Wednesday, 29 April 2009

What went wrong?

A compendium of mishaps...

Carlisle-gate (Day 3)

The wrong bus stop

I stood at the wrong bus stop.

  • Bus from Dumfries the previous night did not call at bus station
  • Sub-standard reconnaissance failed to locate existence of bus station
  • General lack of on-street signage pointing to bus station
  • Crib sheet specifically mentioned bus station but failed to mention omission of stop on The Crescent
  • Failure to check crib sheet properly
  • Lack of "where to catch your bus" posters at city centre bus stops
  • Timetable at The Crescent bus stop made no mention of college day variation

Solution: caught my reserve journey direct to Keswick (avoiding Penrith) and arrived in time to make planned onward connections.

Worksop-gate (Day 4)

Worksop bus station

I got on the bus going in the wrong direction.

  • Spent an additional 30 minutes in Chesterfield, reducing connection time
  • Travel office undergoing renovation, temporarily replaced by portakabin in bus depot entrance
  • Travel portakabin closed for lunch, so no access to timetables
  • Worksop bus station extremely cramped and busy, resulting in lack of access to at-stop timetable
  • Crib sheet failed to note that service ran in two directions
  • Day ticket resulted in lack of destination verification from driver
  • Correct stop for Retford around the corner from the main bus stops

Solution: caught my reserve journies onwards to Retford, Gainsborough, Lincoln and Grantham. Arrived in Grantham half an hour later than planned.

Grantham-gate (Day 4)

Great Northern Hotel

The B&B thought that I was due to arrive the day after.

  • I organised accomodation via email
  • The mistake was at their end and not mine
  • Nearby Belton Horse Trials causing most Grantham hotels to be fully booked.

Solution: caught the next available East Midlands Trains service to Peterborough to try my hand there – a journey not scheduled until the following morning. Booked into Great Northern Hotel opposite station. Was able to have a lie-in the following morning.

Alton-gate (Day 6)

Sweet Fanny Adams

I missed a connection by the smallest of fractions.

  • Decided to spend an extra hour in bed in Andover, meaning a six minute connection in Alton rather than 2 hours
  • Bus from Basingstoke to Alton ran at least five minutes late
  • Failure to research Alton town centre bus stops in advance
  • Crib sheet referred to changing at railway station, not town centre
  • Lack of confidence over where bus to Petersfield would stop in town centre
  • Continuing on to railway station rather than alighting in the town centre
  • Term time diversion via college lengthened journey
  • Failure to attract attention of the driver to Petersfield before he drove off

Solution: hung around in Alton for 2 hours. Ran an hour later than scheduled for the remainder of the day + RTA delay.

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Number crunching

Bolton Bus Station

I caught 30 buses and 2 trains on my six day trip from Thurso to Brighton, over a journey of roughly 1068 miles. In addition to that, I caught a further 3 trains, 2 planes, 1 bus and 1 National Express coach getting to and from the start and finish points.

(Edit: I also caught another bus in Worksop. It was a double-decker. I thought it was heading to Retford, but instead it was operating in the opposite direction and ended up back in Worksop again. I didn't catch any further details, as I was in rather a fluster. I have thus excluded it from my figures!)

Here's a table summing up the different types of buses and coaches I caught on my trip:

xDouble deck busSingle deck busSingle deck coachLow floorWheel chair liftStep entranceTotal

I wouldn't normally make detailed notes – but given that it was a special occasion, here's a list of vehicles I travelled on over the six days, with links to pictures available on the internet:

Sunday: 53104; 53269; 22356

Monday: 18351; 53291; 53251; 20509; 54502; 20944

Tuesday: 14232; 18360; 22816; 18140; 22186

Wednesday: 19463; (158882); 22612; 16462; 34003; 33203; 22417; 19076; (158864)

Thursday: 18407; 53613; 22621; 16504

Friday: 20615; 33037; 16643; 16745; 18517

Monday, 27 April 2009

In retrospect

First bus in Thurso

I am back home from my trip after a weekend relaxing (and gently roasting) in Brighton. It has been an amazing challenge, and I've seen some wonderful places and talked to some interesting people along the way. The trip has highlighted the vast differences in culture and landscape on this island of ours, but also many things that tie us together. I've been particularly fascinated by the way accents change from place to place, as well as looking at how towns and villages have developed – some more successfully than others. Another interesting concept is how we try and cash in on history, plus how the UK's high streets are performing in the current economic climate.

