Car-free around…Saffron WaldenEssex

Castle ruins and art galleries, a market, a museum lion, brightly painted houses, beautiful gardens and not one but two mazes: Saffron Walden is full of tourist-ready attractions, all easily explored on foot. Get a bus through the neighbouring villages to find the area’s hidden treasures or hike the Saffron Trail deep into the rolling Essex countryside. Here are five suggestions for great days and good journeys.

  • County: Essex
  • Great for: good cafés and pubs | markets | museums | scenic bus and train | walking |
  • Refreshments: Pubs and cafés in Saffron Walden and surrounding villages
  • Please note: researched/updated October 2017. If anything’s changed or you have more tips to share, do get in touch: features@goodjourney.org.uk
  1. 3. Walk the Saffron Trail

    This beautiful long-distance route ends in Saffron Walden after 71 miles of fabulous Essex countryside, starting at the seaside in Southend. There are rivers and woods, charming villages, with historic houses and quiet country churches. If you thought Essex was all perma-tanned blondes in white stilettos, a stroll along the Saffron Trail will put you right.

    • The waymarks show purple saffron crocuses.
    • The route is all accessible via public transport with good information on trains and buses at Essex Walks
    • To sample the final section of the walk, simply get the bus (see 4) to Newport and walk the six miles back.
  1. 4. Through woods and villages to Hertfordshire

    Georgian mansions and thatched cottages, bluebell woods and windmills: there’s more Essex loveliness on view from the seat of a bus towards Bishop’s Stortford.

    • Leaving hourly, Monday-Saturday from Saffron Walden’s High Street, the 301 bus rolls down Newport’s handsome main street, lined with half-timbered houses (look out for the carved window of Monk’s Barn on the left, next to the bus stop).
    • If you’re making the trip on a Saturday, hop off at Widdington, where the bus detours off the main road, to visit Prior’s Hall Barn (free) and have a drink at the Fleurs de Lys.
    • If it’s April or May, get off in Quendon for bluebell woods and the Cricketers’ Arms pub in Rickling Green.
    • Look out for a glimpse of the windmill on the left in Stansted Mountfichet, arriving in Bishop’s Stortford soon after. The trip takes 50 minutes non-stop and costs £5.80, return.

     

  1. 5. Sunday trip to Cambridge

    Cycle round the colleges or go punting on the Cam. Stroll in the botanical gardens or visit the Fitzwilliam museum. On Sundays, the only bus to leave Saffron Walden is the one to Cambridge – just as well it’s a great destination any day of the week.

    • Technically, it could be about 20 minutes faster to get a bus to Audley End station and catch the train, but the leisurely citibus 7 connects the centre of Saffron Walden with the centre of Cambridge.
    • A dayrider+ ticket costs £6.70 and is valid on all Cambridge citi and Stagecoach buses. An adult with a couple of kids can get a familydayrider + for just £7.50 – after 9.30am.
    • The Fitzwilliam Museum is open on Sunday afternoons; it’s free and full of great stuff, from Ancient Egyptian sarcophagi to samurai armour. There are trails and kits for kids, a shop and a café. Stroll along Downing Steet and left from the bus stop to find it, passing Fitzbillies café – famous for its Chelsea buns.
    • Punts for hire and riverside pubs are just round the corner and you can stroll along the “Backs” for iconic views of the colleges.

Look out for the Good Journey Mark – where car-free visitors are welcome and enjoy a discount