Wednesday, 1 August 2012

The Flitch Way

I went a little bit fitness mad today!  I did a 4.8 mile walk with the kids, followed by a 2.7 mile run when I got home!  More on the run later, but first - the walk!  I took the day off work to entertain the kids, so we drove about 40 minutes north to a town called Takeley to walk part of a path called "The Flitch Way".  This path has fascinated me from the moment I stumbled across it in one of my daughter's homework books.  Basically, it is named after something called "The Flitch Trials", an ancient tradition taking place in a nearby village every leap year where married couples - who can prove that they've been happily married for a year and a day - compete to win the trial and a "flitch" (or a side of bacon)!  I so loved the thought of this kind of tradition, that I've desperately been wanting to visit the path ever since!

The path itself is a disused railway line and goes from Takeley 15 miles east ending in Braintree.  As much as I would have loved to have attempted the full 15 miles, there's the small matter of getting back to your car, etc, - not to mention the fact that walking 15 miles in one day is a pretty big ask, even for a mega-fit person!  It actually took some patience to find the start of the path anyway because the "station" in Takeley is tucked behind houses, not sign posted from the road, so I had to do a wee bit of digging and take quite a few wrong turns before we eventually found it!  When we arrived, we noticed that the old train station is now council offices and there was a meeting taking place as we walked past the front door!  A very nice man came out and said we looked a bit lost, could he help us.  I told him we were looking for the Flitch Way and he directed us to an opening in the fence behind the station where you can access the trail.  He asked which direction we were heading, I told him we were going east towards Great Dunmow, but he recommended heading west which would bring us to Hatfield Forest - he said it was a much more interesting walk, so we decided to take his advice!

The start of our walk, Takeley old station is on the right
Me and Verity at one of the "stations"

This was sweet - a swing on a rope at the end of someone's garden
The fabulous thing about the trail is that it's very well maintained, mostly flat and very quiet.  A beautiful canopy of trees covers most of the path, so when it started raining about 30 minutes into our walk, it provided much needed cover!  We walked for about two miles before dropping down into the forest briefly.  There was no distinguishable path in the forest and I was worried about finding our way back to the main path, so I decided we should just re-trace our steps.

When we got back to the car, I decided to drive a few minutes to a pretty little village called Hatfield Broad Oak that we had driven through on the way.  It was a typical old English village with a beautiful stone church and crooked old buildings.  We wanted to find a tea shop to have a nice cup of tea (or coffee for me!) and a slice of cake, but apparently the only thing people in Hatfield Broad Oak like to drink is alcohol because there were two pubs and not a single tea shop!

Crooked old archway in Hatfield Broad Oak

Crooked old house
Frustrated, we started walking back to the car and Josh said "this village stinks", just very matter of fact!  It was SO funny!  An ice cream from the only shop in the village made up for it, though!  All in all it was a good day - I'm glad I finally got to see the Flitch Way and hopefully one day we will go back and do much more of it.

So, the reason I went a little bit mental today with my exercise is because I'm in a hurry to bring my running up to speed for Saturday.  A bit slow on the uptake, I noticed that Adam at The Boring Runner is hosting a virtual 5k race on Saturday called Sweat your Thorns Off 5k! Basically, anyone can join in and you just run 5k where ever you want!  He's got some wicked prizes up for grabs too!  I thought I would join in because I'm running a 5k race at the end of August and if I run the whole 5k on Saturday, it will be a good benchmark for me.

I repeated session 2 of my 5k training today so walked 5 minutes, ran 3, walked 3 and then proceeded to run the whole way home.  Walkmeter stopped counting after 25 minutes - but I reckon it was more like 27-28 minutes in total.  The run was fine - it was a bit hard going, but I figured that was due to my long walk earlier in the day, and the heat (it was HOT today!).  Now the only thing standing in my way is finding a 3.1 mile route!  I added a bit extra to my usual loop, but it only seemed to add about 0.20 of a mile - making the total about 2.7 miles.  My Walkmeter has a programme where you can set distance - so basically you tell it you want to run 3.1 miles and it will tell you when to stop.  I think I'll just have to do this on Saturday and hope I can find a bit more distance somewhere!

Well, that was my very busy, very active day!  Wish me luck for the race on Saturday!


  1. Wow your post makes me want to live in England! All of those beautiful old buildings, hidden paths, villages...just love it. So proud you of you for all of your exercise today! I'll be doing the 5K right along with you! Excited to hear all about your experience :)

    1. Thanks Laura! I must say that is the one major thing I love about living in England - all the history. There are some villages you visit where you literally feel as though you've stepped back in time.

      I'm a bit nervous about Saturday, but hopefully all will be good. At least at the end of it I will have a 5k time to beat! Look forward to hearing about your race too :-)