On the social media front, it's been quite a steep learning curve. I didn't set off with the most modern equipment available, but hopefully this will prove that you don't need an iPhone to go off exploring and reporting back in real-time. I'd like to thank Lucy at Virgin Media: although she couldn't offer me anything in the way of mobile internet, she was able to lend me a spare Nokia 3120 Classic which came in very useful when the battery of my own 6300 started suffering under the intensive usage that it is isn't normally subject it to. I still don't quite understand how live video-streaming works (RTFM!) but thanks to Qik for not shouting at me. Inspiration for the trip probably came from #smc_mcr and I'd like to especially thank Martin and Josh for their encouragement.

On the transport side of things, the majority of mishaps along the way were caused by my own assumptions and misjudgements as opposed to being problems with the system. All the journeys I was at the correct bus stop for operated. Most were on time, with only two services ten minutes late, a couple more five minutes late. The biggest delay was on the very last leg and was caused by a road traffic accident: we arrived in Brighton 24 minutes late, which is rather outside the control of the bus company. Comparing route branding and publicity along the way threw up some interesting differences over what might appear at first sight to be the epitome of a corporate culture.

This was always going to be an independent adventure, but I would like to thank a few people at Stagecoach for their offers of assistance and general help with queries. A big thank you especially to Phill at Chesterfield and Ray(?) at Lincoln for sending me free day tickets: I shall be donating the equivalent amount to Christie's appeal on their behalf. Also my thanks go out to Nigel and Linda based way out West, and also to June at Peterborough. I did also correspond with a very helpful man from the West Scotland division, but unfortunately have misplaced his email.

Finally, I'd like to thank everyone who has been following my adventures on Twitter or on this blog. This includes family, friends and colleagues, especially Anthony for lending me his camera and Mark at Kaonix who responded to the challenge with his usual vigour! I've raised over £300 for The Christie hospital in Manchester – if you'd like to help raise this total further then you can still make a donation online at Justgiving. Thank you to you all.

What next?

There'll still be a few items to come here: I'll be explaining in more detail what went wrong and why; there'll be an award ceremony covering various categories; plus I have a lot of photos to sift through, the best of which I'll share with you online.

Last bus in Brighton

Day 6 – Twitter Digest


The final day sees a rather leisurely jaunt through the South Downs and then the long CoastLiner service from Havant to Brighton, our final destination.

