While it doesn’t have the lure of a £10 sea crossing to Australia, the state-sponsored £2 bus plan offers the opportunity to see parts of the UK you might normally miss on the motorway or nonstop. once, speeding on an intercity train. Because it must be said that the British bus is firmly committed to Slow Travel.
This is largely because there is no such national network. Local bus systems sometimes serve one town or city without connecting to the next. Timelines are not coordinated between operators to facilitate appropriate changes. It doesn’t even have a functional website to help you plan leisure bus rides.
Instead, there are plenty of local firms, large and small, using quality websites ranging from ’90s-style bulletin boards to sleek-looking search engines, and they often just don’t do their job. Traveline pretty much works, but needs to be reloaded repeatedly on a tablet and desperately needs some backend AI to better serve people.
However, such barriers should not be a deterrent. Bus travel is all about thinking outside the box. Why else would municipalities run 100-seat double-decker vehicles on rural roads in the middle of winter?
The £2 fee cap on a single ticket, introduced on 1 January, will remain in effect until 31 March. Yes, just when the spring weather will make road trips enjoyable. But if you dare to take a wild, wintery journey through desolate lanes and wind-swept coastal roads, here’s a scenic drive from Land’s End to John o’ Groats that zig-zags through national parks, AONBs, seaside towns and revitalized cities. . All services are included in the schedule – here’s a full list – but some buses run only once or twice a day and you should definitely double-check schedules for weekend trips as they may be unnecessary or absent.
Land’s End Coaster (1) connects the famous sticky exit point to honeypots in St Ives, Zennor and Carbis Bay. This is a hop-on hop-off bus and you can only use the £2 deal for one trip. Drive from Land’s End to Penzance and then hop on T1 or T2, aka The Tinner (2), to continue to Cornwall’s county town of Truro.
There are plenty of buses going down the overly touristy south coast, but it’s more likely to cross Bodmin Moor, 89 to Bodmin (3), and use the combined 176/306 college shuttles past the Jamaica Inn to Okehampton (4). There is Poldarkian. . This is an ideal base for hiking to the summit of High Willhays, Dartmoor’s highest point. You might want to cheat here and use the recently reopened rail line to Exeter, but there are buses that offer similar journeys and trans-Dartmoor routes to Newton Abbot. If you want to get to the deepest Devon, the bus is usually best.
However, now is a good time to veer out to sea using 317 to Great Torrington (5) and then 71 to Barnstaple (6). Glide over the cliff tops on 309/310, heading up the high north end of Exmoor National Park to Lynmouth. Continue to Watchet on the Exmoor Coaster (7). Exmoor is harsh and dramatic during the colder months, and the woodlands take on an eerie quality.
28 aka Quantock Line (8) runs via Quantocks AONB to Taunton from where you can hop on 29 to Glastonbury (9). The famous Tor is calm and evocative in the off-season. Place another AONB on 376 Mendip Xplorer (10), considered one of the UK’s most beautiful bus routes, to Bristol, our first major city, once a major center of bus manufacturing.
Catch the (11) X39 (rebranded as Aquae in 2020, but the name stuck) and the (12) X76 to the affluent market town of Marlborough. Clip the south edge of the Cotswolds AONB from X5 or faster 80 to Swindon (13); Known for its GWR railroad history, there’s a certain air of arrogance to getting on and off buses – like horseback riding around Heathrow or Robin Reliant in Silverstone.
Continue to Oxford on 56 (14). If you’ve fallen in love with this roundabout fashion, stop by the Oxford Bus Museum, which collects, restores and operates vintage models before taking Stagecoach’s S3 or number 7 to Chipping Norton (15). For the talkative classes, this may refer to a particular social group, but “Chippy” is less of a box of chocolates than many Cotswold towns.
Number 50 takes you to Stratford-upon-Avon (16), one of the country’s most famous tourist destinations and also the gateway to the West Midlands. Travel via Leamington Spa to Coventry on the X18 (17) and to Birmingham with the X1 (18).
