ENGLAND 2018 - ORFORD NESS

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Photos © Ruud Leeuw

Orford Ness I had planned twice previously, but this time things worked out better. That is to say, it was too windy to see much birdlife, but the structures present here make for a fascinating hike and some fine photography.

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Orford Ness, 2018
A ferry shuttles the visitors across the River Ore, after a fee has been paid in the office on the quay

Orford Ness, 2018
Looking back on Orford, which we visited last year (see my ENGLAND 2017 report)

Orford Ness is a cuspate foreland (= a.k.a.cuspate barriers or nesses) shingle spit on the Suffolk coast in Great Britain.
It is linked to the mainland at Aldeburgh and stretching along the coast to Orford and down to North Weir Point, opposite
Shingle Street. And it is divided from the mainland by the River Alde, formed by longshore drift along the coast.

Orford Ness, 2018
Summer draught was setting in.

Orford Ness, 2018
A Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna; NL: Bergeend)
The common shelduck resembles a small short-necked goose in size and shape. It is a striking bird, with a reddish-pink bill,
pink feet, a white body with chestnut patches and a black belly, and a dark green head and neck. The wing coverts are white,
the primary remiges black, and the secondaries green (only showing in flight) and chestnut. The underwings are almost entirely white.
en.wikipedia.org:_Common_shelduck
www.wildfowl-photography.co.uk/identification/identshelduck.htm

Orford Ness, 2018

Orford Ness is now owned by the National Trust and is open to the public under the name 'Orford Ness National Nature Reserve', though access is strictly controlled to protect the fragile habitats and due to a residual danger to the public from the site's former use by the military.
Access is therefore only available by the National Trust ferry from Orford Quay on designated open days.
At the visitor center we were shown which trail we were allowed to follow, a major part was closed because of
birds breeding. Mind, the part we were allowed to visit was quite enough for our tired legs!
en.wikipedia.org:_Orford_Ness

 

Orford Ness, 2018
The Atomic Weapons Research Establishment had a base on the site, used for environmental testing.
Many of the buildings from this time remain clearly visible from the quay at Orford, including the distinctive 'pagodas'.
The buildings were designed to absorb any accidental explosion, allowing gases and other material to vent and dissipate in a directed
or contained manner. In the event of a larger accident, the roofs were designed to collapse onto the building, sealing it with
a lid of concrete and shingle.

Orford Ness, 2018

Orford Ness, 2018

Orford Ness, 2018

Orford Ness, 2018

The peninsula was formerly administered by the Ministry of Defence, which conducted secret military tests during both world wars and the Cold War.
The site was selected as the location for the Orfordness Beacon, one of the earliest experiments in long-range
radio navigation.
The Beacon was set up in 1929 and used in the pre-war era.
In the 1930s Orford Ness was the site of the first purpose built experiments on the defence system that would later be known as radar.

Orford Ness, 2018
Orford Ness is an internationally important site for nature conservation. It contains a significant portion of the European
reserve of vegetated shingle habitat, which is internationally scarce, highly fragile and very easily damaged.

Orford Ness, 2018

There are also photography tours, but they soon sell out.
Check : www.nationaltrust.org.uk/orford-ness-national-nature-reserve

Orford Ness, 2018

Orford Ness, 2018

Orford Ness, 2018
The Black Beacon

Orford Ness, 2018

Orford Ness, 2018

Orford Ness, 2018

Orford Ness, 2018

Orford Ness, 2018
Danger! Hazard Area!

Orford Ness, 2018

Orford Ness, 2018

Orford Ness, 2018
The military occupation of this site ended in 1987, but unexploded ordnance may still be around...

Orford Ness, 2018

Our visit to Orford Ness, 2018

In the late 1960s an experimental Anglo-American military over-the-horizon radar known as 'Cobra Mist' was
built on the peninsula. It closed in 1973.
During the late-1970s and early-1980s the site and building were re-used for the Orfordness transmitting station. This powerful mediumwave radio station – originally owned and run by the Foreign Office, then the BBC and, after privatisation in the 1990s, a series of private companies – was best known for transmitting the BBC World Service in English 24/7 to Continental Europe from September 1982 until March 2011.

The following year the site became disused until Radio Caroline began broadcasting from the site in Dec. 2017.
The area pictured above was off limits during our visit.

 

 

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