  • Bed too big and too comfy. Decide to spend another hour here, take breakfast and catch a later bus rather than spend 2 hours in Alton. 6:14 AM
  • Riskier connections though... 6:15 AM
  • - The "Good Morning" viking bids you good morning. 8:46 AM
  • Fridays during college term, a duplicate bus is run on the 0900 to Basingstoke. Large youthful queue here :) 8:53 AM
  • - Don't miss the last bus home! 9:03 AM
  • So I only have to spend 6 mins in Alton with my revised plan, instead of 2 hours, but I do have to spend 40 mins in Basingstoke instead. 9:05 AM
  • Last day of challenge, and my thoughts are increasingly towards the end rather than the means. It has been quite a journey so far! 9:08 AM
  • Just passed Twinings offices. Hope they aren't holding @stephenfry hostage still. 9:14 AM
  • The relief bus has overtaken us. We're comfortably full but it only has two people on it. Presumably it fills up from Whitchurch onwards. 9:29 AM
  • - The hand bag shop: essential village service. 9:34 AM
  • - Artwork in Basingstoke travel shop. 10:11 AM
  • - Make your own milkshake at ShakeAway 10:22 AM
  • My choice: Terry's Chocolate Orange and Raspberries 10:26 AM
  • On the bus. The irregular 28 to Alton. 5 mins late. 6 min connection. Will I end up spending 2 hours in Alton anyhow? 10:58 AM
  • This bus looks like it may have had a past life. There's the remains of an aircon, and a multitude of hanging straps. Hong Kong perhaps? 11:03 AM
  • It used to have two doors as well. It wouldn't need them for the load it is currently carrying. 11:13 AM
  • Ah pants. It was within my grasp and I failed at the last. 11:47 AM
  • If I'd got off in the town centre instead of staying on until the rail station, I'd be on the 72 now. But which stop? So I didn't. 12:00 AM
  • The 72 pulled out as the 28 arrived. But I think maybe this is good, stretch my legs for a bit. 12:02 AM
  • - Alton station cafe 12:07 AM
  • Things to do in Alton #1 - steam trains. Note: no weekday service out of season. 12:10 AM
  • - A Stagecoach train with South West Trains 12:16 AM
  • - No services today 12:30 AM
  • Things to do in Alton #2 - sweet Fanny Adams. No, seriously, she is buried in the cemetery here. 12:36 AM
  • - Sweet Fanny Adams 12:48 AM
  • The rivers in this past of the world are shallow, crystal clear, and with clumps of greendry poking out of the top. Beautiful. 12:55 AM
  • t3h n3xt bu5 is @ 1337 1:03 PM
  • Whilst some towns are havens for senior citizens, Alton is full of sixth formers at the local college. 1:10 PM
  • Made it. Arrive Petersfield 1416, depart service 37 to Havant at 1426. 1:41 PM
  • The name of the pub in Liss is "Whistle Stop" - ha ha. 2:04 PM
  • Level crossings, eh? Awaiting next bus at Petersfield station. 2:24 PM
  • She has arrived. Buses use the feminine, in similar fashion to other great travelling hulks of metal. 2:30 PM
  • The South Downs don't look con that brilliant when viewed from the A3. 2:38 PM
  • We leave the A3 and all is tranquil again. 2:40 PM
  • A bit of excitement - a bus in front has broken down. Passengers transfer onto ours. 2:43 PM
  • A woman who has just got on in Waterlooville was waiting for the bus which broke down. She appears happy gossiping about the fact to every1. 3:15 PM
  • Now in Havant. 3:52 PM
  • Would you believe it? I am on my final leg of the trip - scheduled to arrive in Brighton at 1915. 4:09 PM
  • Though it is advertised as a through service, a disclaimer in the tt warns that vehicles may be swapped in Chichester and Worthing. 4:11 PM
  • What is the CCA Art Bus? Just passed it in Emsworth. 4:18 PM
  • Just seen the sea! That makes all four coasts - North (Thurso), East (Stonehaven), West (Hest Bank) and South (Chichester Harbour). 4:33 PM
  • - Chichester Cathedral 4:45 PM
  • Bognor Regis is the next town en route. Hopefully get a closer look at the sea... 5:05 PM
  • Hmm. Not too many flashes of sea on show. May have to wait until gone Worthing for the unadulterated viewing. 5:22 PM
  • The Body Shop HQ in Littlehampton appears to be in the shape of a pagoda. Not quite sure what this achieves. 5:54 PM
  • A bus driver in the opposite direction warned us of a crash on the dual carriageway. We're in the queue now. 6:11 PM
  • - Not going anywhere for a while :( 6:19 PM
  • Past the scene now. Looked nasty: bike and a car, windscreen of the latter badly messed up. 6:36 PM
  • Probably around 25 mins late. Can we make up any time? 6:37 PM
  • - Pie champion - well done. 6:43 PM
  • - The sea at last - Worthing Pier 6:56 PM
  • 21 mins late leaving Worthing. 6:58 PM
  • The route is finally doing justice to its "CoastLiner" moniker: views out over the bay. 7:06 PM
  • - The back of the bus I have just got off. 7:39 PM
  • Yes, I have finally arrived in Brighton after 6 days bus travel across the length of the country. 7:42 PM
  • I'm quite three, so I hope you'll accept a debrief at a later point, but thanks to everyone who has been following my adventure. 7:45 PM
  • - Brighton welcomes me. 7:48 PM

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Day 6 – Preview

Britain by Bus Day 6: Andover to Brighton

The final day. Over the South Downs and along the south coast.

Day 6 Schedule

Service 76
0715 departs Andover, Bus Station
0824 arrives Basingstoke, Bus Station

Service 28
0850 departs Basingstoke, Bus Station
0944 arrives Alton, Railway Station

Service 72
1145 departs Alton, Railway Station
1244 arrives Petersfield, Railway Station

Service 37
1326 departs Petersfield, Railway Station
1441 arrives Havant, Bus Station

Service 700
1508 departs Havant, Bus Station
1825 arrives Brighton, Pool Valley

Day 6 Mileage

114 miles

Day 5 – Twitter Digest


Day 5's journey from east to west, Peterborough to Swindon, and then south to Andover.

