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Kingfishers at Christmas!

On Christmas Day, I decided to have a bike ride, while the turkey cooked. I started with a minor detour, to see whether I could see the kingfishers again.

I first saw them about 10 days ago as I rode the footpath from Braintree station to the bottom of Rose Hill. I rode past the station allotments, crossed the stream via the bridge, and turned right. Then I reached the next bridge where there is the weir. And I saw the turquoise back of the kingfisher, as he sat on the white railings. As I rode towards him, he flew down the old mill race (alongside the path) to perch on a tree, and then I saw there were two of them, flitting along the water, into the undergrowth just before I reached the footpath end at Rose Hill. How wonderful is that! An environment sufficiently unpolluted to support a pair of kingfishers!

I pedalled back to the Flitch Way, with a song in my heart. I’d decided to ride into the wind (16 mph) on the way out, with a tail wind on the way back. Half way up the incline to Rayne, I met Mave and John – who were in singularly good form, having a walk on Christmas morning. They have seen kingfishers recently in the low-lying land around the back of Sun Lido Square Gardens. So maybe we have a breeding population?

I rode on, joining the road at Rayne station. At the roundabout at the west end of Rayne, the road was still flooded, but was passable with care. I rode through Stebbing where I saw Patrick with his family and called a greeting, although I suspected he did not recognise me, all wrapped up in my cold weather gear. There were few cyclists out, but the occasional one I saw, was similar to the teenager, with a very shiny new bike, who I chatted to when I rode through Stebbing.

I turned right at Bran End, then left towards Lindsell. I took the first left turning towards Great Easton. The roads were virtually empty so it was a fantastic ride. I took a left/right across the B184, passing the Jaguar garage on my right. At the bottom of the hill, where the road crosses the River Chelmer, it was clear there had been recent flooding, although it was dry enough to cross.

I stopped at the bus-stop on the junction for my hot chocolate, before pedalling north on the west side of the river. There were several points where flooding had deposited silt across the road. I turned right to head up to Duton Hill, then went back across the B184 to Lindsell. I took the road and track back to the north side of Andrewsfield, returning to Braintree via Pods Lane and the Flitch Way.

A lovely bright, cold bike ride, where I met a couple of people I knew. Just right for a Christmas morning with minimal socialising allowed. 27 miles, 9 mph, 3 hours pedalling time.


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