RF28 was now carrying blinds for the 712 to Luton. It was to run the direct GreenLine route via Harpenden, while RF308 was taking the long way round via Wheathampstead and Batford.
RF308 started from City Station, and arrived promptly at 1100 with a load of model railway visitors from the station. It exchanged passengers, and set off past RF28 for its run north.
One of Universitybus' own Darts, long 118, emerged from Hatfield Road on the 602 to Watford. I climbed aboard RF28, and for a minute or two had a driver's eye view (until our driver got in!). The two RTs passed us to round the roundabout, looking glorious in the morning sunshine.
We headed north from St.Albans, past the site of the bus garage and left along the main A1081. It didn't take long to lumber across the rolling countryside to Harpenden, and we went straight on at the roundabout (the buses turned right to Bowling Alley) to run straight into the town. I saw the Church and Green from a different angle as we motored past.
We did make a stop at a bus stop on the northern fringe, for me to take a picture, then we were on up the A1081, rolling round the edge of Luton Hoo Park.
We crossed the Luton south by-pass at a roundabout and went on a half-mile along London Road before turning right into Cutenhoe Road. A mile of traffic humps and other obstacles took us down to meet Park Street. We turned left along it, and rumbled into Luton, passing under the Inner Ring Road to reach the old terminus at Park Street. RF308 was already there, and we turned round the roundabout and pulled up behind it.
RF28 set off past us, only to return a few minutes later, presumably to try to find the way west onto London Road for the return journey, (which was different from the inward route via Cutenhoe Road). We set off, and turned east to reach the Lea Valley road. We turned south-east down the valley, following the Midland Main Line and the erstwhile Luton-Hatfield railway. After that had closed its place was taken by the 366 Express along this road to Welwyn Garden City. Nowadays it is hard to realise that the 365 was an industrial route, serving the numerous mills at intervals down the energetic little river.
We ducked under the Main Line to reach Batford, on the eastern fringes of Harpenden, where I asked for a brief photo-stop at a bus stop. Then we went on again, still following the riverside road, to reach Wheathampstead, where we turned right onto the road for St.Albans. We dipped down to cross the Lea, then climbed up through the village and on up the hill to Nomansland. We drove along the broad side of the hill along to Sandridge, and pulled in at the small bus lay-by at the Church for some more photos.
We continued towards St.Albans. T792 came along on the 355 to Harpenden. We pulled up at the bus stop opposite the old garage site, where we were advised to alight unless we wanted to go via the station. I alighted.
I walked along towards St.Peters Street, RF308 chortled up behind me, but such was the speed of the traffic at the roundabout that we reached it at the same time. RF308 turned left down Hatfield Road towards the station. LS444 twirled round the roundabout, more than filling my viewfinder, and roared off back down the street behind a screen of cars. Such is the lot of picture-snappers.
I walked on down St.Peters Street, heading for the control gazebo and the public toilets. At the former I discovered that the 338, my next target, was not operating, due to bus non-availability, as RT3871 was filling in on the 341. You don't want to know about the other, except possibly that they exist, they work, and they are clean, even on Sundays.
On my way back I met RML2330. Claire invited me to take a trip to Welwyn Garden Centre, whither she was bound from Hemel Hempstead, but I had other plans for now.
Vivid colour contrasts were apparent on St.Peters Street, between visiting RML2323 in light London Country green and yellow, and Uno Bus's Solo in pink and violet on the S1.
LS444 looked splendid in Red Arrow livery, waiting for another trip on the 84. RT3871 came in from Hatfield, from a turn on the 341, and pulled in ahead of RT3254, which was almost ready to head out on the 803 Express.
Guess where I was going next...
Part Four: There & Back Again
Photos by Ian Smith. Click on any of them for a larger picture.
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