This long and leafy traffic-free route begins at Braintree, the junction of Roman roads from Chelmsford and Colchester, which became a thriving industrial centre by the 19th century, partly thanks to the coming of the railway. The Braintree to Bishop’s Stortford line, decommissioned in 1972, is now enjoying a new lease of life as a country park, with railway cuttings rich in wildlife and dotted with attractive Victorian bridges and old stations.
A few miles in you will reach Rayne Station, once one of the busiest stations on the line and now the site of a popular café, visitor centre and picnic spot, so it’s a great place for an early break. If you feel like exploring there’s an easy detour from here to reach the lakes, ponds and woodland of Great Notley Country Park.
Alternatively, stay on the old railway line and continue west through farmland – the remainder of the ride is a pleasant mix of open countryside and sheltered woodland riding. Leave the route just before Great Dunmow to follow the rough stony track and quiet country lane into Little Dunmow, a pretty Essex village that holds the key to the route’s unusual name. The Dunmow Flitch Trials originated nearby and are still held in Great Dunmow every four years. A married couple stands before a mock court – if they can prove to the satisfaction of the judge and jury that they have, for a year and a day, ‘not wished themselves unwed’, they are awarded half a pig, known as a ‘flitch’ (side) of bacon.
Beyond Little Dunmow the Flitch Way continues for a short way and then proceeds along a byway to the outskirts of Great Dunmow. This can get muddy after bad weather.
We have taken all responsible steps to ensure that these routes are safe and achievable by people with a reasonable level of fitness. However, all outdoor activities involve a degree of risk. To the extent permitted by law, Sustrans accepts no responsibility for any accidents or injury resulting from following these routes. Walking and cycling routes change over time. Weather conditions may also affect path surfaces. Please use your own judgement when using the routes based upon the weather and the ability, experience and confidence levels of those in your group.