by John | Jun 26, 2016 |

Stormy Weather: To the Lighthouse


The sky darkened, the wind howled and the heavens opened - a storm broke out shortly before we were to take the boat from Orford Quay. Not unlike Mrs Ramsay (To the Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf, 1927), the prospect of venturing to the Lighthouse appealed much more than the actual trip the Orfordness Lighthouse Trust arranged. Yet valiant in the face of the storm, bedecked in waterproofs, to the lighthouse we went. Our sentinel of the sea, having guided before now so many ships and fishing boats to safety, continued to stand, a welcome sight on the horizon of shifting shingle. Landing on the Ness, lightning zig-zagged its way across the sky, and rain continued to fall, but lighter, and we became all the gladder for having crossed the River Ore on this Sunday afternoon. Indeed, we saw the Ness - and lighthouse - in a different ‘light’.

One of the many wonders of Suffolk is the cathedral skies - skies of the most impressive sweep - and it is here that one truly can see the weather in play. Following Constable, founder of skying - to look up at the sky and study the clouds - we went skying as we walked along, marvelling at the gathering, dissolving and once more gathering of storm clouds above the Ness and sea, shooing away the finer cotton wool wisps. The sun wove in and out. The Ness, known for its desertlike bleak beauty, was this afternoon gloriously green, as a result of the rains and being part of the European Union’s LIFE Nature funding programme, which, for 20 years, has enabled work to prepare and maintain the site for public access, create lagoons, manage water levels, improve grazing and enhance the habitats for wildlife.

Reaching the end of the Ness path, we found our beloved lighthouse still standing tall, but, on climbing to the top, we saw just how the sea has stealthily stolen across the shingle. Soon the lighthouse will be cut off from the Ness completely; the door will open into the North Sea. The Trust explained the possible means of dismantling and preserving parts of the lighthouse, which it is still researching. A little boy asked how a helicopter would fly up the lighthouse. We think perhaps he meant to the lighthouse, but this is yet to be determined.

There will be two more trips to the lighthouse this summer. One on the 17th of July for locals and one on the 24th open to all. See here for further details.

Book your Orford accommodation for your trip to the lighthouse here.

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