I started the day with a quick look around Rutland's county town. The County Museum is closed on Thursdays and it wasn't market day, but I thought the Great Hall at Oakham Castle might prove interesting, which it did - for about 15 minutes!
|Oakham Great Hall|
|Just part of the hlorseshoe display|
The main feature of the hall is a display of ornamental horseshoes (which have never seen a horse) that high-ranking visitors are required to present to the town.
The horseshoes are topped by a coronet that apparently depicts the rank of the donor. It seems that all "noblemen" are part of hierarchy that goes something like Duke - Marquess - Earl - Baron - Bishop (I may have got that wrong) and the higher the rank the more ornate the coronet!
|Uppingham School gateway|
The first bus of the day was another Centrebus Rutland Flyer, this time the RF1 which was heading
for Corby but which dropped me at Uppingham, Rutland's only other town of any size. It wasn't market day here either but I spent an interesting hour wandering up and down the main street and taking in the town's main industry - its private school!
Centrebus service 12 on to Stamford only runs a few times a day and has a stand to itself on the road that passes for Uppingham Bus Station. Confusingly, the departs from the opposite side of the road to that which one might expect a bus to Stamford to start from, so I was pleased - and surprised - to find the stop equipped with a Real Time Information display confirming that the next bus to Stamford would be in "65 minutes"! The bus followed a meandering route through another series of sleepy villages, coming close to Rutland Water at one point and circling a large military establishment on a former airfield not far from Stamford itself, without actually entering it, although at one point we came very close to the entrance, just turning away at the last minute!
|The Camp entrance - note the armed squaddie on the left.|
At North Luffenham the driver jumped a red light at the railway level crossing, but then had to stop almost immediately to pick up a passenger - no doubt he saw no point in stopping twice and the train still hadn't arrived by the time we pulled away, so no harm done.
I had another hour to spend in Stamford, a town which really ought to be in Rutland but which finds itself incongruously in Lincolnshire, which we entered just before arriving in the town centre. The town deserved more of my time, but I had to move on as I had a train to catch!
After rather too many rides on Centrebus's fleet of small, rattly buses I was pleased to see that the Delaine bus on service 201 to Peterborough was a double-decker and a very comfortable one at that.
Delaine, or "The Delaine" as its passengers and fans still call it is still a family business and celebrating its 100th anniversary as a bus operator later this year.
|View from the top deck: Crossing the River Welland. Leaving Lincolnshire but entering where?|
Almost immediately after leaving Stamford's bus station we crossed the River Welland and left Lincolnshire behind, but where we were going was a matter of conjecture!
THE SOKE OF PETERBOROUGH
The Soke is one of the curiosities of English local government. The area around Peterborough was always considered to be part of Northamptonshire, but before county boundaries came to be associated with county councils they were defined by their legal and ecclesiastical functions. The Soke of Peterborough had maintained separate legal jurisdiction from the rest of Northamptonshire since medieval times and when county councils were established in 1889 the Soke of Peterborough was granted a county council in its own right.
By the 1960's areas of the size of the Soke, and Rutland, were seen as being too small to be administered separately so in 1965 The Soke of Peterborough was merged with neighbouring Huntingdonshire to form the county of Peterborough and Huntingdon, which less than ten years later was subsumed into the administrative county of Cambridgeshire. Further re-organisation in 1998 saw Peterborough regain its independence as a Unitary Authority although the traditional title of "Soke" was not reinstated. So as the area has been considered part of Northamptonshire, Huntingdonshire and Cambridgeshire in recent times I decided to treat it as I would have found it before 1965 - an independent "Soke"!
The 201 took me past Burghley Park and through yet more very pleasant rolling countryside, although along rather wider and busier roads than I'd become used to. The bus was due at Peterborough bus station at 14.38, which gave me plenty of time to walk over to the railway station for my train home at 15.06. It was rather important that I did catch that train as although later trains were available I had an Advance ticket, so any delay would cost me a lot of money as well as getting me home very much later.
All went well until at Werrington, on the outskirts of the city we hit a massive traffic jam. For the next fifteen minutes or so we inched forward until we reached the source of the trouble - a set of roadworks at a roundabout! It was almost time to trigger the "Dick Barton Music" that usually comes in handy at times like these, but fortunately the 201 has a quick run into Peterborough with very few stops and we made it with minutes to spare!