Suffolk's "top secret" nature reserve should become more accessible with the introduction of a new ferry later this summer.

A new landing craft is being built for the National Trust’s Orford Ness, which will provide step-free access for the first time to the former military site, which is now a haven for wildlife.

The nature reserve is currently accessed by a ferry from Orford Quay, which at low tide, can mean walking down a number of steep steps to access the boat.

East Anglian Daily Times: The current Orford Ness ferry can be difficult for those with accessibility issues.The current Orford Ness ferry can be difficult for those with accessibility issues. (Image: Paul Geater)

However, the new craft will allow wheelchair users, families with buggies and those unable to use steps, to access the Ness for the first time when it launches later this year.

Once on Orford Ness - which was a top secret military site for most of the 20th century - most of the tracks are flat, level and hard surfaced, but until now, getting across the river has been a barrier for many visitors.

Glen Pearce, Property Operations Manager, said: “In recent years we've strived to make Orford Ness more accessible to our visitors.

"We’ve got a range of mobility vehicles, an accessible toilet and most of the paths are accessible, but getting onto the ferry to make the short river crossing is simply not possible for many of our visitors.

"We’re really pleased that after many months of planning, work is now underway on the new specially designed craft that will enable so many more people to visit in the future.”

The 12-metre craft is currently being built in Portsmouth by PDL Marine.

East Anglian Daily Times: The new ferry is being built in Portsmouth.The new ferry is being built in Portsmouth. (Image: National Trust)

As well as providing better access for visitors, the new landing craft will also provide greater flexibility for staff and volunteers bringing large equipment and vehicles on site.

Mr Pearce added: “At the moment moving equipment on and off the Ness can be difficult so the new craft will give us much more flexibility and make it easier to carry out important conservation work.

"Even the flock of rare breed sheep will benefit from the new craft, as they will be taking the craft across the water to help graze the landscape during the summer months when it’s ready.”