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Saturday, 9 April 2011

Walk 28 Clacton-on-Sea to The Naze

Walk 28   Clacton-on-Sea to The Naze (Essex)

(First leg of English coastal walk – Broadstairs in Kent to Berwick at the border with Scotland).

Map: L/R169
Distance: about 8 miles
Difficulty: quite easy, flat for the most part, hilly near The Naze
Terrain: roads and paths
Access: Parking in Clacton and on the Naze
Public transport: Buses 7 and 8 run from Clacton to The Naze – as always it is best to check before going.

Start the walk at Clacton Pier. Clacton was founded as a seaside resort in 1871. Originally the access was by steamship from Woolwich which docked at the pier (also built in 1871). Billy Butlin opened his second holiday camp in West Clacton in 1938 but it was closed in 1983 with the continued availability of cheap holidays abroad. The area is now given over to housing. In 1964 Clacton was the scene of a major battle between mods and rockers – no doubt conventional older men now! Scenes from two films, Kinky Boots and Starter for Ten, were filmed on Clacton Pier.

Further along to the east is Holland on Sea which looks to me like the posh part of Clacton. The path continues through more open space before passing through the ‘genteel’ Frinton on Sea. Large green spaces and a general well kept appearance give a positive impression. Originally the town had no pubs and was carefully planned in the early years of the twentieth century with tree lined avenues and open spaces. In 1851 the town had just 30 residents but just 60 years later had expanded with a railway, hotels, schools and street lighting. It was the last English target of the Luftwaffe in 1944. The walk along the promenade and on to Walton on the Naze goes past, what seem like, hundreds of beach huts.

Walton on the Naze was developed in the 19th century and in some ways it is a smaller version of Clacton. The pier is the second longest in the world and one of the oldest to have continually operated amusements. An early local industry grew up around the harvesting of sea holly, a plant found on the sandy shores. Its roots were candied as a sweetmeat and said to have aphrodisiac properties!

Walking up on to the Naze a good view of the docks at Harwich can be enjoyed to the north. Naze derives from the old English ‘naes’ meaning nose presumably referring to the shape of the land. The tower is a significant landmark and is often open to visitors who can climb the steps to a viewing platform at the top. It was built by Trinity House in 1720 to aid sailors. The headland around it consists of 50 acres of scrub woodland and 200 acres of salt marsh to the north of the sea wall. Look out for the psalm on a stone reflecting on God and the mighty sea.

Snaps show: Promenade Walton on the Naze; kite flying at Clacton; Clacton Pier front; Walton on the Naze pier front.

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