|Stagecoach London 12358 at Crystal Palace.|
The first stop is almost outside the garage, with the station being around the corner. A bus pulled in immediately and I sunk into the comfortable lazzerini seats that I would be sitting on for the next 80 minutes. Plumstead Road was familiar territory, having passed through here on the 96. It is like a dual carriageway and the driver made the most of this by thrashing all the way until Woolwich Town Centre, where a few more passengers came upstairs, some of them miffed that the best seats on the bus were already taken.
Woolwich is quite an interesting area and it was a shame that the 122 dives out of it pretty quickly, heading straight for the South Circular Road. The Royal Artillery Barracks dominated the view to my right and it was a pretty good one. This was also where the Archery event at the 2012 Olympics was held. The brilliantly named "Ha Ha Road" brought some amusement to my journey and I was speeding past more greenery for a good few minutes. The 122 avoids Queen Elizabeth Hospital so it can reach Eltham as quickly as possible, it is a very long route anyway.
Another quirky detail is that many roads around Shooters Hill are named after Scottish places, including "Arbroath Road" and "Dunblane Road." It was at this point where the mast at Crystal Palace came into view and I thought to myself "am I really going all that way?" However, I did not get bored at all, so the long journey really didn't matter too much.
After navigating Well Hall Roundabout, the 122 briefly enters Mottingham, but it turns right at Eltham Green to head for Lewisham. This section of the route was mainly residential and I'd passed through it before on the 321, so I took this as an opportunity to review the bus itself. It was clean, the seats were comfortable, it was capable of high speeds and the engine was not faulty at all. The iBus was a bit loud, but I got used to it after a few stops.
With a 321 directly in front, the 122 didn't really stop anywhere and the journey on Lee High Road was surprisingly fast, so it came as a surprise when Emma announced "Lewisham Centre." Since it was around 11am on a Saturday, the amount of people heading to Lewisham for shopping wasn't surprising. The bus emptied out and there were only two other people upstairs at this point.
12358 sat at the bus stop for a couple of minutes, allowing numerous Catford-bound buses to overtake. However, the 122 doesn't head that way and it turned right just before Lewisham Hospital, therefore not serving it directly. This route does like to avoid hospitals. The area of Ladywell was new to me and I liked it very much. The steep Vicars Hill now makes the 484 much more attractive than it was before and the view around Adelaide Avenue was very interesting, particularly the odd location of Prendergast School.
After the detour, the 122 joins Central London routes 171/172 along Brockley Road. There happened to be a train in at Crofton Park Station, which made the view in this fairly dull area much more interesting. 12358 followed a 172 along Brockley Road until it turned left into the rather unusual stand for routes 172 and P12 at Brockley Rise. After lots of residential running, the 122 re-unites with the South Circular Road for a few stops near Forest Hill. There are two stops for Forest Hill Station, one being outside the main entrance, the other round the back. However, the locals confirmed that alighting at the first stop around the back is much quicker towards Crystal Palace, the opposite being true heading the other way.
Forest Hill isn't that big and after a few minutes 12358 was in Sydenham, sharing roads with the 176. The gradient was noticeable and it showed that the journey was coming to an end. A very sharp right turn at Sydenham Station meant the bus was heading West again, through Sydenham Hill and onto Crystal Palace Park Road. The view of the mast is amazing from here and the double decker made it really special. After eighty-something minutes, 12358 arrived at Crystal Palace Bus Station, on a lovely route through the depths of South London.
If you haven't been to South London before or you want to explore more of it, I definitely recommend the 122. It has decent buses and the routeing is very interesting and overall it scores 8/10.
I hope you enjoyed the first Random Route post on this blog, there will be more to come and watch out in case your local is reviewed!