|As you drive down the B1084 into Orford, it’s like stepping back in time. The narrow streets and fisherman’s cottages look the same now as when they were built. The 12th Century Royal Castle, of which the 90-foot high Keep survives, dominates the surroundings. Built by Henry II, between 1165 and 1173, for defence against invaders from the sea, underlining the political and commercial importance of the area at the time. Orford Castle’s Keep is remarkably preserved, little altered since it was built. The Castle also houses Orford museum and the view of Orford Ness from the top of the Keep is well worth the climb.
The National Trust now owns a large part of the spit at Orford Ness; which at just over 10 miles long is the largest of it’s kind in Europe. The Ness has had a number of uses, which include top secret military testing during both World Wars. The spit is now much quieter with the most frequent visitors being the large colony of gulls which have made it as their home. The spit has become a haven for bird-watching, the RSPB sanctuary at nearby Havergate Island has become home for a number of mating avocet pairs, which attract twitchers from all over Europe.
Orford was once one of the East of England’s main seaports, however the continual growth of the shingle spit across from the River Ore has caused commercial trade to decline over the years with only a small but still thriving fishing fleet remaining.
This is an almost magical place steeped in history with its ever shifting sandbanks revealing dozens of shipwrecks entombed off shore, some dating back to Roman Times.
|Where to Stay|
|Crown and Castle Hotel
20 bedrooms, all en-suite. Open all year round. Next to castle
Tel: 01394 450205
The Old Friary
Orford Cottages – A selection of luxury fully equipped self-catering holiday cottages for two to six people in Orford and Sudbourne.
|What to Do|
|Orford Castle (English Heritage)
Magnificent 90-foot high Keep with views across the river. Built by Henry II for coast defence in 12th Century.
Tel: 01394 450472. Website
Orford Ness (National Trust)
Tel: 07831 698298. Website.
RSBP Sanctuary on Havergate Island
|Where to Eat|
|Butley Orford Oysterage
Long established seafood restaurant serving Orford caught fish and oysters grown locally at nearby Butley Creek.
Tel: 01394 450277.
Crown and Castle
The Jolly Sailor Inn
The Kings Head