Nacton Shores, located along the River Orwell in Suffolk, England, is part of a beautiful coastal village with a rich history and breathtaking natural beauty. With free parking nearby, visitors can take a walk to the picnic site and take a walk along the sand to witness the eroded cliffs where tree roots have fought to cling onto the land for generations, some of which now lie on the beach below.
Armed with my trusty Hasselblad 500cm and a choice of Portra 400 and Kentmere 400 film, I was ready to explore this beautiful corner of Suffolk and capture it’s unique character and charm.
The River Orwell and its banks are unique from a historical perspective, as most tidal estuaries in Britain are considered Crown Land, belonging to the reigning monarch. However, the River Orwell is the possession of the townspeople of Ipswich, granted by King Henry VIII to the Corporation, merchants, and port-men. This put the town in direct conflict with Harwich, located at the bottom of the river, over the ownership of the river, which was known as “Ipswich Water.”
As you carry on walking down, the cliff path slopes down to the river’s edge, where visitors can take in the view of the massive cranes of Felixstowe Container Port in the background before making their way back to Nacton along the sandy foreshore, taking care to avoid high tides.
One thing I didn’t realise until I arrived home and read more, was that the cliff is not actually sand, but exposed London Clay. This has revealed various fossils over time, including mollusks, crustaceans, and even shark teeth and bones of an early horse species known as Hyracothia. The area is also rich in evidence of volcanic ash, reminding us of the vastly different landscape that once existed in this ancient river valley.
My first visit to Nacton Shores was a true discovery of a hidden gem. Despite spending just an hour or so in the area, I felt like there was still so much more to explore and uncover. It’s a treasure trove of natural beauty and history.
I will definitely be returning in the coming months to uncover even more of what this area has to offer.
All images shot with a Hasselblad 500cm & Carl Zeiss Planar T* 80mm f/2.8 Lens on Portra 400 & Kentmere 400.
Develop and Scan by FilmDev (Noritsu)