Harwich, on the very north-eastern tip of the county, is known to many for its international port, but the old town of Harwich is full of secret alleyways, and historic buildings with a tale to tell, was the home to The Mayflower, and would be thronged with tourists if it was in Cornwall instead of Essex!
Local trains run from Manningtree to Harwich. The easiest way to drive to Harwich is to take the A12/A120 which takes you right into town. There aren’t many car parks, so side street parking is usually the order of the day. Alternatively, drive through Dovercourt and through the main town of Harwich, and park down the side of the Redoubt Fort (CO12 3LT) and walk the very short distance into town via the green and sea wall.
We would recommend turning off the A120 and driving through Dovercourt, and finding the leisure centre in Dovercourt and parking there (CO12 3TA) and enjoying the short walk along the seafront to Harwich. That way you get to see the picturesque lighthouses on the beach, and get a feel for Harwich as a port by walking along the sea wall.
Days Out in Harwich
The old town of Harwich is quite compact. The Harwich Society is responsible for caring for and promoting many of the heritage sites in the town, including the Electric Palace Cinema, the Ha’Penny Pier, several quirky little museums, and a human-powered treadmill!
The Harwich Society have produced a self-led Maritime Trail to help you discover the town’s history, and it is certainly worthwhile following this to get the most from a visit to the town.
There are events to look out throughout the year – they have their own Festival of the Arts in the summer, and a sea shanty festival in the autumn, and there’s the Harwich Sea Festival in the summer which has lots happening.
The Redoubt Fort is well worth a visit, especially if they are hosting a military festival or a beer festival. The fort was in a state of disrepair and delapidation, and a group of volunteers have painstakingly restored it over almost 40 years, and deserve a lot of thanks for so doing!!
Look out for the Harwich Mayflower Project which is building a replica of The Mayflower, whose home town was Harwich.
There are a number of restaurants in town, although we stick to The Alma Inn which serves great food, and great beer, in an lovely pub. And whilst we’re talking about real ale, there’s the New Bell Inn, and Harwich Town Brewing Company brew some very good beers!