What Is Watling Street?

As an old Northamptonian, fbb was familiar with Watling Street – it was the A5 that ran to the west of his home town. But what fbb had forgotten is that the famous Roman road ran through London to serve the Kent ports, notably Dover.
We will be looking at two roads that run through Dartford. Today’s A2 now by-passes the town running on to Rochester and Dover, i.e. the Watling Street. From Dartford to Gravesend we have the A226 that we have met in a previous blog.

The A226 carries Arriva services 480 and 490 running to Gravesend and on to the town’s suburbs.

Fastrack B serves just a little bit of Watling Street

The B starts fast enough with the bus only link beginning almost in the centre of Dartford …

… whence it runs in traffic free isolation to join Princes Road (see map later).

It crosses the junction diagonally and then uses quite a long stretch of bus only road (picture below, right).

Then there is a long Princes Road section with bus lanes …

… followed by a junction with the former A2 and an immediate busway into Darent Valley Hospital.

Even the road to the main hospital bus stop is bus only.

You couldn’t be closer to the main entrance!

It is VERY impressive, probably more so on this section of route B rather than on route A. The interaction with ordinary roads, traffic light controlled of course, is a bit scary for an innocent traveller without map ot guide, as was fbb all those years  ago.

After just one “normal” roundabout on departure from the hospital (a minuscule bit of former A2), your B bus beetles off brightly on its own track …
… and fast arrives at Bluewater.

But how fast is fast?

On the above map the 480/490 are coloured  BLUE; the Fastrack B is a slightly darker BLUE but “cased” i.e. with a white line down the middle. Both routes go to Bluewater – apparently.

So how do the running times compare.
Fastrack B takes 15 minutes from Dartford to  Bluewater on a typical weekday schedule.
But, despite the map above, weekday buses on 480/490 do NOT run from Bluewater to Dartford (except evenings and Sundays when it does!). fbb will look more closely at the timetables in tomorrow’s blog.
So a direct Monday to Saturday comparison is not possible, But an equivalent journey would be 14 minutes from Greenhithe A226 to Dartford.
But Fastrack’s route is longer!
A better comparison might be from Bluewater to Gravesend, a link provided by both services but via wildly different routes.
We will save that for tomorrow.
In the meantime this is what Bluewater was!

It was a huge huge (and even huger) chalk quarry. The water does look blue, and you can still see the chalkface today from bits of the carpark. 

 Next Fastrack or Slowtrack blog : Tuesday 4th July 
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