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Hidden gems of Essex

By Nicki Treffers - 24 May 2017

Essex as a county has some amazing places to be discovered so thought we would give you a helping hand at finding them. Leisure, pleasure and play are the categories so find our favourites below.

For leisure

Where:  National Trust's Bourne Mill, Colchester

Just a mile south of Colchester sits Bourne Mill, a delightful piece of late Elizabethan playfulness.

Built for banquets and converted into a mill in the 19th century, Bourne Mill is set in tranquil grounds next to a millpond and babbling stream. The mill still has a working waterwheel and the grounds give plenty of scope for family fun.

NT members get in free and there is a small entry charge for payers.

The grounds have a pond, wetlands and woods and are home to a variety of wildlife including birds, bats, waterfowl, bugs and beetles.

We love: The grade 1 listed Elizabethan building steeped in history

Great for: All the family

Not to be missed: Picturesque working waterwheel

What’s new: Pond dipping equipment and lawn games are available


Bourne Mill

Bourne Road, Colchester, Essex CO2 8RT

Contact number: (01206) 549799

For pleasure

Where: Wine cellar bar and bistro, Chelmsford

If you’re looking for somewhere that is a real one off, look no further than the wine cellar bar and bistro.

Located in a tucked away street just near Chelmsford Cathedral, is this hidden gem. Make your way down tiny stone steps into a stunning and cosy brick and beamed setting, complete with flagstone floors.

The small intimate space has candle lit tables dotted around and a welcoming and friendly bar space.

Whether you are looking to have a glass of wine after work or a full three course meal from their delicious menu, the wine cellar caters for both.

The staff are friendly and upbeat and will happily engage in conversation, whilst you enjoy your chosen  tipple.

The wine cellar hosts a variety of different foody evenings, including Steak and Thai evenings. All food is home cooked and freshly prepared.

We love: The décor and ambience

Not to be missed: Steak and chips

Great for: friends, couples, business meetings

What’s new:  A new take away service is available for those wishing to take lunch away and enjoy the outside spaces around the city. Simply call before 11am and collect.


The Wine cellar bar and bistro

4 Duke St, Chelmsford CM1 1HL

Contact number: (01245) 349646 

For pleasure

Where: Greenwood Hotel & Spa, Stock, Ingatestone

If you're looking for an Essex escape then look no further than the stunning Greenwoods Hotel & Spa. The  spa is a true sensory experience and the perfect place to escape the stresses and pressures of everyday life. From the minute you enter, you will be taken on a special journey, created just for you! 

We love: The award-winning Elemis, Aroma Works & CND Shellac treatments

Great for: A long relaxing weekend

Not to be missed: Try the afternoon tea


Greenwoods Hotel & Spa

Stock Road, Stock, Ingatestone, CM4 9BE

Contact number: (01277) 829990

For play

Where: Ceramics On The Hop, Writtle

Take the kids (and yourself!) for some fun at Ceramics On The Hop in Writtle.

From cute clay animals to your little ones first plate you can get creative with your pottery painting at Ceramics On The Hop.

This lovely activity is definitely a hidden gem of Essex as it is tucked away in the charming village of Writtle.

Head along with the children and take part in their clay workshops, potter’s wheel or even paint one of the readymade pottery. It is ideal to let your creativity run free whilst being able to take your masterpiece away for all to see.

We love: Being in a relaxed environment whilst creating gifts for friends, family or a keepsake for ourselves.

Not to be missed: Clay Workshops & Potters Wheel

Great for: family, group activities, holiday clubs

Little extra: Ceramics on The Hop have kindly offered 10% off your next visit. Quote Beresfords and enjoy your play!


Ceramics On The Hop

2 Rumsey Row, Writtle, Chelmsford CM1 3YA

Contact number: (01245) 421996

For play

Where: Rope Runners, Brentwood

If heights are your thing or you enjoy a day out of challenging fun then Rope Runners in Brentwood is perfect. Hidden away next door to Essex's best kept secret, The Secret Nuclear Bunker, they are an award winning High Ropes Park and Adventure Centre.

From birthdays parties to a spontaneous day out of activities they cater for it all. If you don't feel up to the heights of the ropes then why not try archery or water zorbing, there is a lot to discover with this gem and it's great for all the family to enjoy together!

We love: The new day camps such as the 'Survival day' aimed at the budding Bear Grylls adventurer in you. 

Not to be missed: Zip, climb or jump.  Not enough time to do the whole ropes course, or just looking for a taster? Then have a quick go on the Zip Wire, Climbing Wall or Fan Descender. 

Great for: Birthday parties,  corporate groups and stag and hen dos.

Little extra: Rope Runners have kindly offered 10% off your next visit. Quote Beresfords and have fun on the course!


Rope Runners

The Secret Nuclear Bunker

Ongar Road, Kelvedon Hatch, CM15 0LA

Contact number: (01277) 364470