A ferry shuttles the visitors across the River Ore, after a fee has been paid in the office on the quay
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
Street. And it is divided from the mainland by the River Alde, formed by longshore drift along the coast.
Summer draught was setting in.
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.
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!
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.
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
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 is an internationally important site for nature conservation. It contains a significant portion of the European
of vegetated shingle habitat, which is internationally scarce, highly fragile and very easily damaged.
There are also photography tours, but they soon sell out.
Check : www.nationaltrust.org.uk/orford-ness-national-nature-reserve
The Black Beacon
- in june 2020 Orford Ness posted on Facebook: 'Last week we marked 25 years of being open to the public and
today (18Jun20) we mark the 24th anniversary of the opening of the restored 1928 Black Beacon. Originally an experimental
rotating loop navigation beacon, it was later used for telemetry during bombing trials.'
Danger! Hazard Area!
The military occupation of this site ended in 1987, but unexploded ordnance may still be around...
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.