On our walks with C&B over the last few months we noticed a number of way-markers for the Saffron Trail about which we knew very little. It is in fact a walk from Southend to Saffron Walden, or vice-versa, totalling around 72 miles. We eventually came across a guide book to the walk in the Tourist Information office in Saffron Walden. To our surprise we found it was a Ramblers Association publication that Anita Stamp and John Mountain, who were long standing and prominent members of our Group, along with the late Kevin Ascott had surveyed and checked the route.
The Saffron Trail guide breaks down the walk into sections with the start and finish points of each section based on car-parks which can result in car ‘shuffling’ at the beginning and/or end of each section. Viv and I, along with Mary Edwards, decided to tackle the trail using only public transport to get to the start of each section and to get us home at the end of the day.
This proved to be surprisingly easy. We broke down the trail into 7 sections of around 10 miles each, with the start and finishing points of each section being on a bus-route and, by coincidence, finishing near a pub. The only exception being the Danbury to Great Waltham section of 12 miles which can easily be broken down into 2 sections, each of 6 miles: – Danbury – Chelmsford and Chelmsford Waltham. We chose Saturdays for the walks as you don’t need to wait until 9am to use your Senior bus pass.
On the first section starting in Southend using First Bus X30 drastically cut down the journey time. Similarly on the last 2 sections we used the X30 or X10 to get us home from Stansted. We were impressed with how well the buses ran to time, the only exception being the non-appearance of Trusty Bus route 7 from Henham to Stansted bus-park. However, a very kind lady offered to take us in her car if the next bus didn’t appear, it turned up late just as we were about to get into to her car.
We enjoyed glorious walks through agricultural Essex which was bathed in Summer sunshine and took in some stunning scenery, with Mary happily snapping away with her camera, and we can thoroughly recommend it. The walk is reasonably well sign-posted but the guide was an enormous help.
Saffron Trail by Public Transport (2018)
This information is correct for 2018 but it can, and does, change from year to year so please check before setting off. Each day’s distance is around the ten mile mark. Total distance 72 miles.
Day 1. Southend Pier – Eastwood Road 9 .2 miles The day finishes where the Saffron Trail crosses Eastwood Road (GR TL 836890)Outbound:- First Bus X30 to Southend.Return:- First Bus 9 or 25 to Rayleigh Station and then the First Bus X30 to Chelmsford. Or Arrow Bus Route 3 all the way from Eastwood Road to Celmsford. Very comfortable but goes through all the villages. Limited seating as it is a 14 seater minibus.
Day 2. Eastwood Road – Battlesbridge 9.5 miles. Outbound:- Reverse of day 1 return. Return:- Arrow bus 3.
Day 3. Battlesbridge- Danbury 9 miles. Outbound:- Arrow bus 3. Return:- First Bus 31 from where the route crosses the A414 near the War Memorial.
Day 4. Danbury – Great Waltham 12.5 miles. This can also be done in 2 short stages :– Danbury- Chelmsford and Chelmsford Great Waltham . Outbound :- First Bus 31 to Danbury. Return:- First Bus 42A from Great Waltham.
Day 5. Great Waltham – Great Dunmow 10.75 miles. Outbound:- First Bus 42A to Great Waltham. Return:- First Bus 42A from Great Dunmow.
Day 6. Great Dunmow – Henham 10 miles. Outbound:- First Bus 42A to Great Dunmow. Return:- Trusty Bus 7 to Stanstead Airport Bus Station. First Bus X30, or X10, from Stanstead Bus Station.
Day 7. Henham – Saffron Walden 10.75 miles. Outbound:- First Bus X30, or X10, to Stanstead. Trusty Bus 7 to Henham. Return:- Stephensons Bus 6 to Stanstead. First Bus X30, or X10, to Chelmsford.
Senior bus passes are valid on all the bus routes, including the X30 and X10 Express buses to Stanstead airport and Southend airport.