The weather forecast was rather dubious when we met at RF679's Kent garage early (0715) on the Sunday morning. RF679 was already out of her shed and warming up, already cleaned and polished ready for the day. We set off for Ashford, for our first pickup of the morning, then rolled on along the A20 beside the Channel Tunnel Rail Link: little sign of activity this morning, but all the track and overhead wiring seemed to be in place, and the construction yard had almost been dismantled.
At Lenham we met with red RF429, and made a fuel stop. Then we headed west for Maidstone and Wrotham, where we joined the A25. There seem to be an awful lot of traffic lights along this road! All red of course. The scenery subtly changed after Riverhead, as the old A25 was now even quieter and more rural past the villages of Chipstead and Brasted and along to Westerham.
We had planned to meet up with RF4 in Westerham and enjoy a breakfast at the Kings Arms. It was not to be. The hotel was full, and could not accommodate our little band for breakfast. We tried the Rendezvous Cafe. It was full, at 0920 on a Sunday morning, but that might have been because the service was so slow.
At 1000 I gave up and left, breakfast-less, in order to rejoin Colin Rivers on RF679, which was due to form the 1000 464 service from Westerham to Chart, and then on to Oxted. The bus was parked outside the George and Dragon, having been turned by Colin at the old turning point on the Croydon road.
We left Westerham - and RF4 and RF429 - and rolled down the hill to the Crockham Hill road, where we turned south. The RF engine was heard to good effect as we climbed up onto the Greensand Ridge, through delightful scenery, to reach Crockham Hill. There we turned west onto the road to Limpsfield Chart, with superb sunlit views to the south over the Weald. We motored serenely along the ridge, amidst the trees breaking into full spring leaf, to reach Chart, where we turned off carefully between the rows of cars parked outside the church. We stopped outside the Carpenters Arms, at the bus-stop, and changed the blinds to become a 494 for the run on to Oxted Station.
We could not stop for long, as we were blocking the road, so after the blind change we were off again across leafy Limpsfield Chart, back to join the A25. We by-passed Limpsfield Village, with its speed-bumps, and continued to Oxted, turning off to run down to the east side of the station. We paused to allow red RT2043 to roar past on the 1000 feeder service from Sevenoaks Station. We followed on, under the no-longer-low bridge at the north end of Oxted Station, and round to the bus-stop, pulling up behind the RT.
GS1 was waiting at the stop opposite, having arrived from Holland, and was ready to form the 1045 494 service to East Grinstead. I checked that there was room, and swapped to GS1 with John Huxford. RF679 and RT2043 were due away at 1030, via 494 and Godstone respectively. Soon we were off, round the block and up the hill past Old Oxted, with the Perkins diesel roaring lustily.
We turned south for the long run south through Tandridge to Crowhurst Lane End with its single-deckers-only railway bridge, where we turned left for Lingfield. All along the way the hedges and house gardens were bedecked with St George's flags, the local custom on the Sunday to celebrate St George's Day. We turned up through Lingfield, pausing at the Post Office for photos, then turned left for Felcourt and Baldwins Hill.
John stopped at the bus-stop at the latter, to await the arrival of GREEN GS2, the first occasion that the two buses would meet since GS2's change of livery. After a couple of minutes Peter Aves came the other way with GS2, and pulled up just down the road. Greetings were exchanged, and photos taken, then we went our respective ways.
We continued into East Grinstead, via an official back-roads diversion to meet the A22, and drove into town to terminate at a dolly-stop in King Street.
Now, where was breakfast?
All photos by Ian Smith. Click on any of them for a larger picture.
Back to Ian's Bus-stop Part 2: East Grinstead.