Please sign in to post.

Harwich - Hook of Holland

Hello,

We will have a 10 day trip in early March where we fly open jaw into London and back home via Amsterdam. After 4 nights in London, we will head to Harwich to take the Stena Line ferry overnight crossing to Hook of Holland. As we have luckily visited England and the Low Countries often in the past, we chose this route strictly to try something different. While I have done a fair amount of research, I am finding some information hard to locate. As such, I have a few questions about this route I will ask in hopes that we can be better prepared:

  1. The ferry leaves at 11pm from Harwich Terminal. Are there any interesting things in town that are worth arriving early for? Even if the town of Harwich lacks any real “sites”, if it is charming enough with some nice pubs, that would be fine.

  2. We will have luggage. Is it possible to drop luggage off, say 4-5 hours before departure so we can be sans bags and walk around town? Is it possible to walk or take public transportation into city center?

  3. If the consensus to the aforementioned questions arrives at not arriving early, are there any recommended train stopovers from London to Harwich (with luggage lockers at the station) that one would recommend instead?

Also, any insight/advice with embarking, disembarking and onboard experience would be most welcome too.

Thanks.

Posted by
1251 posts

Jay, we did the Rail/Sail from Harwich in June 2016. As I remember there wasn’t to much to do in Harwich.

Posted by
1764 posts

nothing in Harwich, nothing en route.

Don't build your hopes up over the ferry journey. It might be something new for you but you could fly or take the train and do something useful with the time you save instead.

Posted by
23730 posts

I admit that I have done nothing in Harwich. I used to take the super-duper huge jet-boat back when that still ran on that route, I've never taken the slow boat on that route.

As we were in the car we had a little run around town and it did absolutely-nothing for me. Maybe there's a cute bit there somewhere, but I couldn't find it.

Here's a damning thought - we felt that Felixstowe (where the big container trans-shipping yard is) was nicer.

There's not a lot by train between there and London. Manningtree will never set the world alight.

Posted by
4694 posts

I admire your efforts to revisit ancient history! But you are, so to speak, beating a dead horse. London is poorly connected to, say, Amsterdam (or Normandy, for that matter.) But the ferry cure is worse than the disease. I haven't been on this ferry, but it strikes me as unlikely that you can drop your luggage early. There are even (I hear ... ) a few ferry routes that don't permit pedestrian passengers. Extra services cut into, I won't say profits, but into breaking-even!

I happen to like Suffolk, because we have friends there and because I loooooved Arthur Ransome's childrens books. They aren't that widely read in the U.S., so if you don't know them, you won't care about the real sites of fictional stories. There are some half-timbered towns and historic mansions and abbeys and historic villages (like the East Anglia Museum), but they don't warrant a special trip - especially if March happens to be raw for your visit. There are plenty of such options elsewhere in the U.K. as well. (We have also been to Coniston Water, another Arthur Ransome "site." Unbelievably, we had hot and sunny weather for a WEEK.)

Edit: When I first read your Topic, I immediately thought of the older book, "A Time of Gifts", by Patrick Leigh Fermor. That's because it is subtitled, "On Foot to Constantinople: From the Hook of Holland to the Middle Danube" (or in the original, just " ... to Constantinople") His writing style is not for everyone, but I really enjoy his dusty view of a vanished world of decaying royalty and simple country life. The first chapter is about his boat ride from Harwich.

Posted by
1389 posts

I am a lover of England and almost anything I do there I love. We did visit Harwich a number of years ago - against many people's advice. We were told there's nothing there. We had a rental car. We very much enjoyed our day there - it was a very low key experience. Can't remember the names of anything, but we had fantastic fish and chips on the harbor. We then took a city walking tour which was very interesting - the history of the town was worth hearing. The town was so small you could walk every place which we enjoyed just seeing it and being there. A wonderful antique shop - if you're in to antiques - not sure if it's still there. So if you are like us and just like to soak in the atmosphere of England and talk to local people and be there, it's a good stop. No big tourist sites.

Posted by
490 posts

Jay,

I am from Essex originally and agree with others that Harwich is a rather dull town. The train from Liverpool Station to Harwich has the possibility of stopping in Colchester and/or Manningtree. Manningtree is not far from Constable country. (Dedham/Flatford Mill). You can actually do the walk right from the Manningtree station: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/flatford/trails/flatford-and-constable-country-walk. In March this could quite easily be very cold and wet, so a Taxi from the station (3-4 miles) into Dedham perhaps for Lunch and a walk about would be a more viable option. There are some pubs in the village or some rather upscale lunch possibilities down by the River. Then onto Flatford Mill - which is charming and the scene from John Constables The Hay Wain.
Colchester is a market town - that IMO has got less attractive as the years go by ( I can say this - I was born there). But there is Colchester Castle. Its a Norman keep with many roman artifacts having been build on an old Roman temple. But I am not so sure it is worth a stop. I recall taking a ferry to Holland once during the winter months. The seas were very rough and it made for an unpleasant journey.

Margaret

Posted by
203 posts

All, thank you for your replies. For the most part, the consensus seems to point towards arriving in Harwich only in time for departure and find other places to spend the day. We will most likely heed that advice by either spending the day in London again, stopping in a village on the way to Harwick, or possibly heading to Harwick via a day trip to Cambridge as per the Seat61 suggested link. As we move closer to our trip, I may follow up on this thread with follow up questions. Thanks again.

Posted by
490 posts

Jay,

I was going to suggest perhaps Cambridge - its a little further out of the way - but if you left London early in the morning, you would have plenty of time to look around before getting the 2 hours train to Harwich. You will love Cambridge.
Margaret