Colin went offto get something to eat while I minded the bus. RMC1500 pulled out from the bus station on a 704 to Green Street Green, having taken over the run from RF28. The Westerham destination blind was presumably the closest Roy had.
A few minutes later came a service actually going to Westerham: RT3148 on the 403.
Back in the main bus-park SC390 was resting after a trip on the 55 to Kemsing, next to RF489 which had been on the morning trip to Orpington. Green Line coach Routemaster RCL2260 passed through en route to Tonbridge on the 704.
The M&D Reliance started up and came round past RF679 to take up an afternoon trip on the 106 to Fawke Common, bringing back pleasant memories of this trip last year. RT3183 came into the bus station stands on a southbound 403 from Westerham.
Colin returned, and it was time for us to head round into the bus station with RF679 for the afternoon trip on the 431 to Orpington.
We followed RML2330 round to the bus station. The big Routemaster was taking over the 403 journey from RT3183.
We pulled into the other bay and loaded well for the 431 trip. The infrequent 431 always did go down St.Botolph's Road to the railway station, so that way we went, pulling in at the station bus stop for a quick picture.
Then it was on northwards to Riverhead, through the notorious junction there and on into Dunton Green. We saluted the ex-garage as we passed the housing block there, and continued up through the village, bearing left to cross the M25 at the foot of Star Hill.
To say that we romped up Star Hill would be a gross exageration, but RF679 took it steadily and confidently, affording us some excellent views southwards towards the sandstone Weald. Soon we were up into the trees on the top of the chalk escarpment, passing the back door of Fort Halstead towards Knockholt Pound.
We bore left at the fork in the village, to pull up outside the Three Horseshoes.
Then it was a sharp turn round the triangle and down the lane to Halstead. There are London style bus-stops here. We noted that the service bus again goes both ways round the Cudham loop, with different route numbers, and that both do a double-run to serve Halstead. We paused at a Halstead bus-stop.
Then it was on, past the Cock Inn and down the lane to emerge on the old main road south of Knockholt Station. We went down the hill towards the station, then turned steeply up right, up Wheatsheaf Hill, to meet Hewitts Roundabout on the main road to Orpington (and nowadays the M25). We crossed over into Hewitts Lane, which is barely wide enough for the bus, and these days impassable for double-deckers. Even in the RF we had to watch for dangling branches. But we made it through to Maypole without meeting any traffic, and continued down Maypole Lane to emerge at Chelsfield.
We sidled into Chelsfield, where there was bunting and lots of cars. We turned right into Chelsfield Lane - a bus route , and left into Warren Road, also a bus route. There our luck ran out, as a stream of cars came the other way. Most wriggled past, but one irate lady was unable to do so, and eventually backed off. We continued to the Orpington by-pass, and turned right, down the gentle hill past Goddington Lane to Spur Road, where we turned into Orpington.
At the War Memorial roundabout we met a stream of red buses. Metrobus 252 Darted round the corner ahead of us to head for the station on R3, while East Lancs bodied 257 bustled past the other way on the R1 for Green Street Green. Selkent offered Trident 17971 on the 61 as we approached the turnoff for the station.
We turned up the Station Approach. Everyone had to alight at the station entrance while the bus was turned in TfL's bus stance, then rejoined the bus at the bus stops. It is all a far cry from the old days when it was just a yard where buses turned.
We set off back towards Sevenoaks. Another Dart, Metrobus' 274, whirled round the War Memorial on a B14 from Bexleyheath.
We trundled out from Orpington, and climbed the gentle slope up the Orpington by-pass to Chelsfield. Warren Road caused fewer problems this time: oncoming drivers were polite and competent. So we squeezed through Chelsfield without difficulty, and turned into the narrow opening of Maypole Road. Maypole, and Hewitts Lane beyond, were likewise negotiated without problems, if slowly. We emerged onto the hurly-burly of Hewitts Roundabout, and dived into the peace of Wheatsheaf Hill, dropping down over the railway cutting to reach the old Bromley Road. We zig-zagged across it into Halstead, and climbed up through the village to pause outside The Cock.
Then it was on, still climbing gently up the back-slope of the North Downs, to reach The Three Horseshoes at Knockholt Pound.
We swooshed down Star Hill to Dunton Green, where I alighted at the Dukes Head, opposite the old garage, to await the arrival of RCL2260 on the 704.
Part Four: 704: Green Street Green
Photos by Ian Smith. Click on any of them for a larger picture.
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