  • So with last night's change of accommodation, my first bus today isn't until gone 9pm. Having a bit of a lie in and a bath. 7:21 AM
  • Where 9pm is equal to 9am. 7:21 AM
  • Music to accompany breakfast: Just A Fool To Believe on panpipes. 8:25 AM
  • Total Eclipse Of The Heart on panpipes. 8:28 AM
  • - Peterborough bus station - X4 at ten past nine. 8:59 AM
  • - We're heading cross-country. 9:18 AM
  • Question: can you buy the version of the Dayrider Gold ticket that is valid on the X5 on the X4? Answer: yes we can. 9:20 AM
  • A bit of an overcast day so far. Maybe the run will burn off some of the clouds later on. 9:30 AM
  • So last night, after getting the wrong bus and being generally late, I arrive at the B+B to find no-one answering the door. 9:33 AM
  • Both of my mobiles are low on juice, but I manage to contact the owners eventually. They are fully booked and think I am due 2mrw. 9:35 AM
  • With my phones about to expire, I am left to find somewhere else to sleep. B+B opposite looks to have vacancies but no one in. 9:37 AM
  • The hotel in town is fully booked because of horse trials in nearby Belton. The Best Western is full too. 9:40 AM
  • Chap at the BW finds there are rooms at the Ramada, but I'm on foot and it's out in the sticks. I set out, past the station. 9:42 AM
  • I decide to see when the next East Midlands Train to P'bro is - 30 mins. 9:43 AM
  • "Sack this: I'm going to P'bro to try my luck at the Great Northern opp the stn." So I do. I am in luck. 9:45 AM
  • And that is the tale of woe from last night. At least I had a later start this morning and no dodgy connection this morning. 9:48 AM
  • "Sack this: I'm going to P'bro to try my luck at the Great Northern opp the stn." So I do. I am in luck. 9:49 AM
  • - Make or break: pensive on the way to Peterborough 9:54 AM
  • A happy bus full of villagers heading into Corby for shopping. 9:56 AM
  • Home of the trouser press. 9:58 AM
  • - New rail station at Corby 10:07 AM
  • New driver in Kettering. Greets the lower deck with a hearty "Morning". Wearing a red rose. Happy St George's Day. 10:38 AM
  • I've been following bad clip art lady who seems to appear on the back of all the local buses. 11:04 AM
  • She's carrying a bag of groceries and has a look on her face that is a combination of surprise, shame and secret gratification. 11:08 AM
  • - Northampton's gloomy undercover bus station 11:38 AM
  • - The bus is often overtaken. Here it overtakes. 11:58 AM
  • - Milton Keynes 12:34 AM
  • I come from a New Town, and I've been downtown in the US. None of that prepared me for Milton Keynes though. 12:40 AM
  • This place feels totally alien after having traversed several hundred miles of "organic" town planning. 12:42 AM
  • I'm on the bus again -X5 to Oxford. Leather seats. Plush. Gonna try out the wi fi. 1:46 PM
  • Plug socket? Check. Wi-fi access? Check. We have lift off. Brilliant! 1:54 PM
  • - Recursion. 2:05 PM
  • Yesterday's delayed Twitter digest: 2:18 PM
  • So using wi fi on the move was fun. Possibly not enough legroom for putting on lap, but is reasonable enough on adjoining seat. 2:44 PM
  • On the outskirts of Oxford now. Never been here before. Never really wanted to: my heart lies with Cambridge ;) 2:46 PM
  • - Another bad clipart lady. 3:01 PM
  • - Lots of bikes. Everywhere. 3:18 PM
  • Guess who's on a bus again? That's right, me. 66 to Swindon. Photos may not be forthcoming - the windows are slightly murky. 3:48 PM
  • This route's been a little disappointing so far, sticking to the main A420 and not taking any amusing diversions down unsuitable roads. 4:06 PM
  • Finally. Taking a trip into the heart of Kingston Bagpuize. 4:09 PM
  • We avoided Hinton Waldrist though. Boo. 4:15 PM
  • - Which bus stop does it go from? 4:27 PM
  • Have I ever seen a branch of Budgens before? Well, I have now anyway. 4:30 PM
  • - Top secret MOD training facility. 4:45 PM
  • "...and when I think of Swindon I think of sun, and I'm finally going to Swindon" #songinmyhead 4:50 PM
  • Major excitement - just traversed the Magic Roundabout - 5 mini roundabouts making up one big one. 5:00 PM
  • - Swindon rush hour. 5:11 PM
  • Last bus of the day already. 1715 to Marlborough, service 70, which runs through to Andover as service 80. 5:18 PM
  • Heading for Lawne and Coate. 5:31 PM
  • Wowzers! Bus of the day here. Small, winding roads, thatched cottages, some brilliant place names ahead. 5:51 PM
  • Draycot Foliat. Check. 5:52 PM
  • Ogbourne St George. Check. 5:54 PM
  • Ogbournes St Andrew and Maizey. Check. 5:58 PM
  • - Marlborough 6:04 PM
  • Lot of teenagers upstairs for the route on to Andover. 6:05 PM
  • One of the girls has a piercing tone of voice that suggests she may have a pony. 6:12 PM
  • Collingbourne Kingston and Collingsbourne Ducie. 6:26 PM
  • Arriving in Andover now. Apparently the town is situated in the Test Valley. 6:43 PM
  • Anybody out there who lives in Andover? Am in the John Russell Fox making use of the wifi. Fancy a pint? :) 8:21 PM

