Nacton Shore is a location along the River Orwell where London Clay is exposed in a small cliff and on the foreshore. Nacton Shore and Levington area has yielded a large number of reptile remains including one complete skeleton.
♦ Either: From the large A12 to A14 Roundabout, turn off towards ‘Levington’. Shortly after turning off, you will reach a junction with ‘Felixstow’ to the East and ‘Ipswich’ to the West. Head back towards Ipswich, shortly after, there is a road signposted ‘Nacton’. Take this road and follow it all the way down.
♦ Or: Not far after the Orwell Bridge heading North, you will reach the first major junction turn off for Ipswich, this should also be labeled ‘Nacton’. Follow signs for Nacton, You will reach a wooded area which the road will veer northwards. At this point there should be a turn off to ‘Orwell Park School’. Take this road and you will pass a church.
♦ You should pass the Orwell Park School, you will see a ‘T’ sign and a picnic sign, the road will turn into a narrow unmade track road through some woods. Follow this road all the way down and at the bottom, there will be a car park. From here there is a short footpath to the shore. Nacton cliffs are to the Right.
♦ Ref: 52.00619°N, 1.22373°E
FIND FREQUENCY: ♦ – Nacton area is very good for fossils, but most of the fossils are from Levington Cliffs which can be found in our separate guide. Nacton itself has a small cliff with areas of exposed clay and shingle. Fossils are much rarer than other London Clay locations simply because most of the foreshore can often be covered with grass and algae.
CHILDREN: ♦ – Because fossils are rare here, this location is not suitable for children wishing to collect fossils.
ACCESS: ♦♦ – Nacton is easy to get to, but the small Nacton Cliff has a large number of trees and soft areas, it is often the case that you will have to climb over or under fallen trees. This is the best area at Nacton, otherwise you need to walk East towards Levington. You can also find fossils on Nacton Shore area which is more suited to familes.
TYPE: – When you enter the beach Nacton Shore foreshore becomes apparent, but most of the rocks here are glacial. You need to walk Westwards where there is a small cliff and patches of single and clay on the foreshore.
Echinoid’s and Sponges can be found from the glacial flints when you first enter the foreshore. From the London Clay, sharks teeth are the most common find, but fish and reptile remains and Bivalves can also be found. Of course the London Clay also throws up occasional other surprises such as crustaceans, but these are much more rare from Nacton. At Nacton Shore, the area where you first enter the foreshore, fossils can also be found deposited from Levington and Nacton, derived fossils from the glacial beds can also be found. Most fossils can be found on the foreshore near the small cliff area, especially from within areas of fine shingle and London Clay. The fossils are washed from the London Clay. Check the large blocks of heavy London Clay, these where used many years ago for buildings including a roman church. The blocks often contain fossils.
Between Nacton cliffs and Levington in the area where there is a small 1/2 metre cliff made of glacial deposits, flints can be seen covering the foreshore. As you walk the Nacton Cliff, the beds change to London Clay which also becomes exposed on the foreshore.
Common sense when collecting at all locations should be taken and knowledge of tide times should always be noted. The London Clay often extends far out at low tide. The mud flaps are extremely dangerous and areas of soft clay can suddenly take you by surprise. Just when you believe the surface is hard and stable, your next foot could end you in serious trouble. In the past there has been one death as the result of sinking sand and sinking clay.
The best advice is to always tread carefully, if planning to visit during winter months, take a long stick to prod before you walk. Stay away from the mud flaps completely. If possible take someone else with you and ensure you have a mobile phone.
The fossils from Nacton are usually found on the foreshore, however blocks of hard London Clay also contain fossils, so it is best to take a pick which is useful for the clay and hitting any blocks. Most fossils you will only need good eyes for.
This site is an SSSI. This means you can visit the site, but hammering the bedrock is not permitted. For full information about the reasons for the status of the site and restrictions please download the PDF from Natural England – SSSI Information – Nacton