Orford orbital

Richard Tyson enjoys some interesting views on quiet paths

Park on the dirt road opposite the primary school. The walk starts on the track going away from the town. Just after the last house, bear left across a field on a well-defined path. When you reach a dirt track (400 yards) go left on this track. Beyond the track the land falls away into Sudbourne Park (private) and, as the leaves had fallen and the weather was sunny, we could see through the trees as far as distant dark-green Tunstall Forest. As you continue, you can see the River Ore, with Orfordness and the sea beyond.

At a group of conifers your route swings left towards the sea, passing some enclosures for geese and horses. Start to descend but pause to enjoy the view of Orford Castle and the lighthouse on the Ness, itself with the sea beyond.

Reach a tarred lane and go right along the lane for 350 yards. Your route goes left at a footpath sign, down a track towards the sea. The road leads to Gedgrave Hall ahead, then Butley Ferry, and could be used to extend the walk by three miles, returning to Orford along the river wall (a permissive path open to the public).

When you reach the river, the next stage is along the river wall. Turn left. The land in front is Suffolk’s only island – Havergate, owned by the RSPB, which runs monthly pre-booked trips for visitors. At Chantry Point a path across the marsh short-cuts the route along the wall. Curve round towards the Quay passing places to sit for a short break while admiring the view of river, castle and town.


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At the Quay, continue straight ahead, past the Orford Sailing Club, where your path goes along the top of the earth bank. Pass through a gate; then, 250 yards further, go left down steps, continuing on a path (currently not waymarked). Bear slightly left across a field. At this point I was surprised to see 10 deer coming towards me along the side of the next field. When they got my scent, the leader paused, then led them away across a field and into the woods.

Now bear left, leaving some allotments on your right. When you reach tarred land, turn right; then, in 150 yards, follow a footpath on the right. Next, go left in 20 yards, crossing the middle of the field and enter a wood just to the right of a house. Wind through the wood, then cross the next field diagonally to a stile at the far corner, next to an electricity post. Turn left along the lane and keep right at the next junction, continuing on the lane for 500 yards. Turn right at the crossroads. Descend past a brick building and rise up again (still on the tarred lane).

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At the top, opposite the farm road, go left on another lane. Flocks of fieldfares (thrush-sized winter visitors from Scandinavia) wheeled in the air as they searched for food. Isolated Sudbourne Church is down to the right but your route is left at a bridleway after a short descent. Another group of hungry deer emerged from the trees and, getting our scent, bounded over the fields towards the forest.

With your back to Sudbourne Church, the bridleway goes along headlands and passes a wood. Soon the B1084 is reached – go directly over on to the dirt-track footpath opposite. In 250 yards turn left between hedges, then continue to the start at the school.

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