Day 4 – Twitter Digest


A little late, but in order to make up for that, this post has been collated and posted whilst on a coach!

  • Good morning. Day 4 and I have just left home. With sunglasses this time. 7:04 AM
  • I am walking up Burnage Lane to catch the 42 to Stockport. Later on in the day I'll be catching a 43 and another 42. 7:06 AM
  • My itinerary for today is on my blog. 7:07 AM
  • On the bus on the short trip into Stockport. 7:27 AM
  • 7:34 AM
  • My brown tinted shades make it look much warmer than it actually is. Heh. 7:49 AM
  • - Bus service # 158... 7:58 AM
  • As predicted, I have to stand. For the want of two extra carriages. Absolute rubbish. 8:00 AM
  • Lord Adonis should have been made to spend his holiday riding back and forth between Liverpool and Sheffield #uktrain 8:02 AM
  • - At least this is a refurbished train I suppose. 8:11 AM
  • #songinmyhead in honour of Sheffield: Walk Like A Panther by All Seeing I; I Love My Life by Pulp 8:32 AM
  • - Bacon and egg sandwich al fresco. 9:17 AM
  • - Super tram! 9:24 AM
  • Am happy to report I am now #onthebus for the remainder of the day. Arrive Grantham 1855 :) 9:38 AM
  • Bit of a problem: camera battery recharge #fail last night. Will source some replacements later. 9:46 AM
  • - Single decker, new in 2008. 9:59 AM
  • So ends my brief sojourn to Yorkshire. In Derbyshire now: Dronfield to be exact. 10:02 AM
  • Local dialect update: thanks duck. 10:24 AM
  • - The famous crooked spire of Chesterfield 11:02 AM
  • The weather is so lovely here that I skipped a bus and will catch the 1118 to Worksop. 11:16 AM
  • I'm #onthebus arrive Worksop 1232. Standard 90s double decker. 11:23 AM
  • Sitting on the top deck front offside seat on an eastbound bus at noon on a sunny day in the northern hemisphere is a bad idea. 11:37 AM
  • Beware the Beast of Bolsover, for I am there. Old Nottinghamshire mining area. 11:49 AM
  • - Lovely roundabout in Barlborough 11:58 AM
  • Just seen: Dolphin Fish Bar, near Clowne Campus. Shurely Dolphin Mammal Bar? 12:00 AM
  • More food establishments in Creswell: Yummy Yummy, Crusty Pantry, Dolphin's Pizza & Grill 12:13 AM
  • Apologies to Dennis Skinner: Bolsover is of course in Derbyshire still. 12:14 AM
  • - Sherwood Forest? 12:29 AM
  • Roadworks outside Worksop. Been stood for about 5 mins. BT down a manhole. Moving again. 12:33 AM
  • Students of Robin Hood folklore will know that Worksop is home to Gladys and Snooker. 12:41 AM
  • I've not seen a lot of Worksop but need to catch the next bus. There's a river and a canal and Castle Hill. Oh well, next time? 12:55 AM
  • Lots of people #onthebus but no talk about #budget. Perhaps shows how far many people are removed from politics? 1:27 PM
  • My second route 42 in a day. Only a short 25 min punt to Retford, but left 10 down by my reckoning. 1:29 PM
  • We live in instant times, but you can't beat a bit of a think and a digest. So look forward to my smash hit Britain By Bus book... ;) 1:37 PM
  • Oh dear. I have made another boo boo. I got on the bus in the wrong direction and am back in Worksop. 1:48 PM
  • Two other people at this other bus stop nearly made the same mistake I did. Cos I have a day ticket, the driver didn't spot my error. 1:57 PM
  • So the mop up begins. I am really #onthebus to Retford this time. Arrive 1430. 2:07 PM
  • I'm unlikely to catch my original connection on the 96 which leaves at the same time as this bus arrives. 2:09 PM
  • The next bus is 1555 to Gainsborough arrive 1655. 2:10 PM
  • So catch the 1710 to Lincoln and the 1805 to Grantham arrive 1925. 2:13 PM
  • The next bus is 1555 to Gainsborough arrive 1655. 2:13 PM
  • - The Retford bus. 2:16 PM
  • Looks like I'm going to be spending 90 mins in Retford. Ah well - it's a beautiful day and the town looks pretty enough. 2:33 PM
  • Music in Retford bus station: Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now 2:38 PM
