Flitch Way

  • From - to: Braintree to Start Hill near Tilekiln Green
  • Distance: Around 15 miles each way
  • Terrain: Disused railway path
  • Access: Braintree railway station
  • Surface: Good stone-based track, some rougher byway and road sections near Great Dunmow

Flitch Way

The 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, now enjoys a new lease of life as a country park full of railway cuttings rich in wildlife dotted with attractive Victorian stations.

The route name comes from the Flitch Trial, a folk custom still surviving today which originated in Little 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.

The six mile section from Braintree to Little Dunmow is traffic free and perfect for children. The Flitch Way is now signposted from Great Notley Country Park so it is easy to park and reach the Flitch Way at Rayne on paths and a quiet country lane. It has the added attraction of a café and a railway carriage with a small exhibition of the old railway and the Flitch Way.

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.

Route 16 is clearly signed on a road route through Great Dunmow and the Flitch Way is rejoined about a mile to the west of the town. The remaining section proceeds through Takeley and skirts the edge of Hatfield Forest before terminating at Start Hill near Tilekiln Green.

Download a route description sheet or pick up a more detailed map from the Great Notley Country Park café, the Booking Hall café or the railway carriage at Rayne.

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Open to walkers, cyclists and horse riders, the Flitch Way is flat and mostly traffic free. There are many public footpaths exploring the countryside just off the route.

8 miles