Manningtree, once a large railway junction in Essex is now just a mere shadow of its former glory and the village is just a dormitory for Ipswitch and Colchester. Having said that it is located in some of the most beautiful countryside in Essex and Suffolk (remember the East Bergholt and Flatford Mill scenes for the 'Haywain' etc.) There is also one of the largest swanneries in Britain on the river Stour. Its only other claim to fame is that it boasts one of only two station buffets that appear regularly on the National Good Beer Guide. (Who can name the other).
Transport - A train leaves London Liverpool Street at 9:42 am arriving at Chelmsford at 10:17 am and Manningtree at 10:55 am. This probably means a wait of five minutes before the first pub opens but you do have to cross over onto the other platform. There is also a train from Colchester only that arrives at 11:05 am having left at 10:55 am. The trains are then hourly from London for those who cannot get up in time.
In the National Good Beer Guide and deservedly so. Very handy for the trains. A typically unchanged Victorian station buffet with marble counter. Beer is normally in good nick and the staff friendly and helpful. The food is said to be marvellous but at this visit we may be limited to cold snacks. The hot food comes up later so we will return.
We now have to leave the station and proceed down to the main road. Straight across and continue down Station Street. After a long walk and passing two of the pubs we visit later we arrive at:-
A pleasant two bar pub with friendly landlord who is known to drink his own mild. Near to the river Stour. A separate restaurant for food although there will be bar snacks as well.
We now retrace our steps to one that we have passed
Large one bar pub with a good range of food
Continue back along the High Street to find:-
Two bar pub with large smokey public bar and a smaller lounge. Good selection of food at reasonable prices
We now need to cross the road and find South Street which we turn to find:-
A change of beers here as this is one of the Brent Walker pubs taken over from Tolly Cobbold. On that basis I am not sure whether it will still have real ale as Brent Walker have now sold a lot of their pubs. It does do food and for those that drink lager (ugh) it does have Grolsch,
We now wend our weary way back to the railway station for the next stage of the journey. The trains depart for Harwich at 56 minutes past the hour so we have a bit of time to kill so a return to the now probably busier Station Refreshment Room. As before but it is likely that the cooked food will be available. The joy of the final lunchtime visit is that if we miss the train it does stay open all afternoon. Who wanted to go the Harwich anyway.
Assuming that we catch the 2:56 pm train we should arrive in Harwich at 3:18 pm.
Part 2 - Harwich
Harwich is a very old and historic sea port located on the flooded valley caused by the joining of the rivers Stour and Orwell as they hit the sea. This town was made famous by the Ransome childrens books and is now a mecca for yachts and sailing. Ferries also run from here to Felixstowe and also just round the harbour. It was also the scene of a famous battle between Suffold and Essex what county it should be in. Suffice to say that Essex lost. Here are two pubs for the afternoon session one of which will be open.
May not be open when we call as it seems to function on how many happen to be in there at closing time. Very handy for the station as it can be seen as the train pulls in. Good jukebox (7 plays for 50p). Dartboard is situated dangerously close to the television. No likelyhood of food at this time
A large and popular pub right on the quay and overlooking Shotley and the harbour. The ferries run from nearby and you can also see the lightships. Will have to form the basis for the afternoon session as we will not be sure what times the other pubs will open. No food available although there are a few cafes around. For those who wish to look round there is a word of warning, there are virtually no shops in Harwich itself. The shopping centres are in Dovercourt.
Evening - I am not certain when the pubs will open in the evening so we will have to journey out from the Angel to explore. The first pub for the evening is quite close to where we are so it may not be difficult. Most of the pubs in Harwich are Tolly Cobbold but as the brewery is now closed I am not sure what the position is. There should be quite a lot of mild though as it seems popular.
A nice locals pub with nautical flavour. Very friendly but I am sure that we can change that. In the National Beer Guide.
Unspoilt town centre pub with strong links with RNLI again has an entry in the National Beer Guide and with a a nautical theme. Has a public bar. Little changed from the days when I got barred from there.
350 year old pub. A real drinkers pub that welcomes outsiders like us. Could quite easily have food in the evening. Has a public bar.
As the last reasonably timed train leaves at 8:44 pm I have limited the evening session to just these three pubs. if there is still time I would suggest a second (or first) visit to Blazers or:-
Country and Western music on Saturday nights. Large Lounge. Public bar and separate games and childrens room. Some snacks in the evening
The 8:44pm train arrives at Chelmsford at 9:45pm and at London Liverpool Street at 10:32pm. It also stops at Romford (who cares?).
Trip authored by Dave Saffery
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