A coach had already loaded and gone on the route to Borough Green, so when I turned up there was still room on Maidstone & District Reliance SO224. I found a seat in the middle of the bus, and we pulled out from Parrock Street and headed towards Northfleet to join the old E17 route.
We dropped down along the A2260, onto the line of the erstwhile Gravesend-Longfield branch railway, then wiggled a way through the Perry Street area of Gravesend to reach the underpass at the Tollgate. There we went under the A2 and the Channel Tunnel Rail Link, and headed south. We continued the long climb out of the Thames Valley onto the North Downs, up past Istead Rise. Southdown Guy Arab4 PUF647 came roaring down the hill bound for Gravesend, having set off from Tonbridge. We climbed on, up past Meopham Station and Hook Green, and on up to Meopham Green, where I requested a photo stop.
We drew up at the bus-stop on the corner opposite Meopham Green windmill, and went to take a quick set of pictures. The crew got out and went to inspect the water level in the cooling system after the hard climb. It needed quite a lot!
The gradient eased now, as we ran on over the North Downs ridge through Culverstone Green to the Vigo Inn, and then it was downhill towards Wrotham. We crossed the M20, and wound down past the village. We should have passed through the village, but the water-stop had made us late, so we headed straight past and down to the station at Borough Green.
We turned in the station approach and pulled up behind Hants & Dorset 779, a very smart Bristol LLG6 coach with rear-entrance Portsmouth Aviation body. Everybody piled out, took photos and picked up conkers.
The Bristol loaded up again - with a certain amount of interchange of passengers, and headed off for Gravesend. The blinds on the Reliance were rotated to give the Gravesend destination, and we climbed back aboard.
Again we missed out Wrotham, and climbed the steep escarpment up to Vigo. From there it was a gentle roll northwards down the road to Meopham Green. Southdown Leopard 2726CD rumbled past on its way to Borough Green on service E7. At Meopham Green we passed the Hants & Dorset Bristol, and rolled on down into Gravesend.
We headed directly down to central Gravesend, and round the loop to reach Parrock Street, where we all alighted. Green Line National SNC168 followed the Reliance into the bus park, off a 702 working, and I went to see what GreenLine workings were going out.
All photos by Ian Smith. Click on most of them for a larger picture.
Back to Ian's Bus-stop Part 1: to Gravesend Part 3: Gravesend again