Hamford Water

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Hamford Water

Hamford Water is a shallow, tidal inlet on the coast of Essex, clogged with low islands and marsh: it is in appearance an estuary but it is fed only by minor streams, which appears as channels at low tide, such as the Landermere Creek and the Kirby Creek, and to seaward the Walton Channel (providing access to Walton-on-the-Naze on the south side of the water. Hamford Water lies between the Naze (and Walton-on-the-Naze) to the south and Harwich to the north. The water is one of marsh grasslands, creeks, mud and sand flats, salt marshes, islands and beaches.

The inlet is described by Natural England as "of international importance for breeding little terns and wintering dark-bellied brent geese, wildfowl and waders, and of national importance for many other bird species." Rare plants include hog's fennel and slender hare's-ear. The main invertebrates are worms and thin-shelled molluscs. The largest island, Horsey Island, can be reached on foot at low tide across The Wade from Kirby-le-Soken.

Within and around the water, 5,400 acres have been designated a biological Site of Special Scientific Interest.[1] It is also designated a Ramsar site,[2] a Special Protection Area,[3] and a Nature Conservation Review site; and most of it is a National Nature Reserve.[4]

Two small areas, Skipper's Island and John Weston Nature Reserve, are managed by the Essex Wildlife Trust.[5]

Most of Bramble Island (now part of the mainland) is used by Exchem for explosives testing.[6]

In literature

The area was used as the basis for Arthur Ransome's novel Secret Water.[7]


("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Hamford Water)


  1. SSSI listing and designation for Hamford Water
  2. Hamford Water: Ramsar Sites
  3. "Hamford Water". Joint Nature Conservation Committee. http://jncc.defra.gov.uk/page-2012-theme=default. 
  4. "Essex's National Nature Reserves". Natural England. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/essexs-national-nature-reserves/essexs-national-nature-reserves. 
  5. Skipper's Island: Essex Wildlife Trust
  6. Edge Walking No. 9, Tom Bolton
  7. Hardyment, Christina (1984). Arthur Ransome and Captain Flint's trunk. London: Jonathan Cape. p. 186. ISBN 0224029894.