Route 703 Recreation
Saturday 1st August 2015
Prepared by Ian Smith, 5th August 2015.
703: Victoria to Amersham
After we had greeted John and Gill Hinson on RF280 we pulled round past them for the sake of photographers, and pulled up in front. We had a planned break of fifteen minutes there. So RF679 was left on its own as RF280 headed off for Bromley and Tunbridge Wells.
I say alone, but the Buckingham Palace stop is still visited by Green Line services. One of the huge six-wheeler Acrons, Arriva the Shires' 4374, parked behind us on the 757 to Luton.
We would see more of 4374. It set off at about the same time as us, and we kept pace up Park Lane to Marble Arch. One of the immensely-long tour buses squeezed us at the chicane on Park Lane, moving into our lane, losing us an orange glass from the nearside trafficator.
We headed up Edgware Road. There were plenty of what Nigel would refer to as "red cornflake boxes", including Tower Transit's hybrid EnviroTrident DNH39121 on the 23. There were single-deckers too, such as Metroline's EnviroDart DE1327, on the 46 to Lancaster Gate, with few passengers.
A few moments later sister DE1332 popped out in front of us, heading the other way on the horseshoe-shaped route to Farringdon.
Then we were away up the 18 route to Sudbury. Unusually, the Harrow road is more or less a solo bus route, with just crossing routes and the occasional shared section. But there was a little variety: Metroline VW1253 was on railway replacement, Tower Transit's VNW32383 was on the 28 to Wandsworth, VW1868 was a native on the 18. We caught up with VW1843 on a Sudbury-bound 18. VW1867 was going the other way to Euston.
We came up behind London United's ADE62 on the 220 in Harlesden High Street, but this was a brief route encounter. We came up behind DE1665 as it crossed our route on the 224. Similarly Metroline VW1183 on a 297 bound for Willesden Garage, met as our paths crossed in Wembley. There was a steady procession of 18s heading for Euston.
Slight variety in vehicle type was provided by EnviroTrident TE980 on the 204, and middle-length EnviroDart DEM1913 on the 224.
In Sudbury we lost the company of the busy 18 route, but briefly shared the 92 and 245 as well as the 182. TE1984 was on the 92, VW1365 on the 245, and elderly President VP338 on the 182.
There was some debate about the 703 routing through Harrow, but as it happened we had little choice. We wiggled through Harrow and followed the 183 route towards Pinner. This route is serviced by London Sovereign's Scanias, such as SP79.
Harrow local routes H19 and H18 are worked by Arriva the Shires' Cadets, on contract to TfL, therefore red, such as 3717.
We passed Pinner, end-point for the 183, and headed for Northwood, sharing the road with elderly Presidents on the H12, and modern EnviroDarts on the H11. We came into Northwood. There was more discussion about the routing through Northwood, but we turned right up the High Street, then left down Green Lane to rejoin the Rickmansworth Road towards Mount Vernon Hospital. Proof that we were escaping from the metropolis was provided by Arriva the Shires VDL Centro 3403, coming back from the hospital on an 8 to Abbots Langley.
We only coincided with the horseshoe-shaped 331 route for a short way, but nevertheless met DE1811.
We passed the entrance to Mount Vernon Hospital, and then were off the current London bus map for the first time since Swanley. We made our way into Rickmansworth. The RF - or maybe the route displayed - attracted much interest as we wriggled through the town. We met RedLine's lime green Dart SLF Y962KRX on its way to Mount Vernon Hospital.
After a serious wiggle, down the hill to a roundabout and back up again we reached Rickmansworth Station, where we paused to change drivers and take pictures.
The road to Amersham was very quiet: no buses at all. We made our way past Chorleywood and Little Chalfont, then turned right under the Metropolitan Railway to enter upper Amersham. We wiggled our way round to the station, then descended the long hill of Station Road back into the valley, to the original village of Amersham. We came to a halt in the bus stop layby opposite the old Amersham garage: journey's end.
But that was not the end of the day's activities: our Green Line had a local journey to follow..
Ian's Bus-stop One Two Three Four Five Six Seven