Hertford & Stevenage Running Day
Sunday 4th June 2017
Prepared by Ian Smith, 24th June 2017.
On Sunday morning I made my way back to Stevenage by train from Kings Cross. Outside the station I waited at the bus stop for a service bus up to the Old Town. It came in the form of Enviro300 3555, now of Arriva South Counties, on Stevenage local route SB9. That whisked me quickly to the White Lion. Unsure which way the RT would arrive, I crossed to the southbound stop, where Enviro200 3792 soon came past on a 100 to the Bus Station. I did not spot the RT coming the other way, until suddenly it was there, pulling up at the west-side stop. I crossed over to join it.
303: Stevenage (White Lion) to Stevenage Bus Station (RT3148)I was back on RT3148 as navigator today. I would not see as much as if I wandered around from bus to bus at Hertford, but I LIKE RT3148 . The bus is excellent, going well. Its bodywork needs overhaul, showing signs of age in places, with replaced screws and fading paint - although the top and roof have been replaced/repainted, as can be seen in the pictures: green paint darkens and blues over time. The crew works well too: John Huxford is an excellent driver, and Les enjoys conducting. I joined the bus at the White Lion, and we set off, north to the big roundabout, then back through the old High Street, down to Trinity Church. A quick burst down the A602 past the railway station and we were turning in to the bus station.
303: Stevenage Bus Station to Welwyn Garden City Stn and return (RT3148)Stevenage Bus Station was quiet. A brace of Arriva E300s, in interurban blue/blue, stood in the central stance awaiting their turn. We wound up the blinds for a trip south to Welwyn Garden City.
We headed south, back past Roaring Meg and the Tesco store, onto the Knebworth Road. The sun shone as we climbed over the ridge to Knebworth, and up towards Woolmer Green. We climbed over the wooded Mardley Hill, and drifted down towards Welwyn. We passed under the A1(M) and climbed Church Hill, turning left to roll down to Welwyn Church, where we paused.
We continued, wiggling through the old village of Welwyn, and left into Prospect Place, and on to the roundabout under the A1(M). We headed for Digswell, and turned right at the roundabout and then right again to climb up Digswell Road under the trees, again by-passing the Knightsfield big dipper.
We came down towards the Garden City, and shuffled east to find the Bus Station. There we answered questions about possible connections to Hertford, then set off to retrace our route to Stevenage Bus Station.
390: Stevenage Bus Station to Hertford via Watton (RT3148)Back at Stevenage we made a change. The blinds were changed to route 390 - front, rear, side and under the canopy - and the garage plates from HF (Hatfield) to HG (Hertford). (Stevenage RTs only did local runs on the 390 as far as Aston, while a few Hertford RTs supplemented the normal RF service on journeys dfrom Hertford to the closed station at Watton.)
We loaded up and set off south, back onto Six Hills Way then Monks Wood Way past Roaring Meg. But then instead of veering right for Knebworth we kept on the main road, sweeping eastwards past the vast Broadwater Estate. (The 390 used to go through the estate, but the route is no longer accessible for buses). We passed Brgbury End, where the Stevenage shorts turned off for Aston), and roared on south, to the roundabout north of Watton-at-Stone. There we forked right, off the by-pass onto the old road through the village. We picked our way along the street, then at a mini-roundabout turned right, up the hill to the railway station of Watton. Although shown on Country Area maps for years as "Watton Station (closed)", the station has been re-opened, and is now surrounded by new housing, replacing the poppy-fields of just a few years ago.
After turning and standing a few minutes by the station we returned down the hill to Watton, and turned right for Hertford. We squeezed through the village street, and turned left under the trees to reach the main road, where we turned right for the rural ride through Stapleford and Waterford. This could never have been a lucrative route - hence the RFs I suppose. These days it rates a midibus.
But Hertford was busy. We ducked under the railway bridge at Hertford North station, and drove on along through the town. An RF! RF429 was showing blinds for the 333 to Bengeo as it squeezed through the busy street, although it might just have been on a tour round the town. It was followed by Centrebus Solo 327, actually on the 333, which has regained a Sunday service.
We had to emerge onto the inner by-pass to run along to Bircherley Green, and then round the narrow streets to reach the bus station. It was time for John to take a break, so I alighted from RT3148 to see what was on offer...
Ian's Bus-stop One Two Three Four Five Six