Car-free adventures aroundBraintreeEssex
Roman roads and Flemish weavers, nature reserves and discount shopping malls… Braintree has a long and varied history. Just over an hour from London, this Essex town has plenty to offer the car-free visitor. In the countryside nearby, you can find medieval barns with Knights Templar connections, disused railway lines, and gardens designed by Harold Peto.
1. Braintree Village
Braintree Village is an outlet shopping centre. It is on the doorstep of the Braintree Freeport railway station, served by direct the line from Braintree, Chelmsford and London Liverpool Street. Locally, you can also catch the hourly bus 133 from Braintree bus station.
- The outlet village has more than 70 well known brands among its shops including BOSS, Polo Ralph Lauren, Radley London and Armani. They are all offering up to 60% off the recommended retail price, making this Essex outlet a magnet for shoppers.
- It’s great for a family day out too, with big name restaurants and a nearby Cineworld. The Namco Funscape Amusement Centre is next door, just five minutes’ walk from the station, with bowling, ghost hunts, ping pong and arcade machines, from shooter games to cuddly toy claws.
2. Bus to Coggeshall
The National Trust’s Tudor mansion in neighbouring Coggeshall was built around 1500 for the cloth merchant Thomas Paycocke. From the orange half-timbered frontage to the arts and crafts garden, Paycocke’s is a feast for the senses.
- Open from March, Paycocke’s costs £7.50 to visit and the ticket also gets you into Coggeshall Grange Barn round the corner.
- There’s a tea shop at Paycocke’s too, with seats out on the sunny little terrace in summer.
- It’s just ten minutes on bus 70 towards Colchester to get there from Braintree bus station (Stand C)
- Get off after the bus leaves the main road, onto a smaller road signed Coggeshall. The first stop is opposite Coggeshall Nursery, a popular garden centre and tea room. Next door is the award-winning West Street vineyard.
- The next bus stop is opposite Paycocke’s and the third stop, in the colourful heart of the village is perfect for Coggeshall’s shops and cafes.