Our latest member event took us back to one of our yearly favourites – a leisurely walk and tour of Orfordness Lighthouse.
The 18th century building stands on the shingle spit of Orford Ness – a desolate, bleak landscape, but one that is also steeped in a rich and somewhat secretive history. Reachable only by a short boat ride across the river Ore, this area was used for secret military testing during the 20th century. The site has since been administered by the National Trust as a nature reserve and a Site of Special Scientific Interest.
The walk to the lighthouse was pleasant but testing, the shingle shifting and yielding underfoot. As the heavens opened, we arrived and enjoyed hot drinks and sandwiches as we took in our surroundings and entered the old lighthouse – a solitary bastion looking out over the windswept coast.
Our tour guides Mike and Lydia told us more about the history of the building and their eventual plans to preserve it – the lighthouse remains perilously close to the sea, with the shoreline having advanced more than 50 metres inland since the lighthouse’s construction in 1792. Despite recent measures to delay the sea’s advance it is thought that the lighthouse will need to be moved by 2020 before it collapses into the sea.
Our thanks to the Orfordness Lighthouse Trust and all of the volunteers who work to preserve the building and keep it open to the public. If you’re interested in finding out more about the lighthouse or the history of Orford Ness itself, visit their website.