We fancied a relatively short, and not-too-muddy Boxing Day walk yesterday, and plumped for one part of the Flitch Way. It’s a 15-mile linear park between Braintree and Bishops Stortford, following the course of the railway line that had been there until Dr. Beeching redrew the railway map of Great Britain in the 1950s. Actually he didn’t redraw it, he simply took a bloody big eraser to great stretches of it…
We started at the eastern end, not the most salubrious of beginnings, at the car park next to Braintree railway station. But at least it helped you imagine the train line running westwards out of the town. The Flitch Way is used by cyclists, runners and walkers, and all were out on the afternoon in force, with only one or two muddy or wet areas underfoot to skirt around.
The first stretch takes you out through the suburbs of Braintree, and if you keep your eyes open there are plenty of older buildings to appreciate. After a little while you get out into the countryside, and can do some bird and squirrel spotting. The road runs parallel to the A120 for a lot of the time, and you can hear it swishing away in the distance. If you are very eagle eyed, to the south you can see the silver bee sculpture to the south of the A120 on the horizon.
Once into the countryside proper, you can appreciate the views, and after about 45 minutes or so we found ourselves at Rayne – alongside the old platform, and the old train station which, when open, offers food and drink, and toilets.
Not being dedicated walkers, we turned back at this point. I think either cycling the length of the Flitch Way and back could be an excellent all-day excursion in summer, or else doing the walk over a period of visits – Rayne to Felsted being the next stretch (and, of course, tying in with a pub stop!)
More info on the Flitch Way here.