakes, ponds and the recent reserve expansion and creation of a nationally important intertidal area

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 over 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; welcome and information desk, tearoom, gift shop with books, optics, greeting cards, gifts and much more. Toilets, Adapted WC with baby changing facilities.

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 viewpoints 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 includes a weekly toddler group, weekend, seasonal and school holiday activities, guided walks, and local artists are able to have exhibitions within the centre.

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, reed beds, 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 35 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 with more than 200 species of bird having been recorded along with 27 species dragon and damselflies, 24 species of butterflies, 24 species of mammal and up to 350 species of flowering plants. Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, Marsh Harrier, Buzzard and Peregrine are seen almost daily. Barn, Tawny and Little owls are often heard and seen whilst the seasonal visitors include Merlin, Opsrey, Hobby and Hen Harrier which enables Fingringhoe to hold a position in the country’s top 50 sites for raptors and owls.

Seasonal Interest
Spring: Nightingale, Chiff Chaff, Whitethroat, Cuckoo, Thyme-leaved Speedwell, Foxglove, Common Vetch and Orange Tip Butterfly, Speckled Wood and Adder.
Summer: Marsh Harrier, Great crested Grebe (sometimes with young) Turtle Dove, Sand Martin, Swallow, Hobby, Common Spotted Orchid, Green Alkanet, Sea Lavender, 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 it 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, Kingfisher and Red breasted Merganser
NB: 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 for the best views of the birds

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; tearoom, gift shop, toys, books, optics, bird feeders & feed, greeting cards and much more. Toilets, baby changing facilities and wheel chair. The observation room offer fabulous views across the saltmarsh. Feeding stations are set up outside so you can relax and watch the wildlife whilst enjoying some of our lovely locally made products from the tearoom.

Useful Information to plan your visit

Entry Donation

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.

Reserve Trails

The Reserve Trails lead you through the various habitats woodland, scrub, heathland and past ponds and towards the estuary.The reserve is fairly free draining and therefore doesn't get too messy underfoot unless there have been several days of torrential rain. The wetter areas of the reserve will be found towards the northern boundary. 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.

Local Tidal Information

Local Weather Information


Nearby nature reserves

Cockaynes Wood Nature Reserve
2 miles - Essex Wildlife Trust
Ray Island Nature Reserve
4 miles - Essex Wildlife Trust
Howlands Marsh Nature Reserve
4 miles - Essex Wildlife Trust

Nature reserve map

Reserve information

Fingringhoe Wick
Visitor Centre
South Green Road Fingringhoe
Map reference
TM 048 193
Great for...
a family day out
getting away from it all
historical interest
lichens and mosses
overwintering birds
spring migrant birds
stunning views
Best time to visit
Jan - Dec
Get directions
Find out here
Public transport
Plan your journey
Opening Times
Open Daily 9am - 5pm (November, December & January 9am - 4pm) Closed Christmas Day & Boxing Day
Gift shop
Visitor centre
Picnic facilities
Disabled toilet
Baby changing
48.60 hectares
Living Landscape schemes
Colne Valley Living Landscape

• Full Wheelchair and mobility access in the visitor centre and tearoom. • Selected parts of the nature reserve and some bird hides have wheelchair and mobility access • Wheelchair is available for use on request. • Vehicle access permitted to selected areas of the reserve for blue badge holders only. • Adapted WC, some braile signage in the visitor centre • Large print, braile and audio "Access for All Guide" available
Walking information
Dog are permitted on site, but must be kept on the dog trail and a lead at all times. The dog trail is approximately 20 minutes and heads you towards the main gate. Accessible just outside the reserve entrance is the Access Fingringhoe, "Gravel Pit Trail" which makes a nice 1.5-2hr long walk. Your dog can be off lead on this trail. NB: Dog access onto the main areas of the reserve is not permitted • Fresh water is provided at the centre • Dog waste bin is located in the main carpark
• Main Carpark • Easy Access parking near the centre and further on reserve • Coach/mini bus drop off point and parking
Dogs must be on lead
Grazing animals
We occassionally have some of the Trust's "Flying Flock" assisting with our reserve mangement. The flock usually consists of Shetland sheep.
Reserve manager
Essex Wildlife Trust
Tel: 01206 729678