Essex County Council logo

Flitch Way


Grid ref: TL 519 212ŠTL 760 227 (click for o/s map)

Updated 25/08/2014

Mouse over links for pictures; click for detail page.

The Flitch Way follows the route of the old railway line from Bishop's Stortford to Braintree that was dismantled in 1969 – a distance of 15 miles. Since then nature has taken over, with more than a little help from Essex County Council's Ranger Service.

Its name comes from the medieval ceremony held at Little Dunmow, in which a flitch of bacon was given to couples who had not argued for a year and a day.

Sections of the line run on embankments with fine views over the surrounding countryside. In the west, for example, it runs across the northern edge of Hatfield Forest.

Other parts run in secluded cuttings, the longest of which is west of Dunmow. Here conditions are very wet, and water mint growing alongside the path scents the air.

The south-facing banks form a sun trap and are ideal for slow worms, grass snakes and lizards, which can sometimes be seen basking in the open. They also attract many butterflies and other insects


Can be entered from a number of points along its length, including Hatfield Forest – see map. Parking at Takeley, Rayne or Braintree stations.

Trains run to Braintree from Witham. Use hourly bus service Stansted Airport–Braintree via Takeley to return.

Accessible at all times. Centre at Rayne Station open daily from 9am to 5pm.

May–July for wild flowers, birds and butterflies.

Call the Rangers on 01376 340262.

Photo © Tony Gunton