St. Osyth Priory was founded in the 12th century and its imposing gatehouse with decorative flint-work can be seen when leaving St. Osyth for Point Clear. The extensive estate is now operated as a venue for hire and unfortunately is not open for general visitors. For a coastal wilderness experience, and to be closer to nature, the Colne Point nature reserve can be accessed via Lee Wick Lane. Park at the very bottom then walk along Beach Road past the various houses – raised on blocks to avoid the regular flooding – and over a wooden footbridge. The reserve is an important nesting site for certain endangered bird species and provides habitat for numerous rare, specialist plants and animals. At the opposite end of the spectrum, for shopping and eating options, and perhaps more opportunity for seafront promenade walking, Brightlingsea provides a genteel alternative (via St Osyth and the B1027 west) while Clacton-on-Sea (via St. Osyth and the B1027 east) is a full-on traditional seaside resort with all the facilities one would expect.

Great British Life: Enjoy stunning views of boats on the water (c) Simon TaylorEnjoy stunning views of boats on the water (c) Simon Taylor


1. From the bus stop a tarmac path leads away from the road, past the entrance to house number 327. The estuarine waters where the rivers Colne and Blackwater meet to flow into the North Sea soon come into view on the left. Pass some houses on your right with isolated sections of garden on the seaward side of the path. At ‘East No 1’ tidal flood gate follow the path with the low concrete wall on your left. Looking across the water, East Mersea is only a mile off, while the decommissioned nuclear power station 6 miles away at Bradwell can be seen on most days. On a clear day the ancient chapel of St. Peter’s on the Wall can also be seen (scan left from the power station) as can the north-east corner of Foulness Island, some 13 miles distant. The seawall path passes an array of chalets and bungalows, while in the gravel at the top of the shore various specialist wild plants exploit the conditions.

Great British Life: A large model of a seashell sits at the top of the beach (c) Simon TaylorA large model of a seashell sits at the top of the beach (c) Simon Taylor

2. The path opens out into a greensward used as a car park (off New Way; some may opt to park and follow the walk from here). Continue along the path on the left-hand margin, still with the low concrete wall between you and the shore. A little further on, you may notice a large model of a seashell sitting at the top of the beach, a curio installed by a local artist. The path opens onto a greensward and, past a shallow bend, a straight stretch looks north-west towards Bateman’s Tower and the colourful beach huts across the creek at Brightlingsea, while, to your right, Point Clear’s own Martello Tower appears between the various buildings. The seawall path then turns right, rounding the tip of Point Clear, with exposed flats on the left and further views of Brightlingsea.


Great British Life: The Point Clear tower is now home to the small but quirky East Essex Aviation Museum and Museum of the 1940s (c) Simon TaylorThe Point Clear tower is now home to the small but quirky East Essex Aviation Museum and Museum of the 1940s (c) Simon Taylor

3. Opposite a track leading out onto the flat, a lane provides access to the Martello Tower, the Ferry Boat Inn and Point Clear’s other facilities. To continue the walk, stay on the seawall path which now heads east, with saltings and the tidal Brightlingsea Creek to the left and the borrow dyke, with caravan parks beyond, on the right. After half a mile, past an access from one of the caravan parks, a series of rectangular features can be made out in the saltings: old oyster pits. Beyond the caravans the path passes a sluice before sweeping in a wide arc around a golf course; St. Osyth Creek, to the left, provides plenty of opportunity to observe more estuarine birds.

4. Past the golf course the path turns sharp left and after 150 metres drops slightly to follow a grassy strip just above the marsh, passing several gardens and horse paddocks on the right. It can be a little uneven in places so tread carefully. Eventually a boat yard appears up ahead and the path passes several house boats before emerging beside a road beside an old and rusty crane. You may recognise this as Point Clear Road, the only route onto the peninsula.

5. Cross the road to access the footway and turn right, then cross back again when the footway switches sides. Those travelling by bus and seeking a swift return may catch the bus back from here. Otherwise keep following the footway alongside the road, past an array of different houses, some with beautiful gardens, to return to the starting point.

Great British Life: The walk explores the beautiful Essex coast (C) OS MapsThe walk explores the beautiful Essex coast (C) OS Maps


Distance: 4.8 miles (7.8km).

Starting point: The bus stop at the entrance to Oakmead Road, CO16 8JU, grid reference TM094148.

Access: Parking can be tricky, although there is a car park off New Way (grid reference TM088153). There is a half-hourly bus service from Clacton (route 1 or 6) so public transport is a good option (

Map: OS Explorer 184 Colchester, Harwich & Clacton-on-Sea.

Refreshment: The Ferry Boat Inn can be found next to the Martello Tower near the tip of the Point, where there is also a tearoom and a burger bar. There is a small supermarket on Point Clear Road towards the end of the walk.

Places of interest: The Martello Tower is one of 103 built in the early 1800s as coastal defences against potential naval assault by the French. The design is based on a much older tower at Mortella Point in Corsica which survived a two-day bombardment by the British Navy in 1794. Evidently the name is simply a corruption. The Point Clear tower is now home to the small but quirky ‘East Essex Aviation Museum and Museum of the 1940s’; check online for opening times.