Fragile Beauty


The spit's isolation and closure by the military for most of the twentieth century made it a haven for wildlife. The flat, open landscape, particularly the alien shingle terrain, will remove you from busy mainland concerns. This is a fragile place and easily disturbed. Please tread carefully to preserve its beauty for future generations.

 © Simon Bradford


The grazing marshes on the Ness are flat and open with pools of water that expand and contract through the season providing habitat for breeding birds. Sheep graze to provide the varied grass height the birds prefer, eating around the military debris. The King's Marsh brackish lagoons provide an important habitat for invertebrates.

 © Simon Bradford


Separating the marshes from the shingle is Stony Ditch, a tidal creek. Mud flats provide a huge food reservoir for wading birds, such as curlew, redshank and oystercatchers. Lining Stony Ditch is salt-marsh that flowers pink and purple through the seasons; sea lavender replacing sea thrift in summer, then tall sea aster in the autumn.



A strange, undulating desert of shingle with rows of long flat mats of strange and lovely plants. Here sea campion blooms white and yellow horned poppy adds a cheerful note. This is an extremely rare and fragile habitat that supports scarce natural communities of living things. The structure of the shingle is formed by the actions of the sea and other processes to provide a natural matrix that is crucial to the survival of these communities, particularly in this hostile environment.

The matrix is very fragile and easily disturbed so please respect the value and nature of the habitat and its associated wildlife and keep to the marked trails. Thank you.