Thursday 26 September 2013
As the sun came out and the day warmed up, Mary, Linda and I stepped off our previous bus at the Princess Royal Hospital in Locksbottom, to see the R4 drawing up immediately behind. So we were able to hop on at 11.50, bound for Paul’s Cray Hill.
Coming out of the hospital grounds, we turned right and then right again, the first of many wiggles on this 40 minute journey through some of the residential areas of outer London. We passed the British Queen Pub, which was closed and shuttered, but I can’t find out when it collapsed or what is planned for it. Happily, we did pass other much healthier looking pubs.
Before long we were into Orpington, and admiring the rather fine bike racks in the High Street near the Walnut Shopping Centre. While there are a number of shuttered shops, and several charity shops, we felt that on the whole the High Street looked OK, the more surprising since there is that huge supermarket with the flats above it on the way to the station. This is not the first time we have passed the stalled building site that was to have been Churchill Retirement Homes before the council turned them down. We know that the application went to appeal 12 months ago, but clearly these things take time….
Passing the pond where the Cray begins, we were again into residential areas, including what we thought to be a most atypical block of public housing, but also lots of bungalows. Many of these properties have hardened front gardens which, given the narrowness of the road and the number of motor vehicles, is unsurprising.
But as we came down Waldenhurst Road, suddenly there was nothing but green ahead of us and we turned left and into the green belt, with actual crops growing, and we briefly felt ourselves in the country before reaching St Mary Cray, and going for another loop through residential streets
St Mary Cray Primary School looked like a real village school, though we could not help wondering where they would accommodated the children from the various large new-build projects which we passed. We also noted St Mary Cray’s large Baptist Church, HQ of both the Girls’ Brigade and the Boys’ Brigade for the area.
Now we came under the railway viaduct at St Mary Cray, and travelled alongside the River Cray for a while. The street was named ‘Mill Brook Road’, a reminder that rivers were put to use in more ways than one before they became little more than recreational facilities.
Along Main Road, we passed some new build housing going up, with impressive numbers of solar panels on their roofs.
We had not realised that Paul Cray Hill would be such a hill, but we climbed steeply up, then down, then up again, with fine views over Kent, to reach the terminating point at 12.35. We were far from anywhere, except houses, and so merely stayed on the bus as it turned back towards Orpington, giving us a further chance to enjoy the varied gardens and views of this entirely residential area.