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. Free ride to Freeport
Braintree Freeport is a huge discount shopping centre. It has its own railway station on the line from Witham to Braintree and a free shuttle bus, running every 20 minutes from Braintree bus station. Brands like Body Shop and Next, Hugo Boss and Ernest Jones offer up to 60% off, making this Essex outlet a magnet for shoppers.
- It’s great for a family day out too – especially at Christmas, when a winter wonderland train ride, the Braintree Express, leaves a pop up train station for a virtual reality trip to the North Pole to meet Santa.
- Namco Funscape Amusement Centre is next door too, 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, and for the museum, open on Sunday afternoons, April to September