  • - Nice clean bus station in Retford 2:41 PM
  • - Something to pass the time 2:55 PM
  • - The Mattersey Boat 3:01 PM
  • - Thomas has six wheels you know. 3:04 PM
  • Retford really does look like a lovely little town. 3:18 PM
  • - 3:21 PM
  • The market square reminds me a bit of Newark, where I've visited before. 3:30 PM
  • Back at the bus station. Music playing: Take These Broken Wings (And Learn To Fly Again Etc) 3:45 PM
  • She's Got Betty Davies' Eyes 3:56 PM
  • I am #onthebus again. This journey is essentially for school kids in Retford returning home to villages by the Trent. 4:07 PM
  • Good grief, I feel like an intruder on this bus where everyone knows everyone else! 4:30 PM
  • There's been a water bomb explode on the bomber rather than the bombee. 4:33 PM
  • - View from the top of the plateau 4:42 PM
  • Despite the youthful exuberance, this really is a pretty route through small villages of red brick cottages. 4:44 PM
  • - 4:54 PM
  • Will I make the next 2 connections? Touch and go. 5:00 PM
  • - The mighty Trent 5:08 PM
  • Made it with a minute to spare. #onthebus to Lincoln, hoping to make a 5 min connection there. 5:13 PM
  • If I miss it, the next bus to Grantham won't be until 2045 hrs! 5:15 PM
  • There are 3 power stations in my field of vision, all with big cooling towers. 5:30 PM
  • I can see Lincoln Cathedral atop its hill in the distance. Good run so far, fingers crossed. 5:44 PM
  • - Saxilby 5:48 PM
  • Classic bus driver maneuver then: open doors at a T-junction for better right-turn visibility. 5:50 PM
  • - Wahey! 6:08 PM
  • Again, I made it with about a minute to spare. So all in, I will only be arriving in Grantham 30 mins late. Hooray for planning (and luck!) 6:18 PM
  • Best village name of the day: Boothby Graffoe. Even better than Clowne. 6:37 PM
  • Royalists drink in The Lion & Royal, Parliamentarians in The King's Head? 6:40 PM
  • Good evening Grantham. Pleased to meet you! 7:16 PM
  • - The Cake Shop 7:29 PM
  • There is catastrophe in the air. More later. 9:01 PM
  • To cut a long story short (for now) I have undertaken the first leg from tomorrow tonight and am stopping in Peterborough. 9:50 PM
  • Am at Wetherspoons having a commiserative stroke congratulatory pint. Or two. 10:18 PM
  • Three: couldn't resist the lure of Raspberry Fool by Caledonian. That fruity aftertaste - mmm! A real good treat! 10:46 PM

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Day 5 – Preview

In case of emergency internet fail, here is Thursday's itinerary.

Britain by Bus Day 5: Grantham to Andover

Day 5 Schedule

Gap 2: East Midlands Trains
0825 departs Grantham, Railway Station
0859 arrives Peterborough, Railway Station

Service X4
0910 departs Peterborough, Queensgate Bus Station
1220 arrives Milton Keynes Central, Railway Station

Service X5
1315 departs Milton Keynes Central, Railway Station
1355 arrives Bicester, Bure Place

Service S5
1427 departs Bicester, Bure Place
1503 arrives Oxford, Magdalen Street

Service 66
1545 departs Oxford, Bus Station
1700 arrives Swindon, Bus Station

Service 70
1715 departs Swindon, Bus Station
1800 arrives Marlborough, High Street

Service 80
1802 departs Marlborough, High Street
1854 arrives Andover, Bus Station

Day 5 Mileage

177 miles

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Day 4 – Preview

Britain by Bus Day 4: Stockport to Grantham

In which I bend the rules slightly by catching a train to Sheffield. They're on roughly the same latitude, so it shouldn't make too much difference in the grand north to south scheme of things. Plus, I'll be catching an East Midlands Trains service, and that's a franchise operated by Stagecoach. It doesn't have a great reputation, so I fear this may be the one time when I have to stand – irony of ironies for those who believe "train > bus".

It's then a quick succession of fairly short routes through the towns of Bassetlaw and then on into Lincolnshire, finishing the day in Margaret Thatcher's old stomping ground of Grantham.

Day 4 Schedule

Service 42
0719 departs East Didsbury, Parrs Wood Road
0731 arrives Stockport, Bus Station

Gap 1: East Midlands Trains
0754 departs Stockport, Railway Station
0838 arrives Sheffield, Railway Station

Service 43
0931 departs Sheffield, Flat Street
1035 arrives Chesterfield, New Beetwell Street

Service 77
1045 departs Chesterfield, New Beetwell Street
1202 arrives Worksop, Hardy Street

Service 42
1305 departs Worksop, Hardy Street
1330 arrives Retford, Bus Station

Service 96
1430 departs Retford, Bus Station
1530 arrives Gainsborough, Bus Station

Service 100
1605 departs Gainsborough, Bus Station
1700 arrives Lincoln, Bus Station

Service 1
1735 departs Lincoln, Bus Station
1855 arrives Grantham, Bus Station

Day 4 Mileage

108 miles

Day 3 – Twitter Digest


We're traversing the north west of England today, through Cumberland and the old county palatine of Lancaster – via the Lake District.

Monday, 20 April 2009

Day 3 – Preview

Britain by Bus Day 3: Carlisle to Stockport

A later start tomorrow, the first bus isn't until ten to eight. A slightly later finish than normal too, but that's okay because I'm heading home for the night. Lancaster is my old stomping ground, so I'll be pretty familiar from there southwards. I've been to Windermere and Ambleside before, but not on the bus.

The 125 and 126 run every ten minutes between Preston and Bolton – so I'll just catch one when I tire of Preston.

Day 3 Schedule

Service 103
0750 departs Carlisle, Bus Station
0834 arrives Penrith, Bus Station

Service X5
0915 departs Penrith, Bus Station
1000 arrives Keswick, Bus Station

Service 556
1025 departs Keswick, Bus Station
1312 arrives Lancaster, Bus Station

Service 40
1407 departs Lancaster, Bus Station
1524 arrives Preston, Bus Station

Service 125
1545 departs Preston, Bus Station
1718 arrives Bolton, Moor Street Bus Station

Service 22
1815 departs Bolton, Moor Street Bus Station
2003 arrives Burnage, Green End

Day 3 Mileage

157 miles

Day 2 – Twitter Digest


Day 2 dawns, and I've another lengthy day's travel ahead of me. From East Scotland all the way down over the border and into Carlisle.

