Thursday 10 October 2013
This is another of Orpington’s sort-of circular routes, though in fact it is more of a straight line with a couple of loops than an ‘O’ shape. We knew we wanted to ride it to the Ramsden Estate and back, finishing at Orpington Station, with its frequent services into London. We thought we should be going once-and-a-bit along the route, and so started with the less familiar area.
It was cold, winter clearly arriving, but we did not have to wait long; indeed, compared to some of the R routes, it was amazingly frequent, hence our decision to pick our initial direction, rather than leaping on any bus that came. It was a pleasant contrast to the R7 and R8…
Heading away from the stop at the Walnuts Centre at 11.20, we embarked on a brief tour of the residential areas of Orpington.
We also passed Philip Harris House. This is the HQ of Harris Ventures, the empire of Lord Harris the Carpetright man. He it is who sponsors all those academies and free schools which bear his name. I mention this only because the world (well, the small part of it interested in education policy, anyway) was reeling from the surprise that a 27 year old with no experience in teaching, had found it too difficult to be the Head Teacher of a school in Pimlico, and had resigned after four weeks on the job. When I was a teacher, the notice period was three months, but I expect Free Schools are 'free' of such restrictions.
Once we were into the residential streets, we noted the many hardened from gardens, but also some very colourful dahlias, and quite a lot of pampas grass. We also felt that we were in Camelot, with street names like Avalon and Tintagel. We paused for a while, and only when the in-bus signage changed did we realise we were at the far end of our route and were heading back towards Orpington. We passed the Frank Bruno Academy and came into the heart of the Ramsden Estate, which has a wide variety of public and formerly public housing.
To our surprise, we swept past the War Memorial without turning up towards the station, and went down the High Street and then right to get back to the Walnuts Centre. Only then did we head along Gravel Pit Lane and back to the War Memorial again. Now we were able to turn up Tubbenden Lane and reach the station, at 12.05.
This was one of the shorter journeys we had undertaken; the trip around some more of the extensive residential suburbs of Orpington helped us to understand why its station has such remarkable capacity and frequent trains.