Greetings! As we are about embark on another running day, it seems a good time to look back over the winter just gone, at some of the smaller exercises we've had the pleasure of.
After a fairly lengthy break to recover from our first running day attempt, we organised our first winter event for the weekend before Christmas. Branded as "Catching the Last Christmas Post", it saw a small group of us recreating the former Post Bus routes that operated out of Chippenham a few decades ago.
With a bitterly cold and somewhat misty morning, we left Chippenham to the North and after a brief break at Hullavington we were onwards through Leigh Delamere and Grittleton. It was at that point that we came across a running event and stewards who were all rather confused as to why there was a bus coming through on a Sunday morning! From Grittleton we made it out to Sherston and Sopworth, where a few families out walking were witness to Oscar's reversing abilities.
From there we made our way to Marshfield for use of the public conveniences and then onwards, via a diversion, to Colerne. That diversion meant we missed revisiting one of our Back to School destinations, Pinewood. At this point we were on the home leg via Biddestone and a photo opportunity at The Butts.
Our route into Chippenham involved travelling via Sheldon Corner where a permanent road closure meant a diversion via Allington Bar, Drake Crescent and Derriads which took us to Sheldon Road and a clear run back to Chippenham Railway Station.
We had intended for the next event to be the 28th December but sadly that one succumbed to Covid. As such our next event came in Mid January 2022. This was an opportunity to use Faresaver's most recent acquisition, in the form of a 64 plate Solo SR. It proved to be an apt performer and proved considerably warmer than the bus used for Catching the Last Christmas Post.
As well as using a bus many hadn't traveled on before, we took the opportunity to recreate the several bus routes, all either lost or soon to be lost. We started with a 635 from Chippenham to Bristol, where we terminated by the Bristol Beacon and more pertinently, Greggs!
After sourcing breakfast we gained a few more traveling companions and traced the soon to be lost 37 from Bristol to Bath via Kelston, a route which has since ceased.
Lunch in Bath was followed by the X86 out to Broughton Gifford, a historic Faresaver school service. It was a lovely run with plenty of good photo opportunities.
From Broughton Gifford we made our way to Notton for a quick jaunt on the 11 and 10 to take us back to our starting point in Chippenham.
The final event of the Winter was the event we'd hoped to recreate on the 28th December. From 2009 to 2013, there was a rail replacement service from Ealing Broadway to Wandsworth Road via Kensington Olympia, which ran only one round trip and only on Tuesdays.
When we eventually came to recreate it, it was actually a Sunday afternoon rather than a Tuesday morning but we did have the company of a few people who'd travelled on the original service. We were very lucky to have use of a Metroline VMH out of PA depot, a depot soon to shut at time of writing.
A small group of us were expertly piloted through London traffic by Tommy Cooling via the Westway to Kensington Olympia then over the Thames to Wandsworth Road. Having picked up one person at Olympia, a few made their farewells at Wandsworth Road. Meanwhile the bus turned round via Vauxhall Bus Station with a few of us on board, while others took the opportunity to grab a McDonalds!
After a break, back at Wandsworth Road station, we made our way back towards Ealing Broadway, largely retracing our outward route. We arrived back into Ealing Broadway almost exactly on time and after a photo opportunity we made our farewells.
A huge thanks to Faresaver and Metroline for providing vehicles to help these events take place. Its kept us going over the winter, in preparedness for what will hopefully be a busy year of events by An Exercise in Oddity!