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“A strange sense of peace”

Orford Ness National Nature Reserve
Ranked #5 of 34 things to do in Woodbridge
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: The biggest shingle spit in Europe was a top-secret military site from 1913 to the 1980s.
Shrewsbury, England, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
108 reviews
64 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 102 helpful votes
“A strange sense of peace”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed November 6, 2012

Orford Ness stood out as a must-see attraction in the National Trust handbook... 'Visit a World War Bomb test site!' and this is the same Trust that mainly looks after houses and gardens.
My Partner and I took a trip out on a wonderful summers morning in August 2012 to the village of Orford as this is where the boat leaves from to access the Nature Reserve.
The nearby car-park is 'Pay & Display' but on-road parking is free (The locals don't seem to like it though evident by the polite signs) and it's a short 5-minute walk from here to the quay at the end of the village. The National Trust office is easy to spot in the loading area and when we arrived there was a small queue going out of the door but it only took about 5-minutes to reach the desk.
The lady was very polite and booked us on a boat (the next one had just been filled) in 20-minutes time explaining that they could only take around 15 people across at a time. NT Members have to pay for the boat ride but access to the Reserve is free (Normally £4). The boat ride is a short trip across and on reaching the Ness we were greeted by a friendly volunteer who explained about the area and when to catch boats back. 'Don't stray off the path' was the main concern given to us as bombs still come to the surface as the shingle moves throughout the year... sounds scary!
We were given a map and sent on our way for what has to be one of the quietest and most peaceful walks in all my life. The main routes make for about 2-miles (and 2-miles back) with a small toilet block and information building but apart from that this is a real wilderness from start to finish. The first part of the walk was through long grass and small marsh areas but eventually the path reaches the abandoned war buildings and test sites which, aside from being deadly quiet and lifeless, made me feel a bit uneasy and spooked. This isn't a gimmick for the masses but a real example of just how serious the World Wars really were and one of the test centres is accessible to the general public. However, a large area of the buildings is only open for special events and booked tours but most of them are visible from the path.
We sat and enjoyed a picnic in the mid-day sun and the absolute silence in the air was magical... who said the UK was over-crowded?

On returning to the boat we had a chat with the friendly volunteer before heading back to Orford. This really is a magical place both for the peace and quiet but for the eeriness and spooky remains of the War camp. Do remember that the island has very few facilities and most of the walk is very open with no shelter so it could be easy to burn on a hot day. And also book ahead! the boat is very small and numbers limited so make sure you don't get turned away on your visit.

Visited August 2012
1 Thank Matthew M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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172 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
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English first
Ipswich, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
27 reviews
16 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 20 helpful votes
“Great day out”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 30, 2012

HAve been trying to get here for about 3 years, you have to get here by boat, the boat only runs certain days of the week, more in summer though, and you uhave to get here early to book. One year we came on the wrong day, another time the boat was a;ready fully booked by the time we got there, but this year we had learnt the tricks, got there early enough - boats don't start till 10 I think it was, after about 11 - 11.30 they are all booked up, we got there about 10.30, and there was quite a queue. Worth it though. Interesting, informative, a lovely walk round, with marshes, the shingle, finding out about the old buildings and the history, the lighthouse. We were lucky enough to go on one of the sunny and warm days of the summer, so it was a very pleasant day out, but quite a lot of walking, my 7 year old needed a piggy back at times.

Visited August 2012
Thank chunkeymonkey4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ipswich, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
1 review
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“walk in time”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 17, 2012

loved the ferry over and walking back in time fascinating. Walks are clearly marked and easy on the feet.

1 Thank yaga65
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sheffield, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
62 reviews
30 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 38 helpful votes
“Interesting site”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed September 29, 2012

Enjoyed our visit. It was interesting to see this unique place. We didn't see a lot of wildlife but the walk around the area was very pleasant, as was the short ferry ride across the river.

Visited September 2012
Thank kaswan
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
15 reviews
5 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
“Fresh air and history”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed September 29, 2012

Loved my visit, from the ferry ride, to the walks, to the interesting displays and artefacts. Not to be missed

Visited September 2012
Thank Klesley
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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