Back to reserve map

Tollesbury Wick Nature Reserve

This 600 acre site is a rare example of an Essex fresh water grazing marsh, worked for decades by traditional methods sympathetic to wildlife. Tollesbury Wick is home to Essex Wildlife Trusts flying flock of sheep. You should be be able to see Marsh Harriers at most times of the year.

Marsh Harriers can be seen most times of the year which is pretty remarkable as they became extinct as a breeding bird in the UK by the end of the 19th century.

What to look for:

Widlife is abundant in rough pasture, borrowdykes, seawalls, wet flushes, pools and saltmarsh. Large areas of rough pasture suit small mammals such as Field Voles and Pygmy Shrew. In addition, they in turn attract hunting Hen Harriers and Short-eared Owls.

Dry grassland on the slopes of the seawalls support a wide variety of insects including butterflies, Bush Crickets and grasshoppers. In spring, Spiny Rest-harrow, Grass Vetchling, Slender Hare's Ear and many other wild flowers can be found in ungrazed areas. Golden plover, Lapwing, Brent Geese and Wigeon feed or roost on the winter wet grassland.

Due to a successful reintroduction of the Marsh Harrier in the middle of the 20th century, they have been spreading out from their stronghold in Norfolk and Suffolk and you should be able to spot one on the reserve.

A public footpath follows the sea wall from Tollesbury Marina round the sea wall and back through the village. On this 5.5 mile walk, you can appreciate the Essex coast, the history which formed it and the wildlife it supports. The route is exposed to the elements so be prepared. If you have a dog, it must be kept under strict control because of the risk to grazing livestock.

Public Transport - Bus services run to Tollesbury from Maldon, Colchester and Witham.

Dogs restricted to certain areas or to certain specified times.

Access is via the public footpath off the sea wall by the Marina. Once on the reserve the path to the bird hide is permissive and access is to the hide only. Sorry no dogs are allowed on the reserve because of disturbance to wildlife and livestock.

Directions - Follow the B1023 to Tollesbury via Tiptree, leaving the A12 at Kelvedon then follow Woodrolfe Road towards the marina and car park at Woodrolfe Green.

Did you know?

The Badgers on Tollesbury Wick seem to be taking on the role of the "Time Team" as their digging activity has been unearthing some interesting archaeological finds! Their sett is occuping the site of an ancient "Red Hill" at the back of the reserve. Red Hills are mounds of industrial waste including coarse pottery vessels, ash and soil reddened by the heat of the fires used to evaporate seawater to produce salt. The Badgers have only recently moved in and their deep digging has brought to the surface large pieces of earthenware that haven't seen the light of day for many centuries. In fact, a local expert has suggested these items could date back to the Iron Age (ie. about 2000 years ago)!

Species and habitats


Nearby nature reserves

Abbotts Hall Farm
3 miles - Essex Wildlife Trust
Bradwell Shell Bank Nature Reserve
3 miles - Essex Wildlife Trust
Ray Island Nature Reserve
4 miles - Essex Wildlife Trust

Nature reserve map

Reserve information

Tollesbury Wick
Nature Reserve
Map reference
Best time to visit
Jan - Dec
Get directions
Find out here
Public transport
Plan your journey
Opening Times
Accessible at all times
242.81 hectares
Walking information
The footpath around this reserve is exposed to the elements so be prepared
Car park at Woodrolfe Green
Dogs allowed
Reserve manager
Essex Wildlife Trust
Tel: 01621 862960