Tollesbury Wick Nature Reserve

Tollesbury Dave Watts

Dave Watts

Marsh Harrier - Mark Huddleston

Mark Huddleston

Tollesbury Wick with lightship
Exmoor Ponies at Tollesbiry - Liz Pitman

Photo - Liz Pitman

Tollesbury Wick Nature Reserve

Please note the bird hides are currently unavailable due to urgent repairs being carried out, We will post an update once repairs have been completed

With the backdrop of the infamous red lightship, walk along the famous Essex marshes and experience wild Essex at its best


Tollesbury Wick nature reserve
A static map of Tollesbury Wick Nature Reserve

Know before you go

242 hectares

Walking trails

The footpath around this reserve is exposed to the elements so be prepared


Access from the marina along the seawall - there is also access into the bird hides below. Please note the bird hides are currently unavailable due to urgent repairs being carried out, We will post an update once repairs have been completed.


On a lead
Dogs permitted on the public footpath only, must be kept on leads


Bird hides

When to visit

Opening times

Accessible at all times

Best time to visit

All year round

About the reserve

The nature reserve has been worked for decades by traditional methods to help wildlife, so it now boasts a wonderful diversity of species. Clouded Yellow butterflies flutter above the grassland in summer, noisy Brent Geese gather on the grassland in winter and the majestic Marsh Harrier soars above, coming to roost at dusk.

Walk along the seawall from Tollesbury Marina and you can appreciate the Essex coast, the history which formed it and the wonderful wildlife it supports. Take the permissive path to the bird hide at the lagoon to witness the thousands of wildfowl and waders that gather here over winter to feed on the rich wet grassland, including large flocks of Golden Plover, Lapwing and Wigeon.

Home to Essex Wildlife Trust’s flying flock of sheep, cattle and Exmoor ponies these all help to manage this freshwater grazing marsh in the most sustainable way possible. The rough pasture is also perfect habitat for small mammals such as Field Voles and Pygmy Shrews, which makes this reserve the ideal hunting ground for numerous birds of prey species. You might be able to see that the grassland consists of many bumps and lumps - these are actually long established ant hills of the Yellow Meadow Ant that is still present at the reserve.

Environmental designation

Marine Conservation Zones (MCZ)
National Nature Reserve (NNR)
Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)
Special Areas of Conservation (SAC)
Special Protection Areas (SPA)
Badger hole red hills Tollesbury

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 occupying 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 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)!

Marsh Harrier - Peter Hewitt

Peter Hewitt

Marsh Harriers

These beautiful birds were made extinct as a breeding bird in the UK by the end of the 19th century. But due to a successful reintroduction in Norfolk, they have spread out and can now be seen throughout the year around the nature reserve

1 Bird Hide