Clacton On Sea – Walton On the Naze Walk – 03.08.2013

“Oh! I do like to be beside the seaside
Oh I do like to be beside the sea!
I do like to stroll along the Prom, Prom, Prom!” © 1907 by John A. Glover-Kind

As we were about to embark on our stroll along the coast, I was reminded of this quirky song about the seaside. The sun was shining, the sea was sparkling blue, children were making sandcastles and the whole place just generally buzzing! How nice to see the English Seaside so busy! Our journey had brought us to the seaside town of Clacton On Sea, where smugglers have walked along the beaches, fortifications have been built to defend the coastline and Billy Butlin built his wonderland for holidays! Our walk in Clacton started out from the end of Clacton Sea Front and we were heading towards Clacton Pier

Had we carried out this walk quite some time back, the area would have been very different. The whole place would have been home to Butlins Holiday camp, which provided many happy hours of holiday fun in years gone by. The camp was built in 1938 and despite being requisitioned by the MOD for use during World II, it soon reopened its gates for holidaymakers. The camp’s heyday was during the late 50’s / 60’s and during 1958 Cliff Richard and the drifters played here! Sadly the camp closed in 1983 as tourists choose cheap foreign holidays instead of the Butlins holiday. Unfortunately this led to a decline in people visiting Clacton, however, I could see today the town seems to have survived the closure of such a place despite it being sadly missed!

Just at the edge of the seafront I caught sight of an odd shaped building, this was a “Martello Tower”. The tower was not built as a seaside attraction, but to deter invading forces away from the shoreline. This fortification was built during the early C19th as part of a defence strategy against the Emperor Napoleon’s impending invasion. Quite a number of these turrets still exist throughout England although they are no longer fortresses of any kind. I am not sure about the name “Martello” really, I think it sounds like some sort of sweet LOL. We headed away from the tower and strolled along the seafront to enjoy the sights and sounds of the seaside.

From 2013 – 03.08.2013 – Clacton – Walton On the Naze Walk

It was not long before we had reminder that these beaches had not always been about sandcastles. Smugglers once roamed the local area and it was known that they used to load their cargo on the beach here at Clacton. Unlike the town of today, the beach was accessible between two marshes, making it more attractive to smugglers. Particularly, as the revenue men would have been unable to reach the beach quickly from their barracks in Colchester! Since the early C19th Clacton’s seashore now sees more tourists than Smugglers! During the first part of the C20th, the beach, saw another visitor, Sir Winston Churchill. He was forced to land at Clacton on sea in a naval plane.

As we walked further along the promenade, the beach and walkway became much more crowded. This was because we were approaching the centre of attraction for Clacton – “Clacton Pier”. The pier was full of amusements and rides, a far cry from it’s original use when it was built in 1871. Originally, the pier was used by steamboats to bring goods to the town, but it also brought many day trippers to the area. So it was not long before the pier was altered to include many light entertainments including it’s own pavilion. The pier suffered damage during Second World War and since then it has passed through several hands and despite improvements over the years, it suffered a decline. The current owners of pier have completely refurbished the bars and renewed the rides and hope that the pier will be around for a long time to come!

We headed away from the pier by walking up the hill under a Venetian style Bridge. It was constructed in the early C20th in order to provide a continuous walk through the seafront gardens, which had been landscaped on both sides of the cliffs. When we reached the top of the slope, we turned into a small amusement park which now resides in what would have once been part of these formal gardens. Taking a glance across to the other side of the bridge, the gardens were in full bloom, if we had time, it looked a nice place to sit and enjoy watching the world go by! We carried on walking through the maze of rides and past the crazy golf to find our way back to the seashore. We did stop, for a few moments, to take in the view, where we could see along the pier and both ways along Clacton beach.

