|Stagecoach London 12149 at Whipps Cross.|
I arrived at St Bartholomew's Hospital early in the morning, at around 9:30 am. I walked past the telephone box where the words "Sherlock lives" are visible, which is a reference to an event that took place in the TV series. The 56 driver opened the doors a couple of minutes before the scheduled departure time and I walked straight upstairs to the front of the bus. After a 46 overtook, 12149 set off from the stand with no one else on board. Glitspur Street is an interesting road with lots of old buildings and unusual architecture, but sadly it isn't a long road either and the 56 turns right to serve St Paul's Station. After another left turning, the 56 passes the 172 stand before using the roundabout underneath the Museum Of London. The next stop is Barbican, which hosts the Barbican Centre, a tube station for the Hammersmith & City, Circle and Metropolitan Lines and some of the only houses that are found in the square mile. The 56 continues up Goswell Road, sharing bus stops with the 4 and quickly reaches Islington after passing City University. After a lot of passengers boarded the bus got stuck behind a broken LT on the 73, therefore 12149 was forced to reverse before pulling out onto Islington Green.
The 4 turns left onto Upper Street whereas the 56 serves Essex Road instead, a road which has been invaded with many New Routemasters over the past couple of years. The 56 passes the old, dilapidated looking building of Essex Road Station (I honestly think that station is haunted) but before I could think about that any longer I was at Mildmay Park, that random destination you've probably seen on countless 38's on your travels. There was one standing there when I passed it. It was at this point that a whole family boarded and took up more two rows of seats behind me and I later found out they were visiting Lea Valley Ice Centre. Next up is Dalston Junction, which was trendy a couple of years ago but now it seems quite boring and dull. The main points of interest are the oversized bus station for route 488 and Molly Bakes, the place that does Freakshakes. Don't bother with Creams, just don't....
The 38 takes the seemingly obvious route to Clapton Pond, via Hackney Town Centre. However, the 56 is the quicker option as it ducks down Amherst Road to serve Canonbury and the communities around Downs Park Road. Within a few minutes, my bus had arrived at Clapton Pond and went round the roundabout, passing the 38 and 308 stand situated in the middle of it, however he 393 is a lone wolf and stands near the pond itself. The 56 unites with the 48 and 55 along Lea Bridge Road, a small but very busy stretch linking Hackney/Clapton-Leyton/Walthamstow, or Whipps Cross in the 56's case. Lea Valley consists of the River Lea and a huge open space. Lea Valley Ice Centre is a key point of interest on this route as many people alighted to have fun on skates. 12149 passed the construction site of Lea Bridge Station, which is now open and well-used by the communities around Leyton.
Shortly after that is Bakers Arms, where the 48 turns left to reach Walthamstow Central and the 55 turns right to serve Tesco before terminating, however the 56 goes straight onto what was unknown territory back then. This area was mostly residential, but it was still nice to be going through a new area on a route I'd used so much in the past. I was looking forward to going to Whipps Cross, as I genuinely had no idea what it would be like. After a few minutes a selection of cafe's were in sight and Emma announced that we were out Whipps Cross Roundabout, the final stop on the 56. The good thing about riding the route Eastbound is that you get to go round nearly the whole of the roundabout itself before reaching the bus stand, which it shares with the 357. In Whipps Cross, I discovered there were lots of main roads, a public toilet, a pathway leading to the Hospital and a pond.
Despite Whipps Cross not being particularly interesting, I loved my experience on the 56. It passes through such a variety of areas and the buses on it are superb. It's high frequency will make sure it's always there for you and I definitely recommend you take a ride on this route. I rate it 9/10.
As always, thanks for reading and I'd also like to give a shoutout to everyone in Russia who has been reading my blog, I've had more views from there than the UK recently!