I had an unnecessarily complicated journey from home to rejoin the route due to there being some confusion (in my mind) as to whether trains to Grays left from Liverpool Street or Fenchurch Street in London. In fact they ran from both - but I didn't realise this until I'd made an inconvenient tube and walk trip from Euston to the latter. Nevertheless I got to Grays in time to make the very convenient train to bus connection there on to the first bus of the day to Basildon.
|Basildon Bus Station|
I must confess that I hadn't been looking forward to the next couple of days bus riding and south Essex certainly lived up to its reputation, especially as the bus routes seem to follow the most boring and non-scenic routes. That wasn't true of the 374 from Grays particularly, which did include a few miles through the Fobbing Marshes en-route to Basildon, where I suspect the bus station is probably the most interesting part of the town!
|Westcliff on Sea liveried bus|
|Pie and Mash Shop, Canvey Island|
Next stop was Canvey Island. Unlike some so-called "Islands" in this part of the world, Canvey Island is an actual island even if only just, being separated from the mainland by a narrow channel of water that goes by the name of East Haven Creek. The island is formed of reclaimed land and is mostly at or below sea level and all the housing, of which there is a fair bit, is concentrated on the eastern edge. Road access is limited and traffic is therefore heavy and the bus from Basildon suffered delay, so I alighted a few stops before the terminus at Leigh Beck to put myself back on time. This gave me the benefit of a ride on a First Bus double-decker that had been repainted into the livery of a long-departed local bus operator Westcliff-on-Sea Motor Services. That, and perhaps the first Eel, Pie and Mash shop I'd seen on this trip were really the highlights of my visit.
Before leaving the Island I was able to do my good deed for the day. Two young mums, complete with babies and pushchairs were boarding the bus in front of me and obviously struggling to find the fare. Between them they were 30p short and the driver was apparently unwilling to compromise. As I was travelling for nothing with the pass I thought it was the least I could do!
The rest of the day's ride consisted of a tedious series of buses through unremittingly boring suburban areas and when I say that Hadleigh Bus Depot was the only thing of interest to be seen you'll know what I mean. Such is its reputation locally that it even has its own Wikipedia page! The only feature of interest on this part of the trip was clocking up the 3,000th kilometre in Westcliffe-on-Sea (the 1000th had been just outside Ilfracombe in Devon and the 2,000th just short of Wareham in Dorset).