London to Essex Fares

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ashworth

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I'm staying with friends in London in a few weeks time and wondered if anyone has any advice on any cheap fares for a few day trips out in the more rural and coastal areas of Essex?

There do not seem to be any rail Rover Tickets that cover Essex like most other areas of the country. However, I have discovered a day bus ticket called the Essex Saver at only £8 which covers all bus services within Essex.

I'm staying within easy reach of Gospel Oak station and so can use my Oyster Card via the London Overground to reach Stratford or Barking. I could even use my Oyster Card as far as Romford or Upminster if that would save money. From there I would just want to get out to somewhere reasonably cheaply from where I could get good bus connections to some of the more remote rural, especially coastal and estuary locations. Any ideas for places I must visit?


Day Return fares seem relatively cheap to stations out to Southend and Southminster but anywhere much beyond Chelmsford seems very expensive.
A Day Return to Southend seems good value because it can be used on both routes which would give me more options of stations to return to by bus at the end of my day for my journey back to London.

Any tips for cheap fares?
 
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Ivo

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First things first: You will not be able to obtain the Essex Saver outside of the administrative county of Essex. The definition of Essex does not include Southend-on-Sea or Thurrock (making it fairly difficult to obtain such a ticket on Arriva Southend services, and almost impossible on Ensign Bus services). I'm not sure about validity of the ticket when travelling from outside the administrative area (e.g. Leigh-on-Sea) to somewhere inside (e.g. Canvey Island), but the other direction should not be a problem. Note that the Essex Saver is *not* valid on coach routes to Stansted Airport, including even those run by "local" operators (such as the X30 to Southend).

As for the railways, there is no such thing as an "Essex Rover" (although NXEA did create such a thing as a one-day event at least once). There used to be a Sunday-only ticket called the Essex Sunday Saver, which allowed travel on all buses - much like the Saver now; note the name difference - and also on all GEML branches south of Ipswich (apart from the Braintree branch, but with the addition of the Southminster branch). I believe the train validity was withdrawn when the more prominent Saver ticket was introduced however (I may be wrong about the date, but I am almost certain it is no longer valid on trains anyhow).

Fares are quite expensive, but not in comparison to long-distance routes or certain other options in the south-east. When travelling to or from Southend avoid using the "Via Romford" fare where possible, as it is more expensive (a ticket from London Terminals to Southend Stns routed Any Permitted is the way to go). On the GEML, you are generally better off using the Essex Saver bus ticket where possible, although to Colchester and beyond Advances are available on the former InterCity services to Norwich. Once you reach Colchester, one option would be to buy a return from Colchester to Walton-on-the-Naze (travelling via Colchester Town if Route Coverage is of any concern), and then travelling on First bus route 7/8 to Clacton and obtaining a single to Thorpe-le-Soken, travelling back to Colchester on a faster service (not via Colchester Town).

The West Anglia route is the most difficult, although some good fares do exist especially when compared to FCC on through fares to Cambridge and beyond. The route is shadowed by several prominent bus routes, most obviously the 510 Harlow to Stansted airport route, but north of Stansted the area is quite rural. Avoid attempting splits at Stansted Airport if possible - the staff there are clueless...

That's about it really. Any questions, feel free to ask by PM if need be.

A few recommended bus routes:

5 Bishop's Stortford to Saffron Walden (beware the uncomfortable seats!)
59 Chelmsford to Harlow
70 Chelmsford to Colchester
75 Colchester to Maldon
251 Southend to Brentwood (Sundays and PHs only)

A few recommended places to visit:

Burnham-on-Crouch
Maldon
Rochford
Saffron Walden (the nicest town in the county by miles)
The Naze tower, near Walton-on-the-Naze
 

ashworth

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Thanks for that information.
I knew that you could only buy the Essex Saver bus ticket when boarding buses within the County of Essex. I also knew that, once in pocession of the ticket you could travel on direct services to and from destinations not within Essex. However, I didn't realise that the Southend and Thurrock are not classed as being part of Essex for purchasing this ticket. That is a big mistake I would have made.

I think Chelmsford may be a good place to head for by train for one day and some of the other places I'm now considering to begin my travels are Basildon, Wickford, South Woodham Ferrers or even Witham.
 
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