Orford is located on the River Alde, which is separated from the North Sea by the long shingle spit of Orford Ness. This protection created a sheltered anchorage and Orford was an important port during the middle ages. However as with several ports along the Suffolk Coast, the changing shingle coastline resulted in the decline of the port and today it is used only as an anchorage for pleasure craft. The numerous boats anchored in the river do however offer an interesting subject for photography, which can work as both a morning or evening location. There are also a couple of old wrecked boats in the mud flats that make good subjects.

Orford Castle is a very well preserved octagonal tower built during the reign of Henry II. It was once surrounded by a walled enclosure, however this has long since disappeared, leaving only the central keep standing proudly on a slight hill over the village.

Orford is also the access point for Orford Ness Nature Reserve. This is located long shingle spit of Orford Ness which is effectively an island. Due to its remoteness, Orford Ness was used for a variety of military purposes, from the development of aviation during WW1 to the development of nuclear weapons after WW2, so a visit to the Ness can cover an odd combination of wildlife and military history.

Location and Parking

Post Code: IP12 2NU

There is free parking at the quay, however cars cannot be left unattended here in case of boat movements. The postcode above is for the Orford Quay car park, which is only a couple of minutes walk from the quayside itself.

Ruined Boats

From the quay, there are a couple of ruined boats in site to the right, reached by a path along the riverbank. The boats are stuck in mud, so wellingtons are advised if you wish to get close to the boats.


Old Boat At Orford

Old Boat Detail

Stuck In The Mud

Orford Anchorage

From the quayside at Orford, there are views out to the boats anchored in the river. This offers a wide expansive view, which looks especially good at sunset.

Sunset At Orford

One of the challenges of photographing moored boats is to find a composition that gives separation to each vessel. This can involve moving about left and right and up and down to find the perfect angle, however sometimes some overlapping is unavoidable. In the image below, I’ve found about the only position that gives each boat its own space.

Boats At Orford

These small boats were tied up right under the quay, so a wide angle lens was required to bring them into the composition along with the river behind. A little bit of editing has been done bottom right to tidy up the ropes tying the boats to the quay.

Boats At Orford

Orford Castle

To reach Orford Castle from the quay, walk back up Quay Street and follow this road as it turns into first Church Street then Market Hill. Where Market Hill bends to the left, follow it past a small car park to reach the castle.

The castle was built in the 12th Century at a time when Henry II was trying to establish his rule following the civil war between King Stephen and Henry’s mother Matilda. The castle was intended to curb the power of the Earl of Suffolk Hugh Bigod in particular. Originally the castle was made up of a central keep and surrounding curtain wall. Only te central keep survives, but this is very well preserved, and is open to visit by the public.

Set on a slight hill above the village, the tower makes a fine subject, especially under evening light.

Orford Castle


Orford Castle

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