Right from the off you could tell this was going to be a great day, as Gardner engined Ex-Cambus Olympian, F513 NJE rolled up at Derby Rail Station, to whisk us off to the Linburg depot within the city. Lingburg operate a fantastic collection of extremely well presented vehicles on their school routes, mainly comprising of Leyland Olympians, and for smaller capacity routes, the Leyland Tiger; not a low floor vehicle in sight - bliss!
Then came the chance for a vehicle batch slightly more familiar to me, this being H130 FLX, in which several examples from the batch can still be seen at work in daily service from First's Weymouth depot. A quick blast out to Brailsford on this for a photo stop reminded me very much of the batch of buses I'm missing from home, the very similar, Cummins L10 engined K-LAEs.
It was then back to the depot once again, to change over to the 'highlight' vehicle of the day, this being something the Devonians readers may well recognise! Underneath its gleaming white paint, this is Ex-Stagecoach Devon BIW 4977, which at one time operated on both the X38 until the type were found to be unsuitable and laterly X46 from Exeter to Paignton. The other claim to fame this is Hong Kong Olympian has is that this bus was part of the very first batch of buses brought over to start the now very successful, Megabus coach services. Unfortunately IIG 7842 as she is now known, seems to have lost a bit of her 'omph', appearing to have been locked out of top gear, reducing its time speed quite noticeably Nevertheless she performed admirably on the run all the way up to Sheffield, and made some very satisfying noises while doing so, and hence I have included a video to demonstrate the fact.
On arrival at Linburg's Darnell depot, we were greeted with the the real stars of the fleet, the ECW bodied Leyland Olympians - the type that everyone was really there to see! Indeed, the vehicle to follow is quite possibly the best sounding Olympian I've ever been on. Plain white OUI 8977 was originally A158 OFR, a batch that again may strike a cord with some of the Devonian readers - quite literally. Devonian in Paignton operated A146 OFR, the sister to A158 when new to Ribble. Thankfully though, our driver of A158 was brave enough to tackle her using the semi automatic gearbox, and despite only driving the more modern coaches from day to day, did a very admirable job of handling the beast! Again I have included a video so you can hear for yourself what a glorious noise this one made, no modern 'hoover' sounding noises here!
The next vehicle out was another ECW bodied Olympian, this one being C669 GET, new to Yorkshire Traction. C669 sounded somewhat more 'on her last legs' than A158 did, but the 6LXB soundtrack still didn't fail to disappoint.
To finish off it was another blast right down the motorway aboard IIG for the drop off at Derby, after a practically faultless day. The opportunity for some really high quality photography in perfect conditions was also a big bonus, with the vehicle being positioned as and where the majority wanted, so to gain the best photos possibly, despite being somewhat unrealistic! As you'll note, A158 OFR is pictured heading the wrong way, half way across a junction, fitted with a Leyland badge it doesn't actually belong to!
For anyone interested in coming along to some of the other events that Chris offers, please do visit his blog detailing all the planned visits at www.leylandolympians.blogspot.com. One I'm certainly hoping to attend in a couple of months time is an event at renowned Redfern Travel, one of an ever decreasing amount of operators who do still use Bristol VRs!