Groynes And Beaches At Walton Frinton And Holland-on-Sea

There are clear differences between the beaches at Walton, Frinton, Holland and Clacton.

There are also differences at different sections of the beach at Walton and Holland.

A FOI request revealed that 4 times more has been spent repairing the groynes at each of Walton and Holland compared with Frinton.  About £40k since 2004 at each of Walton and Holland but only £10k at Frinton.  However Frinton has probably the best beaches in the area.

There are differences in how the groynes are constructed and also their size and spacing.

At Frinton and Walton wooden boards are bolted to wooden uprights. Typically each board spans 3 uprights.

At Holland and Clacton the uprights are usually concrete, though there are some new wooden uprights.  Both the wooden and concrete uprights have grooves in which the planks are slotted into.  This seems inherently  less secure than bolting the boards as

  1. Each plank only spans two uprights.
  2. The grooves become worn as the sea wiggles the boards, eventually the grooves are so worn that the boards simply fall out.

I have been told  people at cafes on Holland sea front saw new boards being installed in 2009/10, only to fall out and be washed away with the first high tide.


The uprights at Holland are unsupported whereas at Frinton and Walton some are supported


New plank bolted on at Walton


The other difference is the length and spacing of the groynes.   In some places all the groynes are the same length, in others there are alternate short and long groynes.

I have estimated the length and spacing of the groynes by pacing   While pacing may not be the most accurate method of measuring it gives an indication.


The Length and Spacing of Groynes in my paces
Length short
Naze – north of cafe
Naze – south of cafe
Walton – opposite Standley road
112 (143)
Walton – south of Albion groyne
Frinton – opposite Cliff Way
Frinton – Whalings
EA controlled beach
between Frinton and Walton
Effectively no breakwaters
Holland Haven
Gunfleet Sailing Club

The groynes at Frinton are at least twice the length of the groynes at Holland, and they are closer together. On top of that they are in a reasonable state of repair, unlike the groynes at Holland which almost entirely consist of forelorn uprights.

I do not understand why replacement uprights at Holland have groves.  TDC also repair the groynes at Frinton and Walton, it must be obvious that bolting planks to the uprights is a far superior method.

There are separate numbering schemes

  • Frinton & Walton Starts with 1 at the southmost groyne of Whalings and goes to 99 at the Naze
  • Holland Clacton starts at Holland Haven and are numbered going south

Perhaps the style of the breakwaters and the numbering dates from the days of separate Urban District councils.

Groyne 84 East Terrace Walton

North of groyne 84, the wooden groynes are longer and closer together than those south of groyne 84.    The following picture clearly shows a difference both with

  • the level of the sand – 5 foot lower on south side I reckon
  • how far in the sea has come – 38 paces different between north and south

Groyne 84 Walton on Naze

looking south from groyne 84

looking north from groyne 84

There is clearly far more beach to the north than to the south of groyne 84.

Perhaps the length and separation of the groynes has something to do with this.

Note these pictures near groyne 84 were not take at low tide on 23 April.

Low Tide 23 April

I have posted lots of photographs of the beach and groynes.  However there was a 0.7m low tide on 23 April so here are some more.

Notice how despite being 120 paces long, or more, the sea has gone past the end of the groynes.  This does not happen at Holland even though the groynes there are half the length.

whalings at bottom of second avenue looking south


whalings at bottom of second avenue looking south


looking down and south from cliff way


on beach by cliff way looking north


walton near Albion looking south towards pier

naze park looking south towards pier


naze looking north towards last groynes


Holland Haven looking north towards Frinton – EA controlled section of sea wall and beach


groynes on EA section of beach at Holland Haven


These groynes are clearly dangerous despite being almost completely broken.


has the steel fence been put on the wrong side of the path?


It certainly narrows the footpath on top of the wall and forces walkers closer to the unprotected edge which is surely more dangerous?

Why Do We Need Groynes Or A Beach?

Groynes help create and maintain the beach.  But they need to be kept in a good state of repair and they need to be sufficiently long and sufficiently close together.

How long and how close?

Well that depends on the how the wind and tides are behaving and their affect can vary along a stretch of coastline.

However the groynes at Holland-on-Sea are clearly

  • too short
  • too far apart
  • terrible state of disrepair

Why do we need a beach anyway?

As far as I can tell there are 2 reasons

  1. People will come to the beach if there is a sandy beach.  They are not particularly attracted by cafes.  After all there are none by the beach at Frinton and people still come.  People are unlikely to come and sit on a pile of gravel, clay or a beach with wires sticking out.
  2. The beach helps keep the sea away from the sea wall.  The longer the sea is washing against the sea wall – the more it will be eroding it.  The ideal situation is where there is a buffer of dry sand as there is where Butlins used to be.

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