Day trips by bus

By | Category: Travel tips & opinions
477 to Holy island

477 to Holy island

I don’t catch buses a lot. It has a lot to do with I have never been patient enough to look out of the window and enjoy what I could see; I’d rather do something. It may have something to do with the fact that I have the mistaken belief that buses are just to get me to the city centre and back.

So I was a little surprised to be rung and told about Catch the Bus Week 2014, a campaign by Greener Journeys to promote sustainable travel, which runs from the 28April to 4 May.  I had never really thought of buses as part of enjoying a day out, merely a way to get from A to B. Yet here was a promotion I had never heard of before that involves not just publicising bus travel but it is allied with events, ticket giveaways and other activities are taking place across the UK with hundreds of bus companies, local authorities and passenger groups participating.

Forget the obvious green credentials of the campaign for a moment and consider the merits of a bus. As a child, I always had to sit on the top deck of the Portsmouth Corporation trolley buses so that I could see the beach at Southsea before others. I used to be regularly taken to Abergavenny market, sharing a box of chickens on my lap with my Nan that she had bought there. I liked Western Welsh buses because their radiator grills seemed to smile but, on Red and White buses, they scowled.

So my views are outdated and I see buses with nostalgia and little else. In Swansea though, one bus service has drivers who have been trained in the tourist attractions and landmarks so, if asked, they can point out the sights. Our village bus service is driven by Ian who trundles though five or six times a day; knows his regulars and, seemingly, everyone else. He waits for those who are running a little late and deposits some right outside their doors who aren’t as agile as they were once were. It is all very friendly and works perfectly amiably.

city tours by bus are in most major cities

city tours by bus are in most major cities

On London buses, it has been appreciated by visitors for years that that is the cheapest and best way to see some of the sights. In some at explains the success of city bus tours right across the world; you can see a lot in a short space of time. A few years ago, you might remember, two old age pensioners took advantage of their bus passes, spent their holiday travelling around Wales just travelling on local services and thoroughly enjoying themselves.

But what routes does the campaign suggest? Here is their list – and their comments – for you to mull over.

1 The 916 from Glasgow to Uig, Isle of Skye is the longest bus route in Britain and it offers users the chance to take in the breath-taking scenery of the Highlands along the way. Operated by Scottish CityLink, the bus leaves Glasgow at 10am every morning and those with National Entitlement Cards go free.

2 The weekly Dalesbus from Lancaster to Richmond in North Yorkshire travels through the “backbone of England”, otherwise known as the Pennines mountain range, crossing the magnificent Buttertubs Pass in the Yorkshire Dales along the way. This route will run from 20 April to 19 October, Sundays only, however an extra route will be put on each Bank Holiday Monday during this period.

3 If you are looking for one of the most beautiful and the unusual British routes look no further than number X53 from Poole to Exeter, a roller coaster ride along Dorset’s Jurassic coast. The route, run by the operator First Group, takes over four hours but my recommendation is to sit back, relax and enjoy the spectacular views.

4 The 113, operated by Tavistock Country Bus Service runs from west to east across wild Dartmoor, linking the market town of Tavistock with Dawlish on the Devon coast. It is the only scheduled bus service to serve the celebrated beauty spot at Dartmeet and the sole direct bus between the moorland communities of Princetown and Ashburton. It is a rare breed however, running only on the fifth Saturday of each month and not during the winter months. The Tavistock Country Bus Service is a community initiative, a reminder of the importance of buses for social cohesion and community engagement.

5 Described as the ‘ultimate green travel experience’, the Honister Rambler service is operated in the Lake District by Stagecoach. The journey travels around the beautiful north-west Lakes, along the user to sit back and unwind. Locals say that the route is best followed anticlockwise, starting with a gentle ascent from Keswick though Whinlatter Forest, with Buttermere being a great place to stop for lunch. The bus then returns to Keswick via Honister Pass, a road that was surely never built for buses. The service runs daily from early April to late October.

6 Wales boasts a range of beautiful coastal journeys, among them the number 5 from Llandudno to Caernarfon, operated by Arriva Cymru. However, if you are looking for a seaside excursion, look no further than the journey along the coast from Cardigan to Aberystwyth. Mid-Wales boasts a range of small independent bus operators, and this route is run by the Richard Brothers, which has been a family business for three generations.

7 Travellers on the 477 to Holy Island will find no ferry. The route is operated by Perrymans and runs from Berwick-upon-Tweed to the island off the coast of Northumberland. However, the causeway to Holy Island is closed at high tide so the route has one of the most fabulously complicated timetables of any bus service in Britain. However, if you manage to find a time that works for you, it is one of the most rewarding bus journeys in Britain.

8 There is no better way to experience the Exmoor coast then on the open-top 300 from Lynton to Minehead. The route is operated by Quantock Motor Services, a small Somerset-based independent operator which boasts a fleet of heritage buses.

9 If you are looking for a city route the Outer Circle route in Birmingham could be the ticket. Operated by National Express offers the user the best of Britain’s urban landscape through 266 bus stops and 43 km of a mainly circular route, taking around 2-3 hours to complete. It is Europe’s second longest urban bus route, after Coventry route 360 and first came into existence as two routes in 1923. The service runs every 8 minutes on a weekday, with lower frequencies in the evenings and at the weekend.

London's iconic red double-deckers are a symbol of the UK throughout the world

London’s iconic red double-deckers are a symbol of the UK throughout the world

10 London’s red double-deck buses have become one of the most iconic images of the capital and some of London buses routes have barely changed in over a century. It is that sense of history which nudges the number 11 into any table of great British bus journeys. It has run from Fulham through the West End to the City since 1906 and while modernisation has caused some changes.

Of the eleven routes that they suggest, (there are two in Wales) I thought I would give one a try-out. I chose the X50 service from Cardigan to Aberystwyth which follows the Cardigan Bay coastline. Next week, I’ll let you know what it was like.

In the meantime, what bus routes do readers suggest are worth tourists travelling so they can enjoy our countries?



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