Orford Ness National Nature Reserve

Orford Ness Orford Suffolk

Just offshore from Orford, Orford Ness National Nature Reserve is a spit of land that has all but blocked Orford from the sea since Tudor times, and whose assorted mud flats and marshes are nowadays prime feeding areas for wildfowl and waders. The National Trust runs boat trips across from Orford Quay, and a five-mile hiking trail threads its way along the spit. It's a bleak, rather uninviting spot, if we're honest, but that's part of the appeal. It's full of mystery and danger too: the Ness was once a top secrete site, used during the Second World War and in the decades of the Cold war for weapons-testing; it's thought that atomic weapons may have been tested here,  and even now there is reckon to be decent amount of unexploded ordnance lying about – one reason why it's worth keeping to the designated paths – and some of the military buildings have been converted to birdwatching platforms. There are small exhibitions on the history of Orford Ness, including its military connections, and the conspiracy theories that go with them. But above all it's a gloriously natural and unique spot, the largest shingle ridge in Europe, with plenty to tempt you across from Orford Quay.

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