RF679 and RT3148 meet at West Kingsdown

Swanley Running Day

Sunday March 20th 2005

Prepared by Ian Smith, 4th April 2005

Part One: Longfield to Wrotham

452: Longfield to West Kingsdown, RF679

My train to Longfield Station got me there about forty minutes before my connection on to the 452 to West Kingsdown. But in that period there was a flurry of bus activity, even on a Sunday morning. Red Route Buses hold the contracts for the Sunday network of services through Longfield, and through came a succession of MetroRiders: G778WFC, a short narrow version, arrived with a 489 to New Ash Green, followed by H613NJB, a longer wider type, on the 423, also to New Ash Green. The latter returned a little while later, now working the 489 to Gravesend, and was followed by single-screen J582CUB on the K14 to Bluewater.

RedRoute G788WFC on 489 at Longfield RedRoute H613NJB on 423 at Longfield RedRoute J582CUB on K14 at Longfield

But then the sight I had been waiting for appeared: RF679 came round the square to pull up at the station behind the red MetroRider.

RF679 on 452 at Longfield RF679 on 452 at Longfield

With a couple of other passengers I joined the RF, and Mike Dawes drove the bus back down to the main road, north along to Longfield Crossroads, and onto the 452 route to West Kingsdown (The 452, a Northfleet route, unusually missed out Longfield Station on its trip from Dartford to West Kingsdown via High Cross and Fawkham. Buses for it reached Dartford from Northfleet in service on the 450 or 480 routes).

We passed under the railway and settled in for the long climb up the delightful narrow dry valley through Fawkham. One felt that rabbits and deer and the odd badger should dodge across the road ahead of the bus, and perhaps they do at other times of day. But today it was just gently pastoral as the green RF churgled up the gradient to Fawkham Green. There we paused for photos, before heading on towards West kingsdown.

Fawkham Valley Road RF679 on 452 at Fawkham Green

Beyond Fawkham Green the valley continued, only to be interrupted by the giant embankment of the M20. The modern road goes through it in a tunnel, then turns left to run between the motorway and a wood, still climbing up to reach West Kingsdown, 400 feet higher up than at Longfield. Suddenly we were there, at the southern end of West Kingsdown. Mike pulled out onto the old A20, and promptly pulled off it into the bus lay-by by the Portobello Inn, the old terminus of the 452. We were rather late, so where was our connection? According to the timetable there should be an RT coming up from Wrotham any minute. But some work with a mobile phone elicited the information that the RT was still on its way out to us from Swanley. A little while later it appeared, drawing in past the RF to make the connection.

RF679 at West Kingsdown, reset for Dartford RT3148 meets RF679 at West Kingsdown

423: West Kingsdown to Wrotham, RT3148

I boarded the RT, and found a seat behind Colin Rivers, the driver. We set off south-eastwards up the A20, soon passing under the motorway again on our climb to the top of Wrotham Hill. The steep south side of the hill was descended carefully, crossing over the motorway just beyond the second roundabout and dropping down to a third roundabout just east of the village. Colin negotiated a way through the village to the church, where we all had to alight while the bus turned. The RT, driver and conductor disappeared up the road, and we watched them turn at the top of the road. Then they gently re-entered Wrotham - down the old main road from pre-motorway days.

RT3148 comes down the old road into Wrotham RT3148 comes down the old road into Wrotham

The RT pulled in to the stop - and then RF633 arrived on a 719 Greenline working. It too squeezed past and went up to turn. By now the villagers had started to gather. one green London Transport bus: unusual. Two: amazing. When GS60 came round the corner there was almost a cheer! But that's a story for Part Two.

RT3148 at Wrotham RF633 squeezes through Wrotham RT3148 and RF633 at Wrotham

Part 2: Wanders with GS60

All photos by Ian Smith. Click on most of them for a larger picture.

Back to Ian's Bus-stop Part 2: Wanders with GS60