A 10 mile walk or run route between Witham and Braintree in Essex on roads and trails.
John Ray was born in the Essex village of Black Notley in 1627 and was to become known as the father of British Natural History. He spent a lifetime describing and classifying plants in Britain, Europe and beyond. The John Ray Walk was developed by Essex County Council and others to celebrate his life. Click on the image above to download a copy of the pdf booklet.
I began today’s walk by leaving the car in the station carpark in Braintree and taking the train to Witham. This 15 minute journey took me past some of the fields that I would be covering on my return journey which criss-crosses the railway line. My plan was to run the 9-10 miles back to Braintree at an easy pace whilst taking time for photos along the way.
On leaving the station the trail initially follows a quiet road and then onto a cycle path which takes you out of the town. At the edge of the town a new housing development is being built by Bellway homes and at the moment there is no signed footpath through the development.
Having found the footpath again on the other side, it then follows quiet lanes, enclosed trails and field edges through to the road that takes you to Cressing Temple Barns.
At about half way along the route the Tiptree Tea Rooms at Cressing Temple Barns provide a fantastic selection of food and drink including a lovely cream tea.
From here the route crosses the road and then the railway line before reaching Fambridge Hall.
From here the trail takes you along more quiet country lanes and footpaths to reach the village of Black Notley where John Ray was born and through the church yard in which he is buried.
A little outside the village on Barber Lane is the cottage where John Ray was born, his image now included in the pargeting on the outside wall.
A couple more miles brought me back into Braintree and the end of the trail at the train station.
This is a pretty route through the Essex countryside. As I ran/walked the route I could imagine the days when these trails would have been the way to get from village to village and for John Ray, and others, to walk to school in Braintree. Starting and finishing the route makes it easy to do in either direction with ample car parking (paid) at each end.
The route has markings but these are not consistent and it is the public footpath markings which give you the direction. I found it useful to have my OS mapping App on the phone as back-up.
Click here for a GPX file of the route that you can follow on OS maps
I ran the 10 mile route in 2 hours 14 minutes at an easy pace. It would take about 3 – 3 1/2 hours as a walk.
Let me know your thoughts on this route in the comments below.