- Routes 42, 201 (90 minutes)
- Flickr photos from these routes are here
My long-suffering Twitter followers will be aware I’ve been in an obscenely good mood for a while now. I can’t pinpoint when it started and I have no idea why, but I’m fairly sure it’s incredibly irritating to live with. So, a day on my own on the buses seems the most sensible way to spend today.
The plan is two routes – The 42 and 201 – which are to ferry me from the gates of Moor, Bishops and Ald in The City to the Hills of Denmark, Herne and Tulse south of the river. Combined with a brooding London sky, they sound almost Tolkeinesque.
The 42 opens up in a little side street around the back of Liverpool Street station, and one train and two tube journeys after dropping Thomas at nursery, I emerge from Moorgate station ready for the 10-minute walk to the start of the route.
I begin through Finsbury Circus – much of this area is fenced off for Crossrail construction
- before Liverpool Street station brings this delightful little police call box.
Then it is a walk up Bishopsgate, an area of London where over 46,000 people work yet only 48 people live #wikifact. The street itself was the first in London to be gaslit (c.1810) and the first in Europe to have automatic traffic lights.
Today it is a curious mix of bankers, insurance business bods, travellers bound for Liverpool Street and – down the occasional side street – overflow from nearby trendy Shoreditch. The 42 is there when I arrive and quickly sidles back down whence I came on Bishopsgate before nipping through a couple of quieter streets to Aldgate. Tower Bridge follows, but my first official bus business on this world-famous landmark is hindered by the fact the 42 is a gruff little single-decker with grimy windows. Combined with the angry sky, London is no mood for niceties.
So, over the bridge we rumble – City Hall passing to my right – and into Southwark. This part of south London is equal measure
East Street arrives, at the opposite end to the market I visited when I did the 468 before turning onto Camberwell Road. There is the now-obligatory driver change at Camberwell Green and we soon pass King’s College Hospital, where my Mum recently spent one of the more worrying weeks of her life. Still, the superb NHS care gave us a chance to fully appreciate such a glorious institution before Cameron’s shameful dismantling.
Although advertised as finishing at Denmark Hill, the 42 actually ends nowhere near the station, but in a small road called Sunray Avenue. It’s as close to Herne Hill as it is to Denmark, so I walk to the former to pick up the start of the 201, which is to pick me up opposite Brockwell Park and ease me south and west to Morden.
Spots of rain begin to fall as I begin the 15-minute walk through some quiet suburban streets to Herne Hill, which features both odd-shaped trees and quaint little shops -
- but the rain holds off just enough for the 201, another single-decker, to swish into view. The first thing to be said about this particular version of the 201 is the extraordinarily comfortable seats with ample-leg room. I let out a sigh of contentment as I take my seat at the back, like a Grandfather falling asleep in his favourite armchair.
The route begins by Brockwell Park, which always seems to be under a canopy of cloud whenever I pass and the early part of the journey can be summed up by ‘blossom and prep schools’. In short, Herne Hill, home of a fellow buskateer in @peter_watts is lovely.
However, this cannot last and after circling the rather more abrasive Tulse Hill and a brief flirt with the south circular, we are on Streatham Hill. Now, I have a real problem with Streatham. I can’t really say why – I ‘m not sure it’s ever been sunny when I’ve been here – but there is something about the place I don’t get on with. Perhaps it’s the children with no faces.
There are far bleaker places in London, but perhaps because they’re so obviously bleak my expectations are met. Streatham just leaves me cold. I probably shouldn’t say this. A friend of mine has just moved to the area and I’ve yet to see his new house. I’ll have to be very polite.
The traffic is blissfully clear though and spirits remain high as Mitcham passes, complete with its attractive cricket green, although @KeithDJackson did tweet me to tell me of the time he saw a batsman run over going out to bat as the pavilion is across the road from the ground.
It’s then a short hop to Morden at the arse end of the Northern Line, where I pick up the 93 home and witness a brief postscript as fire engines and ambulances scream past and clog up a junction on Stonecot Hill to deal with an accident. We look to have arrived a couple of minutes after the incident. There is a busy junction, a learner car and a bike laying in the road. You do the math.
Here are your maps: