The Walk to Shinglehead Point, Tollesbury, Essex, England

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Tollesbury Waterside , Tollesbury, Essex, England, Great Britain

Start the walk from the small car park in Woodrolfe Road (labelled with a white 'P' on a blue background in the 'Location map'). This is a small unsurfaced area with a small public toilet at the back but there isn't a car park sign anywhere to be seen. There is a sign on the opposite side of the road pointing into the entrace which says "Recycling point".

Continue down the road towards the waterfront until you reach a slight narrowing of the road at what appears to be a small hump backed bridge. This is where the road goes through the sea wall and there is a large concrete block each side of the road one of which is the hinge point of a large metal flood door. Just beyond this point you will see the old sail lofts by the roadside.

Immediately to your right on this side of the flood door there is a public footpath, starting with a few steps, which runs alongside a block of flats on your right with the open-air swimming pool, eventually, to your left. The path goes across a small concrete road, which is the vehicular access to the marina, and across the front of the marina clubhouse.

As the path curves round to the left go through the gap in the fence with a waymarker on one of the gateposts. This footpath is shown as a red-dashed line on the 'Location Map'. Do not follow the small concrete path which goes off left down to the marina.

View from the Sea Wall, Tollesbury, Essex, England, Great Britain

On the sea wall at Tollesbury looking over the salt marshes towards the Trinity lightship and the main channel, Woodrolfe Creek, with the marina to our left out of the picture.

This view is from about half way along the straight section between the marina and the first obvious bend on the location map.

Comment High tide view

Brent Geese and Widgeon, Tollesbury, Essex, England, Great Britain
Further along the sea wall we saw a flock of Brent geese coming in to land on the grazing marshes of Tollesbury Wick on the inside of the sea wall and joining a flock of Widgeon (ducks) already in residence. Both of these birds spend the winter on the marshes and leave again early in the new year. We saw these in November.

In this view Tollesbury is out of the picture to our right and we are part way along the sea wall which is parallel with the words 'South Channel' on the 'Location map'.


Further along the Sea Wall, Tollesbury, Essex, England, Great Britain
A little further along the wall towards Shinglehead Point looking back across the flock of ducks and geese showing Tollesbury, with it's forest of masts, in the distance and the freshwater borrowdyke in the foreground.

In the summer you would very likely hear Skylarks on this walk.


At Shinglehead Point, Tollesbury, Essex, England, Great Britain
Finally on reaching Shinglehead Point we see a large shingle bank between the outside edge of the marsh and the main channel of the River Blackwater.

It is possible, with care, to walk across the marsh and on to the bank which is what we did. Do not attempt to do this at any time other than around low tide as at other times you could get cut off by the incoming tide and the shingle bank is submerged at high tide.

This view is from the seaward end of the shingle looking up the River Blackwater, on the left, with the sea wall just visible below the skyline on the right-hand edge of the picture.

Comment High tide view.

The Shingle Bank, Tollesbury, Essex, England, Great Britain
This view is from the top of the bank looking over towards Mersea Island with the sea just out of the picture to the right. I would estimate that the height of the bank is about 8-10 feet.

So what's special about shingle? Well on this part of the coast, and it's various creeks, it is normally all mud and the occurence of sand or shingle is unusual. Shingle also occurs across the other side of this large estuary at Colne Point. I haven't been able to find out why it occurs here but am inclined to think that it may be the remains of glacial deposits.


The Fresh Water Borrowdyke, Tollesbury, Essex, England, Great Britain
On the way back from Shinglehead Point this view is from the top of the sea wall showing the freshwater borrowdyke and Tollesbury at the back.

You should be able to see the tower of Tollesbury church poking up above the horizon just to the left of the last white building on the left. Probably more easily seen in the larger picture.


This walk is an easy 1.5 miles each way, is flat and you can't get lost following the sea wall. There is, however, no shelter and it is totally exposed so if you go in unsettled conditions you will have to put up with whatever the weather throws at you. In wet weather it can be muddy in places. You could go all the way round the wall on a circular route and back into Tollesbury but that is a much longer walk of about 5 miles.