Saffron Walden – a day out in North Essex

TGTG Rating 2.5/5 stars

Day Trip


This week I ventured out for a day trip to Saffron Walden with my parents in hope of some inspiration for places to visit in Essex. Was it worth the trip though?

The Charm

Saffron Walden is a market town dating back to a settlement in prehistoric times. Originally being known as only Walden, it gained it’s later prefix in the Tudor period when it was known for cultivating the crocus flower which makes Saffron. There’s no denying that the unique, characterful buildings that make up the town are beautiful and charming. They date from a range of eras and the hotchpotch of crooked windows, wooden beams and colourful paint work make for some instagram worthy shots. It’s also a paradise for any history buffs out there but what about the town itself? What does it have to offer? Saffron Walden town centre is once again beautiful and has so much potential to be unique, boutique and teaming with visitors however, there’s something about it which doesn’t quite deliver.

The high street is comprised of the usual middle class haunts, from Fat Face to Sea Salt with a Monsoon and Mistral thrown in for size but other than that, there aren’t too many positives…unless that is you love charity shops? The town is made up of 13 charity shops in total, the lovely lady in Oxfam informed me, from bookshops to clothes to home accessories and it is truly a charity shop lovers paradise. I couldn’t help but feel it let the town down and made it feel less boutique and charming and more lacking and poor. I have nothing against a charity shop and did actually buy a few bits but it’s not what you want from a boutique break or luxury get away. Saffron Walden has so much potential for a fantastic tourist destination but unfortunately is still more practical and for locals, than a destination high street

Pubs and walks – The Positives

Moving away from the high street, I feel like Saffron Walden has more to offer. As I mentioned previously, meandering through the conservation area streets is a real treat and there are also some great pubs and eateries there. We had lunch at The Old English Gentleman, a an old pub with two roaring log burners. The food was of good quality and not over-priced. Far from gastro-pub but a cosy local with charm and atmosphere, not far from the high street. I also loved the look of the Eight Bells. If you get a chance to sample it, I’d love your feedback!

Would I come back?

In short yes. Although, I have given a slightly negative review of Saffron Walden’s high street, I’d come back to walk around the area more but stick to pub lunches and glasses of wine this time. I should imagine the summer in Saffron Walden is particularly picturesque and a good pub garden after an Essex countryside walk is always welcome in my book. In addition to this, Saffron Walden is not alone. There are so many other destinations nearby which are worth a visit from Thaxted, a picturesque village dating back to Saxon times, to Finchingfield, one of the most photographed villages in England and where Jamie Oliver has just completed on a £6m manor house, Spains Hall.

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