RF633 at Fort Halstead

Sevenoaks Running Day

Sunday May 17th 2015

Prepared by Ian Smith, 25th May 2015.

471 to Sevenoaks

Orpington Station

There was a train due in at Orpington just as the feeder bus was due to leave. So I was there half an hour earlier. Orpington Station bus station was not full, but it was an interesting half hour. TfL runs most of its services on Sundays, and at reasonable frequencies, so I saw a good cross-section of the Orpington offering.

At rest on the stance was 8.8m Dart SLF 279, ready to go on the R6 to St.Mary Cray Station. Newer 8.9m Enviro200 Dart 170 arrived on the R1 to St.Paul's Cray. It paused at the station entrance, then pirouetted through the bus station and was quickly gone. As Tommy Cooper would have said "Just like that!".

279 on R6 at Orpington Stn 170 on R6 at Orpington Stn

The next EnviroDart was much longer at 10.8m. It was on the R9 from the Ramsden Estate, on what was earlier the 493 and the 854 (Watch out for the route recreation day later this year!). It was followed in by an even longer bus - Scania OmniCity 515 on the long and winding 358 from Crystal Palace - Heineken route, that reaches places other buses did not go. The Scanias are now old by London standards, and will shortly be replaced. See them, ride them while you can.

744 on R6 at Orpington Stn 515 on 358 at Orpington Stn

Indicating the transition from older Dart SLFs to newer Enviro200Darts came 271 on the R3 from Farnborough Hospital to Chelsfield, and 184 on the R1 from St.Paul's Cray to Green Street Green.

271 on R3 at Orpington Stn 184 on R1 at Orpington Stn

Lest I give the impression that Metrobus has a monopoly in Orpington, the next bus was a Stagecoach doubledecker, Enviro400 Trident 19818 on the 51 to Woolwich.

As that disppeared down the Station Approach not one but two RFs appeared, coming up the slope. In the lead was red RF429, followed by RF146, in modernised 1969 London Transport bus livery.

19818 on 51 at Orpington Stn RF429 on 471 at Orpington Stn

RF146 followed RF429 onto the stance, where both backed onto standing points, next to Stagecoach OmniCity 15068.

RF146 on 431A at Orpington Stn RF146, RF429, 15068 at Orpington Stn

RF146 was the bus allocated to the feeder service from Orpington to Sevenoaks via Polhill, the 431A. RF429 was to mop up any overflow, if too many folk arrived, and was to take the longer route as a 471 via Knockholt Pound and Dunton Green. As it turned out, all the assembled crowd boarded RF146 except me. I climbed aboard RF429.

We followed the green and yellow RF out of the bus station, and down to the War Memorial roundabout, where it drew ahead. RF146 passed under the big railway bridge carrying the Orpington - Sevenoaks railway, and we followed on, catching it up as we approached Green Street Green.

RF429, RF146 at Orpington Stn RF146 goes under the railway

RF146 at Green Street Green

We turned left onto the A21, and followed RF146 up to Pratts Bottom, where we turned right on the 471 and RF146 continued up the main road towards Knockholt Station. It seemed that we had missed Pratts Bottom Summer Fete, which was yesterday. Alan Charman had a commission to photograph the bus at The Bulls Head in Pratts Bottom, so we paused there.

RF429 at Bulls Head, Pratts Bottom RF429 at Bulls Head, Pratts Bottom

The stop attracted the attention of people in the pub, and we had a request to transport two lads up the hill. We pointed out that we were not returning, so a plan was made for a car to pick them up at Knockholt Pound. With two extra passengers we set off again, up the long drag of Rushmore Hill. The trees were magnificent. Eventually we reach the junction with the road from Halstead, and the the straggling village of Knockholt Pound. We reached the stop at The Three Horseshoes, and returned our two passengers to parental care.

Then it was round the corner and along to Star Hill. We gentled our way down the green tunnel at the top of the hill, passed Fort Halstead's back gate, and dropped down the bare limestone escarpment towards Dunton Green, with fantastic views out over the Sevenoaks Weald..

RF429 at Knockholt Pound Star Hill

This morning we didn't stop at Dunton Green Garage - it wasn't there! We carried on to Riverhead, and on past Sevenoaks Station, where we turned up the wonderful St.Botolph's Road. The trees were at their magnificent best in the spring sunshine. We climbed up to the War Memorial at the top, and turned east to run along Sevenoaks High Street to the bus station.

St.Botolph's Road RF429 at Sevenoaks Bus Station

Now it was time to see what had arrived, and to have breakfast in the bus station cafe...

Part Two: Sevenoaks

Ian's Bus-stop One Two Three Four Five Six