Such a beautiful day in the Essex countryside.
The John Ray Walk is a partnership between The John Ray Trust, Essex County Council, Braintree District Council, the Ramblers Association and Parish Councils along the route. The walk is one of a number of environmental projects devised to celebrate the life and achievements of John Ray. The walk is 10 miles long and links the towns of Braintree and Witham. It is linear and can be walked in either direction. The start/end point in both towns is the railway station.
Today the start was at Witham and bathed in glorious spring sunshine.
Essex is often shunned by neighbouring counties for trail running but this route (that shares some of it's KMs with the Essex Way) is stunning. The trail covers every type of terrain from small lanes, to farm track, church graveyards, country estates, small villages and beautiful rolling hills.
Beware there is a dog - let's call it Fast Eddie. Eddie has a growl that is more vicious and no obvious sign of a bite. It did feel prudent to slow down and let Fast Eddie feel like the boss.
At the Cressing Barns it wasn't obvious where the path was - advice here is to stick to the fence by the road so that you find it and then the route straight across the main road.
In the winter this route is a mudfest. In April most of the mud has disappeared and the trails are just dirt and fast.
Today the half way point was Braintree. The first 16.5 KM covered in 1 hour and 28 minutes. Time for a pic
Then a second Gu gel and back through Braintree and the reverse journey.
After a few KM and some decent 5 minute KM pacing the energy levels were dipping and it was time to break out the super-weapon - a new 80Noir Ultra chocolate bar. In the past any attempt to take or make anything with chocolate has been a sticky disaster. These bars ARE sensational. They have been designed with quality in mind and are becoming a much loved energy source by some seriously good ultra athletes. I did what Dr Renee Macgregor always recommends and ate the bar in three small bites over the next few minutes. Boom - fantastic taste - no mess - and ready to tackle the final 10km.
Now that the route was known there was no mistake heading back to Cressing Barn and the pace was great. When the farm and Fast Eddie approached I decided to take a radical approach and go around the farm and through some hedges
Not sure if hedge was better than Eddie!
Beautiful last few KM heading back to Witham and with a sub 3hr on the cards it felt right to get a few quicker KMs in.
Absolutely loved this FKT - check out details - https://fastestknowntime.com/route/john-ray-walk-united-kingdom
Total time 2hrs 55 mins and 37 seconds for 33 KM