Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Day 28 Margate to Faversham

17th August 2016

Minnis Bay. Just be glad this isn't Aromavision.
I must admit to cheating a little today. Of the various bus routes west from Margate the No. 8 follows the most coastal route, but only by a couple of hundred metres or so and the roughly parallel 34 had the advantage of not requiring a change of bus at Birchington, something for which I was to be grateful for later on.

Not that I was particularly pleased when the 34 deposited me, 30 minutes after leaving Margate, at Minnis Bay. A walk along the prom was swiftly abandoned as the entire area smelt of sewage!  The locals didn't seem to notice (or mind), but I was glad that there would be another bus along in only 15 minutes.

This one took me back to Birchington, where I had a theoretical 2 minute connection onto the hourly
bus for Herne Bay. But we were five minutes late arriving, partly because of delays caused by a broken-down bus in the High Street!  There were other people waiting at the stop, so I thought I'd wait and see, but they all hopped aboard a number 8 bound for Canterbury so I gave up and, having seen all there was to see of Birchington from the bus already, settled down on a bench in the square to read the paper and marvel at the amount of road traffic passing along the A28 that runs straight through the village square.

Bus Garage in Herne Bay
The next bus to Herne Bay was nearly 15 minutes late, making me wonder if I'd given up on the earlier one too soon.  Herne Bay itself has a very ordinary main street, that wouldn't look out of place in a London suburb, although it does also have something increasingly rare these days - a bus garage in the middle of town - and one of the original East Kent Road Car Co. ones to boot. 

The seafront was rather more inviting and the resort has one of the country's surviving piers, although the central section was washed away by storms in the 1970s and the main buildings had been destroyed by fire before that. The seaward end of the pier survived the storms and fires but was left isolated out at sea.
Herne Bay Pier, with the detached seaward end in the distance
Canterbury - Herne Bay - Whitstable Triangle (geddit?)

The bus service from Herne Bay to Whitstable doesn't have a number - just a "shape"!  It's called the Triangle, derived from the shape of the route it takes in linking Canterbury, Herne Bay and Whitstable. At least it makes a change from all those "circulars"! 
As well as a fancy new marketing name the service also has hi-spec double-deckers, with luxury seating, free WiFi and phone/laptop chargers, although I was happy to just look out of the window at the view - always one of the best reasons for travelling by bus.

Commercial shipping in Whitstable

Whitstable is famous for its oysters and, indeed, there is no shortage of places to sample them although at £1 a go I decided not to bother. More surprisingly the harbour is still in everyday use by commercial shipping and is a major importer of granite and other materials for use in the town's Tarmac factory. Not something you necessarily associate with a Kentish seaside town.

My next bus was notable for being operated by Chalkwell Coaches - or rather for NOT being operated by Stagecoach, thus ending a long run of Stagecoach operation that had prevailed, with only one interruption, all the way from Portsmouth!  Stagecoach are currently well ahead in the league table of buses on which I've travelled (see the sidebar) but that is soon to change as I will be moving out of its territory after Faversham and don't expect to encounter the company's buses much before Lincolnshire.

Chalkwell's 638 normally runs through to Faversham, but the 1600 hrs departure, which only runs in school holidays, goes only to the village of Boughton. Fortunately the driver didn't need to know my destination, which was just as well as I had no idea how to pronounce it (Buff-ton?, Bow-ton? Boff-tun?). Whatever its called, the run from Whitstable is deeply rural, along single-track roads reminiscent of those used by the Herefordshire buses I worked with and I was duly deposited in the said "Boughton" to wait for my connection for the last few kilometres into Faversham whilst Chalkwell Coaches disappeared at high speed also in the direction of that town!

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