RF633, Eastwick

Hertford & Stevenage

Saturday 4th, Sunday 5th June 2011

Prepared by Ian Smith, 8th June 2010.

388 Hertford to Mardley Hill: RF633

On our way back from our hotel in Hertford's centre we saw some examples of current bus operation in the area: Roadrunner's MAN/East Lancs Myllenium came in on the 392 from Harlow. Despite having the bus since February 2010, the company still resorts to pieces of paper in the windscreen for the route information. Then we passed DAF/Wright Cadet 4522 on the local 395. I think this still belongs to Arriva The Shires.

RX53LFH at Hertford on 392 4522 on 395, Hertford

Back in London Road the clan gathered for the Route Recreation Run on the 388. Although Hertford Running Days had frequently worked to Welwyn via the 388, there had not been a service through to Mardley Hill on any Running Day. There was speculation whether it would be GS2 or RF633, especially when GS2 was seen to arrive too. But the GS went off to park securely, and the Club gathered at the RF, on which the Mardley Hill blinds were wound up..

GS2 at Hertford RF633 on 388, Hertford

At half past three we set off, outside the first section of town on the bypass, then into the west end of Hertford along towards Hertford North Station. We paused there, before continuing under the railway and turning left onto the B1000 Welwyn Road. We followed that out into the country, and on reaching the woods forked right onto the narrow lane to Tewin. Traffic was light, so we could pause in the dappled sunshine under the tunnel of trees to take "country" pictures.

Then it was on along the twisty narrow section where we hoped not to meet anyone at all, through to Tewin, where we pulled up alongside the wooden bus shelter.

RF633 on 388, near Tewin RF633 on 388, Tewin

RF633 on 388, Tewin RF633 on 388, Tewin

We continued on from Tewin to Burnham Green - which has a neat brick-built bus shelter on the Green.

RF633 on 388, Burnham Green RF633 on 388, Burnham Green

Then it was on to Harmer Green, with its peculiar twist in the road, and down - and up to Welwyn North Station. Photos were taken there too, but I didn't: I find it a peculiarly difficult place to get a decent picture.

We carefully descended the steep little gulley (Harmer Green Lane) that leads down from the station, and turned right under impressive Digswell Viaduct, which so effectively strangles rail traffic between London and the North. RF633 rumbled west through a nest of chicanes and speed bumps to rejoin the A1000 at a roundabout. We scurried under the A1(M) into Welwyn and passed by Welwyn Place, the old turning point for Welwyn. Then it was down the Great North Road into Welwyn village.

We stopped at the bus stop at Welwyn Church for photos, and watched long EnviroDart 3563 sneak past on a 300 for St.Albans.

RF633 on 388, Welwyn Church

3563 on 300, Welwyn Church RF633 on 388, Welwyn Church

We rejoined the bus and climbed over the hill above the church, and dropped back down to the east to pass under the A1(M). We followed the old Great North Road up the hill to Mardley Hill shops, then dived off the main road into an even older section of the Great North Road, to find the Mardley Hill terminus of the 388. The bus was turned (using Robbery Bottom Lane!).

RF633 on 388, Mardley Hill RF633 on 388, Mardley Hill

303 Mardley Hill to Stevenage: RF633

The next stage of our journey was just to get to Stevenage. The 303 route links them up, and Stevenage used RFs on 303 works journeys within the town, although they did not venture to Mardley Hill (Go on, prove me wrong!). We had a simple Stevenage 303 blind, and I noticed that the bus now sported SV running plates.

Turning out of the old spur onto the main road was not easy - buses were not meant to turn this way. But we made it (or rather, Peter Aves made it), and climbed up over the hill and down into Knebworth. Not long after that we were running into the weird landscape of Stevenage: factories, retail parks, dual carriageways, green spaces and a network of cycleways threading through it all. We found the bus station, and alighted while the crew took a break.

RF633 on 303, Mardley Hill RF633 on 303, Stevenage

Stevenage Bus Station at five o'clock on a Saturday was full of bustle, with returning shoppers' services. The central bus stance was full. Typical were Centrebus Solo 389, Arriva Dart SLF 3219 and Arriva's Volvo/Wright 3322 on the 101 to Luton.

389, 3218, 3322, Stevenage Bus Stn

Arriva's MPD 3491 squeezed past, and further along the row were Volvo B10BLE 3309 on SB2 and Volvo B7RLE 3869 on SB4.

389, 3218, 3322, Stevenage Bus Stn 3322 on 101, 3309 on SB2, 3869 on SB4, Stevenage Bus Stn

I walked off to find something to quench my thirst. Across the bus station RF633 looked really smart. When I returned a space had opened up on the central rank, and the bus had moved there to clear the stop.

RF633, Stevenage Bus Stn RF633, Stevenage Bus Stn

There was much more activity as we waited for RF633 to come back to the stand for the 386...

Part Three: Route Recreation 386

Photos by Ian Smith. Click on any of them for a larger picture.

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