Written by Amanda French
Looking for an escape from the daily grind and to get in touch with nature? Then a weekend in Essex’s Colne Valley is the perfect getaway.
Enjoy a trip with the whole family to Colne Valley Railway, the family-friendly heritage railway. There’s a full-size demonstration train ride, interactive model railway, ride on miniature railway and the chance to visit the signalbox.
There’s plenty for history enthusiasts in this pretty corner of Essex. For a real sense of the area’s heritage stop by the East Anglian Railway Museum. Here you’ll discover the history of steam trains and the railway. The Heritage Centre is an indoor exhibition with exhibits and displays of the railway age, while you can learn more about vintage trains at The Restoration Shed. The Goods Shed dates back to the Victorian times and provides an insight into a time gone by. Throughout the year the museum hosts a number of events; this summer look out for the Day Out with Thomas over August Bank Holiday and The Chappel Beer Festival from 5-9 September.
Visit Hedingham Castle, the best-preserved Norman Keep in England and enjoy a visit around the castle as well as the beautiful gardens. They also have a program of outdoor theatre throughout the summer, so be sure to check some out while you are there.
Looking for a more adult activity? Then head on over to West Street Vineyard in the idyllic village of Coggeshall to experience the micro-vineyard. As well as a restaurant which offers automated tastings to showcase the regional wines of the UK, there’s also a wine school to learn more about your favourite tipple.
There is little more beautiful at any time of the year than a visit to the 73 hectre Chalkney Wood, or why not take a walk from Earls Colne out through the valley and tranquil countryside. To find out more about local walks visit
Visit Townsford Mill, which was originally built as a corn mill in 1788 and then used for silk production. Now it’s home to Halstead Antiques Centre. A great place to while away the hours digging up hidden treasures. There are plenty of other things to see in Halstead, so take the opportunity to potter around the town, take in the sights and visit a tearoom or two.
If you’ve still got time to kill, then head on over to Earls Colne, a picturesque village nestling in the Colne Valley and enjoy the ‘House Detectives’ Trail. Find out more at www.colnevalley.com/earlscolne. Once you’ve finished exploring, head to one of the many excellent local pubs for refreshments.
There’s plenty to do in the Colne Valley, it’s hard to pack it all into just one weekend.