Adventures around Harlowwith PlusBus
The River Stort runs along one edge of Harlow and walking along its leafy banks, it's sometimes hard to believe that a huge town like Harlow is just the other side of the trees. The bus is perfect for one-way walks along the river. Besides the great waterside and woodland walks nearby, Harlow also has sculptures to spot, museums to visit and the unique and varied gardens of its visionary architect Frederick Gibberd. You can get to all these and more by bus. Regular trains arrive at Harlow Town from London, Cambridge and Stansted Airport. Just ask for a PlusBus ticket when you buy your train ticket and explore all day.
1. Riverside walks
The Harlow PlusBus ticket takes you all over town. It’s useful for linear walks along the Stort Valley, one of Harlow’s many hidden gems. The banks of the River Stort are just minutes away from Harlow Town train station on foot. They are rich in wildlife and art, including a mile-long sculpture trail. There are concrete cogs that reflect the lock’s industrial heritage and a block of sandstone carved with the words: “1769 – the Stort open to navigation – flowing into the Lea and onwards to the Thames. Then out to the sea and so to all the ports of the world.”
- How to get from Harlow Town railway station to the river bank: From the station doors, walk straight across the forecourt and into a narrow path just to the right of the soft play centre. Turn left along the pavement of the main road. Keep straight past a roundabout until you reach a grassy area on your left. Turn left onto any path and cross the big pedestrian bridge.
- Turn right beside the River Stort, soon following the path over a footbridge to the far side. Keep going for a couple of miles with the water on your right for a delightful riverside walk with a few sculptures along the way.
- Reaching a road, turn right past Harlow Mill Beefeater and cross the road to a bus stop. Catch any bus from this stop to reach Harlow’s town centre. Buses 508, 509 and 510 all serve this stop. Between them, they run roughly every ten minutes.
2. Visit Harlow Museum
The old stable block of Mark Hall Manor House houses exhibitions about the history of Harlow in the fascinating free museum and walled gardens. Outside, the sculpture-rich walled gardens have quince trees, medlars and figs, a 17th-century parterre, a rose garden and herbaceous border, and an original copper still from the Gilbey gin factory. Inside, you can find out more about Harlow’s development as a New Town, a huge collection of cycles including an old Penny Farthing, local prehistoric and Roman remains and lots more.
- How to get to Harlow Museum by bus: Buses 508, 509 and 510 from Harlow bus station to Stansted airport all stop at the museum as well as near the riverside Harlow Mill pub at the end of the walk from the station (see 1 above). Get off at the bus stop called Cycle Museum, which is five stops from the river or six stops from the bus station.
- The museum is open on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 9.30am to 3.30pm (with last entry at 3pm). For refreshments afterwards, you might like to time the end of your visit to the museum so that you can hop on hourly bus 59, which stops at Gilden Way, opposite Mayfield Farm with its bakery, shop and cafe. This is close to another of Harlow’s hidden gems, the wonderful Gibberd Garden (see 3 below).