From 2013 – 03.08.2013 – Clacton – Walton On the Naze Walk

We rejoined the promenade to continue our walk along the seafront, which seems to stretch on for quite some time. The whole walkway is part of the Clacton sea defences, which have been built and strengthened over the years. Some of the defences were built in 1889, a sure sign that the peoples of the area knew that the sea could cause a lot of problems along the coast. We have seen some of the coastal erosion when we walked to Hemsby, so it seems that Clacton is quite prepared. Strolling further along, we left the noise of Clacton behind and the beaches became much quieter. With the blue skies and shining sun it really was a lovely day for a walk, we were even treated to see a beautiful bird of prey just hovering by the side of the path, not taking any notice of us.

We followed the path up a slope and out on to a large expanse of open fields. The coast path seemed to blend into the landscaped as it was no longer defined by the cliffs which it shadowed. I could see a small notice board in the distance, so I took the opportunity to find out where we had walked. It was “Holland Haven Country Park”, the whole reserve is roughly 100 acres, which would be great to explore sometime! Not only does it contain fields, it has quite a lot of marshland and the park been designated an area of SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest). It has therefore been recognised that rare and varied flora grow here.

We decided to walk along the sea wall, rather than the dusty track next to the park. The sandy trail below us was actually a cycle route and was very popular, I was quite glad we were walking along the wall as avoiding the all the cyclists! Just beyond the cycle route the scenery seemed to changed from the wild unkempt fields, to immaculately looking green grass. We were walking past a Golf Course which was very well kept, apparently this particular course has been established here since 1895! The sea wall suddenly became more of a walkway once again, as we had reached quite a number of beachhuts, most of which were in use. It was quite difficult to negotiate this part of the footpath as it was so packed!

From 2013 – 03.08.2013 – Clacton – Walton On the Naze Walk

Just beyond the huts we were able to find a shelter to stop and have some lunch and rest for a while. As I gazed around, beachhuts seemed to line the entire shoreline. Apparently there are just over 1000 beach huts in this area, and have been a feature here since the Victorian era. Just behind the huts was a small town, this was Frinton-On-Sea. Frinton On Sea seems like a quiet seaside town as it does not have the amusements like Clacton On Sea, but nonetheless has the main attraction of a lovely beach 🙂 So much so that it has attracted visitors such as, Edward and Mrs Simpson! Rested, we continued on past the beachhuts and left Frinton-On-Sea behind.

The coast path had brought us to Walton Pier, which was very busy for late afternoon. This pier was originally built during the 1870’s but unfortunately it did not reach out into deep enough waters for boats to dock alongside. Therefore the pier was rebuilt in 1898 with a much longer length, so much so it had a small tramway on the pier! It has survived fire and storms and is still standing today. Our walk was to take us away from the seafront and to take us into Walton itself. Walton does hold its own charm and unlike some larger seaside places, shops are small and the entire place is not overcrowded by amusements. Walton’s peak as a seaside resort was prior to the second world war, it was a popular place to visit.

“The town lies between the sea-cliffs and Walton Creek, which is much frequented by sportsmen in quest of wild fowl, and on the head of the creek stand powerful tide and wind mills: the air is salubrious and bracing, and the beach, consisting of sand and fine shingle, is well adapted for bathing, and affords a pleasant promenade, the ebb tide leaving a hard smooth sand.”

Kelly’s Directory of Essex 1937

Sadly it was badly damaged by bombs during the war and with the pier being partially closed for a while meant the holiday trade ceased. Unfortunately post 1945 Walton’s Glory days have never really returned, which is a shame as it a quaint place to visit. At the end of the high street, was the parish church, “All Saints”. I was keen to note that this church was built in the late C19th and was to replace the original church in Walton, which fell into the sea in 1798! I can see why the church was built so far away from the cliff edge!

We ended our walk here for the day, it had been such a lovely day to walk along the prom 🙂 Please feel free to look through all the photos for this walk –

2013 – 03.08.2013 – Clacton – Walton On the Naze Walk

Our route was as follows –

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One response to “Clacton On Sea – Walton On the Naze Walk – 03.08.2013

  1. Pingback: Grand Union Canal – Alperton – Hayes – 06.10.2013 « Karen's Sponsored Walks

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