Tucked away Suffolk village with a nuclear secret

There’s a big secret hidden amongst the chocolate box cottages of this Suffolk seaside village that’s also perfect for foodies

The Suffolk coast has seen something of a boom over lockdown as many turn to staycations rather than travel abroad.

Suffolk and Norfolk have always been popular seaside destinations for people living in Cambridgeshire as they are just a short drive for many.

The Suffolk villages of Southwold, Aldeburgh and Thorpeness are clearly directed towards tourists, but if you’re looking for something a little less lively then the little fishing village of Orford might be somewhere to go.

Full of gorgeous little chocolate box fisherman’s cottages, the village lies on the River Alde, downriver from Aldeburgh.

It’s known for Orford Castle, a polygonal tower keep that visitors can tour all the way from the basement and each level until the roof with its magnificent views.

It’s hard not to love the sleepy village that not only offers delicious oysters and gourmet chocolate but was also used as a testing site for the atomic bomb in the 50s. It really has it all!

Foodie paradise

There’s not much shopping, but Orford is definitely a foodie’s dream. The Pump Street bakery and chocolatier is a popular favourite with many visitors. The bakery, as well as providing traditional bread also has plenty of sweet treats and serves coffees and hot drinks.

Its chocolate and drinking chocolate can be found in luxury food shops like Culinaris in Cambridge and even places across London.

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Because of lockdown you currently have to order through one of the bakery’s windows and get your items through another. For those looking for a photo opportunity, the bakery’s pink walls (the traditional colour of Suffolk buildings) are very popular on Instagram.

Orford is also home to the famous seafood company Pinney’s of Orford. Pinney’s runs its own shop on the quay. Their smoked fish is done in the village, and oysters, mussels and more are caught locally.

Pinney’s also have their own restaurant, the Buttley Orford Oysterage, which is a no-frills seafood lover’s paradise. It’s also one of the most well-regarded restaurants in the county and is endlessly getting top reviews.

There are many lovely walks along river on the dykes, where you can look down into the village with its small tower and large church.

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Orford’s nuclear secret

And if you look across the river, you may get a hint at this tranquil little Suffolk village’s secret. Across the river is Orford Ness, an island that separates the village from the sea.

Now a nature reserve that can be explored, without dogs, at certain times of the year, there are a collection of strange-looking buildings called pagodas that almost resemble temples of Ancient Greece.

In the 50s the military used the pagodas on the island as test labs to conduct environmental tests on the atomic bomb.

No nuclear material was said to be involved, but the high explosive initiator was present. In case of an accident, the tests were carried out remotely and designed to absorb an explosion.

The buildings are now the only remnants of this once well-kept secret. At certain times of the year, visitors can tour the intriguing site.

Scroll on for a photo tour of Orford.

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