GPS Cycle and Walking Routes

Flitch Way

15 miles (24 km)

The Flitch Way is a cycle and walking route running along a decomissioned railway line through Essex. Starting in Bishop's Stortford, the path takes you through Hatfield Forest and the town of Great Dunmow to Braintree.
Highlights include the Victorian railway stations dotted along the path, deer in Hatfield Forest Country Park and views of the River Chelmer near Great Dunmow.

Flitch Way OS Map - Mobile GPS OS Map with Location tracking

Flitch Way Open Street Map - Mobile GPS Map with Location tracking

Pubs/Cafes

On the route you can stop off for refreshments at the Booking Hall Cafe at Rayne Station. The cafe also houses a free museum with information and old photos about the history of the railway. You can find the station at Station House Road,Rayne with a postcode of CM77 6RX for your sat navs.
In Great Dunmow there's The Angel and Harp. They have a nice interior with with oak beams and red brick fireplace. They serve good quality food and have a nice garden area to sit out in too. You can find them at 16 Church Street, CM6 2AD.

Dog Walking

The trail is popular with dog walkers you'll probably see plenty of other owners as you make your way along the path. The cafe mentioned above is also dog friendly. Hatfield Forest, on the route, is another good spot to take your dog with lots of fine woodland trails.

Further Information and Other Local Ideas

Near Braintree you'll pass Great Notley Country Park where there's some good cycling and walking trails to try. The 100 acre park is just south of the route and has wetland areas and a lake.

Photos

Flitch Way Country Park - Braintree station entrance

Flitch Way Country Park. Braintree station.

The Flitch Way - geograph.org.uk - 1710555

View of the former Bishop’s Stortford to Braintree branch railway, now converted to a footpath. Looking towards the former Takeley station from Canfield Road.

Rayne Station Centre - Flitch Way Country Park - geograph.org.uk - 865763

Rayne Station Centre - Flitch Way Country Park. The former Rayne Railway Station is now the Visitor Centre for the Country Park.
The line was part of a series of projects proposed in the 19th century, aiming to establish north-south connections linking Great Dunmow with Epping, Halstead, and/or Saffron Walden. Initially proposed by the Eastern Counties Railway (ECR) in 1859, the route was eventually constructed by the Great Eastern Railway (GER), which had absorbed the ECR. Construction commenced in 1864, and the line became operational on 22 February 1869, serving Takeley, Felstead, and Rayne. Easton Lodge was added to the route in 1894, followed by Hockerill in 1910, and StaneStreet and Bannister Green in 1922.

Rayne - Flitch Way - National Cycle Network 16 Rowe Type Milepost - Detail - geograph.org.uk - 865808

Just beside the Rayne Station Centre, is a "Rowe Type" Milepost (designed by Welsh artist Andrew Rowe) giving distances to places along the route and a circular disc. This is part of something called the "Millennium Time Trail" - a complex series of puzzles that you can solve by taking 'rubbings' from different mileposts. The Time Trail, including discs, was devised and designed by Charlie Harrow.

Flitch Way Country Park at Takeley Station (geograph 1956521)

Takeley Station. This view of the disused railway line is taken looking toward Braintree. The railway line operated as a single track with passing loops strategically placed at Bishop's Stortford, Dunmow, Takeley, Rayne, and Braintree. Additionally, goods sidings were established at various points, including Hockerill Halt, Takeley, and Easton Lodge, to cater to the needs of US Air Force bases at Stansted and Easton Lodge. Other goods sidings were located at Dunmow and Felsted, primarily serving general purposes and facilitating transportation for the nearby sugar beet factory at Rayne.

Bluebell Wood - geograph.org.uk - 165925

Bluebell Wood. This is Runnel's Hey which lies beside the former railway trackbed.

River Chelmer near Flitch Way, Dunmow - geograph.org.uk - 2607471

River Chelmer near the trail. A viaduct spanning the River Chelmer to the south of Great Dunmow was dismantled during the 1970s to accommodate the construction of the A1256 Great Dunmow bypass. Initially, passenger traffic on the railway line was relatively robust upon its opening. However, increased competition from bus and road transportation led to dwindling train occupancy, with trains operating nearly empty by the time passenger services ceased on 3 March 1952. Although the line continued to operate for freight purposes until the end of 1971, it eventually shut down entirely in 1972.

Bridge carrying the Flitch Way over Notley Road - geograph.org.uk - 2118728

Bridge carrying the trail over Notley Road

Elevation Profile

Video

GPS Files

GPX File

Flitch Way.gpx (On Desktop:Right Click>'Save As. On Ipad/Iphone:Click and hold>Share>Save to Files')

Memory Map Route

Flitch Way.mmo (On Desktop:Right Click>'Save As. On Ipad/Iphone:Click and hold >Share>Save to Files)