It’s impossible to see Birmingham from the highway and hard to make sense of on the train; but from a bus you can watch its versatile built environment and general chaos. Someone once said that Penny Lane was written as if it was written from the upper deck of a bus; This sweeping, mesmerizing view from above applies regardless of the city. If you have time or need a shortcut, take a stroll on Outer Circle, the Brummy equivalent of London’s yellow tube line, or on bus route 11, which runs clockwise and counterclockwise between Perry Barr and Acocks Green.
On the X8 to Wolverhampton (19), enjoy an ironic feast of industrial and post-industrial sprawl as you continue north to Stafford via Cannock Chase AONB using services 70 and 74 (20 and 21).
After the three-loop Stafford Knot, prepare for yet another explosion of traffic jams, roadworks and logistics centers as you take bus 101, known as The Knotty (22), to Hanley, the main town of polycentric Stoke-on-Trent, the symbol of this county. Visit Stoke’s website, it marks local bus routes to the main Pottery museums and working pottery factories.
From Stoke, our route heads east to more agricultural land, mainly of arable varieties; Pennine rain shade keeps everything drier, even in winter. But it takes quite a few jumps to cross England’s spine. Take Leek Link/18 to said town (23), then 109 to Macclesfield (24). Extend your breaks at two of the Peak District’s most stunning spots, descending from 58 (25) in the hot spring town of Buxton and Transpeak TP2 in the fringe Bakewell (26). 218 Peakline takes us to Sheffield (27).
Welcome to Yorkshire, a county famous for its introversion and arrogance, what can surely offer a unified timeline? No, not at all. In fact, plug in Leeds or York and you’ll get the regular bus services. To keep things local and bus-focused, go to Rotherham (28) on the X10, Barnsley on the 22X (29), Wakefield on the 59 (30) and from there on the 110 or 446 (31) on the Arriva. ) We are jumping to Leeds. ).
Yes, it was a breathtaking stretch from the South to West Yorkshire, but that’s because we were eager to get on the Coastliner 840 (32). It’s a 76-mile route connecting Leeds, York and Whitby, and it’s as beautiful as it is long. Enjoy the view of the Vale of York from Barton Hill. Take a look at Castle Howard. Ogle Pickering, Malton and North York Moors National Park. The Transdev-operated service is one of 80 North Yorkshire bus routes currently under threat as passenger numbers have not recovered from the pandemic.
Take the X4 to Middlesbrough (33), 1 to Hartlepool (34) and 23 to Sunderland (35). Very often 56 takes you to Newcastle (36). are you in a hurry? Go North East’s X10 express service runs direct from Middlesbrough to Newcastle for just two pound coin, 1 hour 40 minutes.
Take the X15 to reach Berwick (37) and cruise the beautiful Northumbrian coast. The £2 cap only applies to the UK, but there are calls – under the Scottish Labor Party leadership – for Scotland to introduce its own cap. Take Borders Buses’ 253 to Edinburgh (38). You will be asked to leave with only £2.53 for this 86-mile journey. Did you see what they did there? Make sure you never take a long-numbered bus.
Routes from Edinburgh to the Highlands via Glasgow or Perth include Citylink buses, which are more expensive but travel serious distances when passing through semi-wild, utterly wonderful places. Head west to embrace the slow theme. There is competition on the Edinburgh – Glasgow route (39), but Flixbus promises £1.99 for singles; an extra 99p and you can travel “no neighbors”.
Glasgow to Fort William (40) £28.10 on 914/5/6 and Fort William to Inverness (41) £11.60 on 919/920. £17.50 direct flight from Edinburgh to Inverness via Pilochry, Dalwhinnie and Aviemore with the Citlink M90. There are some local buses to the Highlands, but they usually go to dead ends next to the bays and mountains. If what you’re after is rocking the wedge, throwing drama, stalling, check out the Visit Scotland list.
Catch Stagecoach’s epic X99 for a high five (43) from Inverness to Scrabster (42) at Thurso Bay (£23) and 80 to John o’ Groats. Both tariffs and others are shown here.
Congratulations. Or if the above has inspired you: enjoy! If you set off now, you can make it to Burns Night. The cost of the above would be around £90 for the English section and £50 for the Scottish legs if you take each bus and sleep on benches. Not bad and cheaper than taking the train from Penzance to Thurso, for which the “Cheapest Fare” came to £276.10 for me – and you’ll still need a bus at either end to complete the journey.