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Group visits to Orford Ness

A group of people sitting in Orford Ness National Nature Reserve's boat Octavia as it is being driven across the river.
Visitors being driven across the River Alde to Orford Ness in Octavia | © National Trust Images/Chris Lacey

Orford Ness is a perfect destination for a group day out, whether you’re looking for a guided walking tour to focus on its landscape, wildlife and military history, or a special interest tour to explore the reserve from a particular angle. Find out the kinds of tours available at Orford Ness, the best time of year to visit as a group, how to book and more.

Group tours

When you visit as a group, you have the chance to take a tour that covers the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment (AWRE) area, which is not usually open to the general public. For health and safety reasons, access inside the AWRE buildings isn’t permitted, but the tours will take you as close to the buildings as possible.

Available tours include:

Guided walking tours

The Ness is best experienced on foot, and we offer a choice of half-day walks (three hours) or full-day walks (six hours) to explore the site. The tours cover the landscape and wildlife of the Ness alongside its military history, but we can adapt the subject matter to suit the interests of your group.

Group bookings are for a minimum of 12 but we can accommodate up to 24 people on a guided walking tour.

Guided trailer tours

If you prefer not to walk, we can arrange tours of Orford Ness in our vehicle-drawn passenger trailer. While most of the tour will be driven, some short walks will be required if you’d like to see the displays inside buildings.

Group bookings are for a minimum of 12 but we can accommodate up to 24 people on the trailer.

Special interest tours

We can also tailor tours towards specific interests such as photography. The tours usually last all day and include the support of a ranger and professional experts.

Special interest tours are normally operated on days when we are closed to the general public to allow for a closer look at the landscape of Orford Ness. These tours are usually limited to 12 people.

a multi-generational family walking on a concrete path on a sunny day at Orford Ness National Nature Reserve, Suffolk
A family visiting Orford Ness National Nature Reserve, Suffolk | © National Trust Images/Chris Lacey

Free familiarisation visits for group leaders

If you're planning a group visit you can request our free Travel Trade Pass and you and a friend or colleague will gain free entry to over 300 of our places throughout England, Wales and Northern Ireland for 12 months. There’s nothing quite like seeing or experiencing somewhere for yourself to help you plan a successful visit. To receive your pass, call 0344 800 2329 or email us at

Who is eligible for free entry?

Registered tourist board guides (on production of a valid badge), coach drivers and tour leaders escorting groups of 15 or more. National Trust members also receive free entry, so it is at your discretion whether to refund the entrance fee to members if you have included it in your package – this is not refunded by the National Trust.

Members must bring their current membership cards with them to avoid paying the full group rate. If any of your group would like to join the National Trust please direct them to our Membership page or call 0344 800 1895.

Planning your group visit

We welcome groups to Orford Ness throughout the visitor season, from Easter to October. However, as space for group visits and tours is limited during the peak summer months of July and August, we encourage you to consider visiting in our quieter periods. This also means that you’ll be able to explore the Ness on days when we’re not usually open to the general public.

How much time to spend at Orford Ness

We recommend that you allow at least three hours for your visit, so that your group has a good overview of the site. If you are looking for a longer tour, we also offer full day options.

Get in touch about bringing a group to Orford Ness

For more information and to book, please contact us on 01394 450900 or email and we’ll be happy to discuss your requirements. As we have limited capacity, we ask that you give us as much notice as possible to avoid disappointment.

Please note that group bookings are subject to availability and operational requirements. We recommend that you don’t make any travel or other arrangements until we’ve confirmed your tour booking.

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Group visits frequently asked questions 

Visiting us with a group? Then our answers to your frequently asked questions might help with any question you may have.