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Sparkle, Steam & Sculpture

Sparkle, Steam & Sculpture

Explore the countryside of North and West Essex, indulging in a country spa hotel stay. Tour and taste excellent English wine at a local vineyard and visit a Tudor manor house and heritage railway.


Day 1


Morning – pre-book a tour at Saffron Grange Vineyard, a family business nestled on the gently sloping hills just outside of Saffron Walden, producing premium quality English Sparkling Wines. Regular tours and tastings are held throughout the growing season where you hear about the wine making process and why the region has the perfect conditions for growing high quality grapes. Experience a proper tasting, paired with either a cheese or charcuterie board.

Afternoon - check in to Down Hall Country House Hotel in Hatfield Heath. Set in the beautiful Essex countryside, Down Hall is an historic building in extensive, landscaped grounds and has an in-house spa so creating the perfect setting for a relaxing stay. Spend the afternoon in the spa or explore the grounds, trying out the traditional garden games such as croquet, chess or play a game of tennis.


Day 2


Morning - after breakfast in the hotel, head over to the market town of Saffron Walden. Pop into the Tourist Information Centre for a town trail map. St Mary’s huge church spire dominates the town views – a look inside at the beautiful interiors is recommended on your way to Bridge End Gardens, delightful ornamental gardens, tucked away on the edge of town. The town museum is in the grounds of the ruined castle and there are plenty of cafes and pubs in town for lunch.

Afternoon – nearby Audley End is a perfect Jacobean manor house, set in landscaped grounds, designed by Capability Brown. During your visit you can discover what life was like above and below stairs at this impressive mansion - great houses needed an army of staff to keep everything running smoothly and you can meet the ‘servants’ and see them at work in the Victorian service wing, every weekend May-September, and say hello to the resident horses in the stable block.


Day 3


This morning, take a scenic drive across rural Essex, passing through pretty villages such as The Rodings and The Easters and wend your way over to Weald Country Park. Famous for its deer and Stick Man trail, based on the Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler story, Weald is suitable for all ages and boasts spectacular walks through 520 acres of woodland, wildflower meadows and open grassland.

Afternoon - during the Summer months, you can visit Ingatestone Hall, a Tudor manor house built by Sir William Petre and still occupied by his descendants today.The Hall stands in ten acres of gardens, beyond which is open countryside, and retains many original features with mullioned windows, high chimneys and oak-panelled rooms. Pre-book a tour to see the private collection of paintings, furniture and memorabilia accumulated over centuries. The Hoop Inn in the picturesque village of Stock is a good option for lunch if you’re visiting Ingatestone.

Alternatively, arrange your trip to coincide with an event day at Epping Ongar Railway. Step back in time and experience a ride on a vintage diesel or steam train along Essex's longest heritage railway, running from Ongar to North Weald and on into Epping Forest. Book onto the lunchtime ‘Epping Fryer’ and you can have fish and chips on the train!


Day 4


Check out of the hotel and head for nearby Harlow, home to an exceptional collection of public artworks by some of the greatest sculptors of the 20th century, including Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth and Elisabeth Frink. Walk or cycle a self-led outdoor sculpture trail, using the digital map on their website or pre-book a sculpture tour with a knowledgeable guide from the Friends of Harlow Sculpture Town.  The trails tell the story of the collection, taking in different areas of this interesting ‘New’ town.
 

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Product Information

  1. Saffron Grange Vineyard

    Little Walden

    Saffron Grange is one of Essex’s best kept secrets. A family-run vineyard nestled on the gently sloping hills just outside of Saffron Walden, it produces delicious, premium quality English Sparkling Wines.

    It is a little-known fact that the Saffron Region sits on the same chalk seam that runs all…

  2. Down Hall - Hotel | Spa | Estate

    Hatfield Heath

    Down Hall Hotel is one of England's most established country house hotels, dating back to 1540 and provides a beautiful historic setting for weekends away, for groups or corporate meetings and events. 99 Bedrooms.

  3. Audley End House and Gardens

    Saffron Walden

    Visit Essex's hidden treasure house to explore delightful gardens and acres of parkland and experience the upstairs and downstairs life of one of England’s grandest houses. Discover its staterooms, nursery and fascinating artefacts and meet our resident horses in the Victorian stableyard.

  4. Epping Ongar Railway

    Station Approach, Epping

    Epping Ongar Railway is Essex's LONGEST heritage railway and the CLOSEST TO LONDON, running from Ongar to North Weald and into Epping Forest.

  5. Weald Country Park

    South Weald

    Located close to the M25 and A12 in Essex, Weald Country Park is a 700 year-old, 500 acre country park.

  6. Saffron Walden

    SAFFRON WALDEN

    Saffron Walden is a delightful medieval town with a rich heritage of old buildings, including the magnificent Jacobean mansion Audley End House and Gardens and St Mary’s Church, the largest and one of the most beautiful parish churches in Essex.

  7. Saffron Walden Tourist Information Centre

    Saffron Walden

    Saffron Walden Tourist Information Centre is open Monday to Saturday from 9.30am to 5pm.

    Bank Holidays from Easter to end of August 10.30am - 1pm

    Our e-shop is open 24/7 at www.visitsaffronwalden.gov.uk, with a posting-out option (UK and abroad), or, for local people, a free click &…

  8. Ingatestone Hall

    Ingatestone

    Tudor manor house and grounds containing furniture, pictures and memorabilia accumulated by the resident family over the centuries.

  9. The Hoop

    Stock

    Offering an award winning selection of real ales and gastro pub food in a traditional pub atmosphere with no music, no fruit machines and no TV.

  10. Harlow Sculpture Town

    The Water Gardens, Harlow

    Harlow is home to an exceptional and growing collection of over 101 public artworks, including masterpieces by some of the greatest sculptors of the 20th century. Plan your visit at www.sculpturetown.uk.

Itinerary Distances

FromToDistance * (metric)
Saffron Grange Vineyard (52.04476,0.24929)Down Hall - Hotel | Spa | Estate (51.7961,0.20679)25.05
Down Hall - Hotel | Spa | Estate (51.7961,0.20679)Audley End House and Gardens (52.02081,0.22062)22.53
Audley End House and Gardens (52.02081,0.22062)Epping Ongar Railway (51.70879,0.24341)31.3
Epping Ongar Railway (51.70879,0.24341)Weald Country Park (51.62369,0.26045)8.59
Weald Country Park (51.62369,0.26045)Saffron Walden (52.02222,0.23885)39.96
Saffron Walden (52.02222,0.23885)Saffron Walden Tourist Information Centre (52.02365,0.2414)0.21
Saffron Walden Tourist Information Centre (52.02365,0.2414)Ingatestone Hall (51.66156,0.39034)37.44
Ingatestone Hall (51.66156,0.39034)The Hoop (51.66452,0.44553)3.44
The Hoop (51.66452,0.44553)Harlow Sculpture Town (51.76678,0.09441)24.09
Total Distance *192.57 miles
Estimated Journey Time6.2 hours

* Approximate distance by road

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