273. Aldeburgh to Orford

With some nice weather forecasted I decided to continue my journey down the coastline of Suffolk. So after dropping my daughter off at Birmingham Airport I continued along the M6 and A14 towards Suffolk.

I drove and parked in the small village of Orford, a beautiful and charming place to visit. I had to get there early, as there is only one bus out of Orford in a day and that is at 07:05. In retrospect I could have used The Coastal Accessible Transport Service which is available to the general public, with certain services being, understandably, only available to local residents. The bus was bang on time and I was told they were not charging until a few more weeks hence…I did not argue. I got dropped off in Woodbridge and had 50 minutes to wait until I caught the #64 to Aldeburgh. The total cost of the fare from Orford to Aldeburgh was £3.80….not bad value!

I got dropped off at the Fort Green car park in Aldeburgh and continued down Orford Ness, a 10 mile long shingle spit. I was heading for the Martello Tower in the distance. It was a sunny day with a fresh breeze that would keep me cool for most of the day. I arrived at the Martello Tower and met a guest who was staying in the tower. The Tower is owned by The Landmark Trust, a British Conservation Charity founded in 1965. The guest was just on his way out, but he did say that a lot of the original features of The 1812 Tower were still intact.

A short distance after the Martello Tower, no further access south is possible along Orford Ness, as the land was previously used for MOD purposes. I had spoken to the local chap driving the Orford bus in the morning and he said that because no -one from the MOD could guarantee that no ordnance was still around, the land remained out of bounds. However, the southern part of The Ness is a Nature Reserve and is accessible by a ferry service operatig out from Orford, my intended destination.

I retraced my steps back towards Aldeburgh but turned off to follow a footpath along the River Alde. The footpath encircled Aldeburgh Marshes, before leading me back towards Aldeburgh. Looking at the river bank it could have been possible to walk furrher westwards along it, but no paths were marked and I had a long way to travel without the need to double-back. I arrived on the A1094 and continued along a roadside path westwards. I was soon joined by the Suffolk Coastal Path. After the Golf Club, the Suffolk Coastal Path became The Sailors Path, which would continue through Hazlewood Marshes and Blackheath Wood all the way to the first bridging point over the Alde at Snape Maltings. The path was a joy to walk along and offered good shade from the midday sun.

Martello Tower on Orford Ness
Looking south down towards Orford Ness and The River Alde
Waling on duck-boards near Hazelwood Marshes
Looking across to Snape Maltings
The quay at Snape Maltings

I crossed over the River Alde at the Snape Bridge and could see that the Snape Maltings, which is now a large Arts Complex, was very busy. I continued along the Suffolk Coast path, which hugged the shore of the Alde. Shortly after the village of Ilken, all footpaths ceased and I headed along quiet narrow lanes towards High Street, where a footpath crossed over grassy fields back towards the River Alde. I finally emerged back on the opposite bank of the river to what I had been walking around some 5 hours previously. The wind had got up and the River Alde was quite choppy now.
I looked across the river towards the Martello Tower where I had been in the morning. I met two ladies who enquired about the way back to Orford via the Orford Loop. They had no map and I advised that they return to Orford via the Sea Bank, the way they had come. I continued on along the sea bank which followed the River Alde southwards, with the shingle Spit of Orford Ness on the opposite side of the river. The sea bank seemed to drag on forever. Most of the top of the sea bank had short grass, but in some parts it was quite long. Needless to say I was glad to arrive at the Orford and walked up past Orford castle to the square. A very enjoyable walk in a lovely part of the country.

Heading towards Ilken cliff
Typical Suffolk thatched cottage
Looking across the River Aldeburgh to Aldeburgh
Heading south along the Sea Bank
Looking across The River Alde to the old Radar station on Orford Ness
Orford Castle
The square in Orford

Distance today = 21.5 miles

Total distance = 4,948 miles




2 thoughts on “273. Aldeburgh to Orford”

  1. I couldn’t remember the last bit of your walk, and then I remembered I missed out Orford entirely. When I did this section the little ferry wasn’t running and Orford was a dead end. Like you, I really enjoyed the marsh and woodland section between Aldeburgh and Snape Maltings. They hold poetry and literary festivals at Snape Maltings. Very upmarket.


  2. Hi Ruth, a shame because Orford is very attractive. Although not marked on the OS maps a footpath does continue all the way around Gedgrave Marshes to the ferry at Butley. This footpath is actually a Licenced Footpath, the same really as a Permissive footpath. When I do the next section I will have have to head back in land slightly to get to Chillesford; although I am very tempted to continue the 1.5 miles along the sea bank to join up with a public footpath that stops in the middle of nowhere from the north.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: