Today we set out to see if we could follow NCN11 all the way to Stansted Mountfichet, where it apparently runs out. On the way (and before we set off) we did our best to make a start with our copy of the Usborne Spotter's Guide to Birds, which was a present from mum (she gave us each a copy, and kept one herself).
NCN11 review: much better than expected. It has some of the usual flaws (trying to use the pavement on busy stretches, with dismounts for side roads, and some slightly long detours) but once it got to Hinxton it was actually lovely, with some great single track roads, and the one big detour was a lovely route so well worth it, and probably only added a couple of miles. It needs a better route between Shelford and Hinxton really we were wondering if it's the ford/mini-bridge at Duxford that puts them off the Little Shelford/Whittlesford/Duxford route instead.
It's been an absolutely gorgeous day, even if a bit cold. Cold enough that we found there were a few places which still had snow on the road, never mind icy puddles, and one tiny one-track road had a 100m section which was basically ice the whole way across the road. We got off and walked up that bit! Totally beautiful though, and we had a lovely time, and got to Stansted Mountfichet just 15 minutes before the hourly train home, which couldn't have been much better timing!
Route map extracted from the GPS here: http://www.bikely.com/maps/bike-path/2010-01-03-NCN11. Almost exactly 25 miles.
And here's the birds we've seen:
- Blue tit
- Carrion Crow
- Common Gull (maybe)
- Grey Heron
- House Sparrow
We're fairly sure we saw both rooks and crows, given a good look at legs and beak with the binoculars, and the crows being in pairs and the rooks in larger groups. The gull I'm less sure wasn't a Herring Gull though: from a distance it's hard to tell size, but the book describes the common gull as being more northern, but sometimes southern and inland during the winter, and doesn't mention the herring gull coming inland, which is what made us initially decide that's what it was. Herring gulls score fewer points though, so I suspect since we saw several more later on that that's what they were. The fieldfare was definitely a treat though, since I don't think I've seen one before, and from the drawings it couldn't really have been anything else: the pale front, rich brown back and grey head were very distinctive.
Brilliant day out.
Now with added Photos: over on Facebook (public link)