Erith (Bexley Road) to Bluewater
Thursday October 20th 2011
Exceptionally, we ran for this bus – there is a row of bus stops along the Bexley Road/sort of riverfront (just glimpsed through the built up bits) and of course the one we needed was furthest from the stop where we left the 469. Fortunately someone saw us coming and held the bus so we flopped into our fourth single-decker of the day at just 2 minutes to 1PM. A bus ridden in hunger (as opposed to anger) never produces the best results so we ate the rest of the Turkish Delight.
The route follows the River Cray, a tributary of the River Darent which enters the Thames between Erith and Greenhithe, so it was not surprising that we went through both Barnes Cray, and more obviously Crayford, which retains something of the feel of a former village and river crossing.
Crayford morphs into Dartford. Approaches by road into Dartford from most directions involve hills; not surprising really that an important river crossing will be at the lowest point and even today Dartford is strategic in the sense it is where the M25 crosses the river at quite a wide point – the bridge is very beautiful if a little scary to cross, but as far as I can see no buses do this trip. If you are keen for this experience try this link, but there is a pretty tedious lead-in.
We knew we were on the way into Dartford when we saw all the grammar school boys out in their lunch hour, perhaps tempted to pop into ‘Stars & Swallows’ for a quick tattoo?
This was the way through the one way system and we stopped for a while outside the Orchard Shopping Centre where the drivers changed… We later walked through the centre to get back to the station after our final bus and it proved to be just about surviving – difficult to sustain a viable shopping centre with Bluewater just down the road.
But back to bridges, as the signs told us about the Hanau bridge, which crosses the Darent and is hard to spot from the road .
At one stage we were on Watling Street, whose name goes back to Roman times and which continues north to St Albans and points beyond London; Jo guessed correctly that that the Romans had made their way up from Dover and found a convenient crossing point here…
On the whole more a country than a town route but nevertheless one of the London bus routes to access Bluewater in its quarried out bowl. .