RT3148 at Hatfield

Route 303 Recreation Day

Saturday 3rd June 2017

Prepared by Ian Smith, 23rd June 2017.

303: New Barnet Stn to Hitchin (RT3148)

We lazed in the sunshine at New barnet Station. Metroline buses came and went. I did not take pictures of all of them: too lazy! Amongst them were EnviroTrident TE831 on a 107 to Edgware, and sister TE936 on a 307.

TE831 on 107 at New Barnet Station TE936 on 307 at New Barnet Station

The Route Recreation Club gathered as the appointed hour(s) approached: there was a variation in the time depending on the source of information! WE climbed aboard RT3148 and set off, back towards High Barnet. We passed EnviroDart DEM1341 scurrying towards Cockfosters on the 384. We passed under the Northern Line, and climbed up Barnet Hill. Plenty of buses came past down the hill, mostly Metroline, but including uno 601 on a 383. Barnet was busy with buses too, including London Sovereign's DE20011 on a 326 to Brent Cross.

DEM1341 on 384 near New Barnet Station DE20011 on 326 in Barnet

Metroline's DEL848 hustled past on an 84 to New Barnet Station, and TE943 rolled past on a 134 to North Finchley.

DEL848 on 84 in Barnet TE943 on 134 in Barnet

Then we were beyond Barnet, passing Hadley Highstone into the country, leaving the Central Area bustle behind. But we did see new Volvo/Wright Hybrid VWH2049 heading south from Potters Bar to take up duties much further south on the 34. Then we were passing Potters Bar, up past the garage once more, but this time continuing north.

VWH2049 heads south TE1098, PB

Then it became properly rural, up through Brookman's Park, the expensive houses of this part of Hertfordshire well hidden from the road. We did not take the 303A route through Welham Green. Soon we were arriving at the south end of Hatfield. No estate deviations. We went directly to Hatfield Station, turning into the newish bus station, where we paused.

RT3148 at Hatfield Station RT3148 at Hatfield Station

Other buses came and went. Long Enviro300 Dart 3573, latterly Arriva the Shires, now Arriva Southern Counties following the Arriva reshuffle, was probably on the Hemel Hempstead - Stevenage route, although the electronic display was not talking to my camera. Uno's Citaro 313 was on the 602 to Watford. Someone commented on the uno colour scheme, and I pointed out that it was the colour negative of the old Country Area green and cream.

Arriva Southern Counties 3573 at Hatfield Station uno313 on 602 at Hatfield Station

We continued up the 303 route, north from the station, then left at the lights to heads through Hatfield, then jinking right to cross to the old road beside the modern by-pass tunnel. At Oldings Corner we headed for Stanborough Lakes, where we turned right to head into Welwyn Garden City. A couple more half-right forks along the A6129 took us onto Broadwater Road, which took us up east of the station. We turned left - onto Bridge Road - and soared up over the East Coast Main Line, before a tight left turn took us down into the bus station. We paused there too, for refreshment and relief!

Then my camera battery gave up for the day - so it was over to the mobile phone. An Arriva Citaro passed by on a 724 to Heathrow. The only indication of Green Line status was the cantrail strapline applied to standard Arriva livery.

RT3148 at Welwyn Garden City Station Citaro on 724 at Welwyn Garden City Station

RT3148 at Welwyn Church After a little while spent at the cafe we set off again, circling round the large roundabout to head north up Digswell Road. We chose the route variant that avoid the big dipper over Knightsfield, and continued over the ridge to come down into the Mimram valley, where we turned left for Welwyn. We passed the end of Prospect Place, erstwhile terminus of the GS-operated 388, and turned right to descend into the village along the old London Road. Another right turn took us to the stop at Welwyn Church.
Going on, we climbed Church Street, then turned down to the right to pass under the A1(M) onto the Great North Road. We climbed up over Mardley Hill, then glided down to Woolmer Green, joining the 329 route down into the traffic nightmare of Knebworth: narrow winding street, parked cars everywhere, no common sense. But we picked a way through, and continued up the main road beyond the 329's turn-off to Knebworth Station. Then over the hill there was Stevenage ahead of us. We crossed over the Hertford Loop and passed the Tesco store without getting traffic-snarled. We forked right into Monkswood Way, past Roaring Meg Retail Park, to Six Hills Way, where we turned left along to the roundabout just south of the Stevenage Bus Station.
The bus station was remarkably quiet. We did not stay long. Soon we were back out to the roundabout, and heading north past the current railway station. We turned right to enter the Old Town, and pottered up the old High Street. Then it was back onto the A602, to head north to the roundabout under the A1(M). We made sure that we hit the right exit for Hitchin, as the old route, through Little Wymondeley, now has the road under the railway plated at just 14ft 3in.

So we roared along the main road towards Hitchin, turning round the roundabout at the south end of the town to descend the cutting to pass the old garage site and reach the traditional terminus at St.Mary's Square.

RT3148 at Stevenage Bus Station RT3148 at Hitchin

303: Hitchin to Stevenage Bus Stn (RT3148)

The return to Stevenage was somewhat anti-climactic, after the long drag north. We circled left down into the town, then perforce had to follow the one-way system up the hill off the High Street to join the by-pass. Then it was back along the A602 to Stevenage, under the A1(M) and round to meet the north end of the High Street in the Old Town. We trundled down the High Street, then had to follow the traffic back out onto the A602 for the run past the station. We turned in to the Bus Station, and that was it for the day. Bus and crew were staying in Stevenage overnight, but I wasn't, this year. So I paid my farewells, and crossed the long footbridge to the railway station for a London-bound train.

RT3148 at Stevenage Bus Station

Part Three: Sunday morning

Ian's Bus-stop One Two Three Four Five Six