|Naze Tower, Walton on the Naze|
This is hardly a new phenomenon. After all, Daniel Defoe observed the same when he visited on his tour: "The sea gains so much upon the land here, by the continual winds at S.W. that within the memory of some of the inhabitants there, they have lost above 30 acres of land in one place."
|Collapsing cliff, Walton on the Naze|
We confined ourselves to the Naze, parking near its impressive tower, 'erected by the Trinity House men', as Defoe observed. (Confusingly, my paperback first edition of Pevsner (1954) said it was built in 1796, but all the information pointed to 1720 as the date of origin.) The tower is creeping ever closer to the cliff edge as the Naze recedes into the North Sea. Like Orford Ness Lighthouse, therefore, which on a clear day can be seen from the top of the Naze tower, there is doubt whether the building will still be there in fifty years' time.
|Naze Tower panorama|
Descending to the beach, the effects of erosion are all the more obvious. Dotted along the shoreline are military installations - pill boxes and gun emplacements (I think), which presumably once defended the Naze itself, but which have since slumped to be consumed by the tide.
|Pillbox on the beach|
Like Orford Ness, the Naze was a landscape that was requisitioned for military purposes during the Second World War. The Naze tower was adopted as a communications mast, while weaponry was tested on the Naze itself (now a nature reserve and SSSI).
|Naze Tower during WW2|
|London Clay and Red Crag|
Remains such as these are abundant in the friable cliff face; several family groups had brought paintbrushes and buckets, presumably to carefully excavate the remains of animals who lived millions of years ago. In a crumbling section of the cliff we found examples of fossilised wood, and marvelled at just how ancient these slivers of timber were.
|Fossilised wood in London Clay|
Walton on the Naze might be considered every bit as romantic as Dorset's Jurassic coast. Perhaps it should be marketed as the Neogenic Coast, and seek World Heritage Status. As it is, I was struck by the first signpost we saw upon reaching the Naze tower: an injunction against illegal caravanning on the Naze.
There may be some improvements needed in how Walton presents itself as a destination; yet an afternoon here is time well spent indeed.