  • 6:59 AM
  • - Day 2 - and we're off! 7:10 AM
  • - Breakfast on the move - the regular commuters seem to have had theirs already. 7:17 AM
  • Just realised - this nearly new bus started life in Manchester - the MX reg and a sign on the stairs are the give away. 7:24 AM
  • I'm (very) trying but it looks like I may have borked my laptop. Not sure. Stick to mobile for now. 8:54 AM
  • On X54 to Glenrothes arrive 0925. Nice coach with leather seats. 8:55 AM
  • In the Kingdom of Fife. Quite hilly, not big, just lots of them. 8:57 AM
  • On X54 to Glenrothes arrive 0925. Nice coach with leather seats. 8:57 AM
  • - Fwd: You can just make out the bridge o'er silvery Tay, Dundee in background. 9:06 AM
  • There is a knack to taking photos from a moving vehicle. I'm getting slightly better, but still not all that. 9:07 AM
  • Whilst I'm here, apologies if I've not replied to you yet. All a bit whistlestop still. Will get round to it. 9:09 AM
  • There is a knack to taking photos from a moving vehicle. I'm getting slightly better, but still not all that. 9:09 AM
  • - Having a nice mug o' tea at the Wee Diner in Glenrothes bus station. 9:41 AM
  • - 5 mins late departing Glenrothes. Curse of the first bus free travel passes are valid on? 10:11 AM
  • For moment there, sat in Dunfermline bus station, I thought we might have our first problem. Kneeling function awry but ok now. Lost 4 mins. 10:49 AM
  • - First (and only?) section of motorway on my journey. Next stop: Cumbernauld. 11:15 AM
  • 12:00 AM
  • I can't recall being to a bigger or more confusing bus station than Glasgow Buchanan. Crazy. 12:03 AM
  • Now on service 4 to Ayr. Arrival 1359 - not the fast route. 12:04 AM
  • - In Glasgow, home of frying, and kiosk only sells salad sandwiches and this Ginster's monstrosity. Bah. 12:26 AM
  • Glasgow suburb should be renamed Colinshaw, after the French. Discuss. 12:29 AM
  • - Current bus is a standard Stagecoach 90s bus with high floor. Reseated. Type runs my local route 169 in Mcr - ... 12:52 AM
  • - Eric bridge fail in Ayr? 2:20 PM
  • - Not what I expected - another coach, this one with 3 axles. 2:47 PM
  • This is the key connection today: arrive Dumfries 1701. Depart 1710. Lets hope rush hour in Dumfries isn't too bad. 2:49 PM
  • This is literally drive-by tourism. Subjected Ayr town centre to a cursory 20 min walkabout. 2:53 PM
  • School chucking out time. Lots of extra buses take to the highways, some quite old to keep council tax down no doubt. 3:06 PM
  • - Does an ergonomicly designed seat back really improve the customer experience? Not sure meself. Just tends to ... 3:13 PM
  • Speaking of old school buses, just seen 2 old Warrington dd's parked up in Auchinleck. I-Spy Bonus Points 1000 3:30 PM
  • Left Cumnock on time. Drivers swapped. So has my mobile. 3:38 PM
  • - Fluffy lambs. Aww. 4:00 PM
  • 30 mins to go. Will Dumfries' notorious traffic jams prevent a smooth change? ;) 4:44 PM
  • I feel like a reality tv producer, trying to ramp up the tension of a pretty dull episode. 4:45 PM
  • Truth is that Glasgow was much more touch and go than rural romps. 4:47 PM
  • Made it to the bus stop on time, but what's this? Gretna? I want to go to Carlisle. Has the tt changed? 5:10 PM
  • I shouldn't have joked about Dumfries and traffic. It's bad enough that there's no sign of the bus as yet. 5:13 PM
  • - Phew. 5:19 PM
  • I think I fell victim to "last bus stop before the county boundary" syndrome. Merseyside does that from time to time. 5:23 PM
  • - Unrefurbished standard 90s single decker 5:28 PM
  • This bus must have worked in Manchester at some point too: there's an old Clippercard machine by the door. First and last buses of the day. 5:39 PM
  • - England is behind this man's head. 6:22 PM
  • I am catching up with all my internets at the B&B. Sorry for the tardiness. 7:20 PM

Day 2 – Preview

Slightly delayed, unlike the bus service today. Sorry for any inconvenience!

Britain by Bus Day 2: Montrose to Carlisle

It's the first day back at school, so I'll be jowl and cheek with the regular commuters. The journey into Dundee might be prone to delay, but surely the traffic in Dumfries isn't bad enough to cause any worries. Is it? That last connection is the lynchpin of today's route: the 246 is only every two hours, and miss the 79 and there'll be at least an hour's wait for the next one.

Day 2 Schedule

Service 39
0705 departs Montrose, High Street
0823 arrives Dundee, Seagate

Service X54
0840 departs Dundee, Bus Station
0925 arrives Glenrothes, Bus Station

Service X24
1000 departs Glenrothes, Bus Station
1140 arrives Glasgow, Buchanan Bus Station

Service 4
1200 departs Glasgow, Buchanan Bus Station
1359 arrives Ayr, Bus Station

Service 246
1445 departs Ayr, Bus Station
1701 arrives Dumfries, Whitesands

Service 79
1710 departs Dumfries, Whitesands
1845 arrives Carlisle, The Crescent

Day 2 Mileage

247 miles

Day 1 – Twitter Digest


Here's a record of my tweets from Day 1 – slightly delayed due to wireless internet configuration problems...

  • 6 minutes to go before bus no # 1 - the 0650 to Inverness. 6:46 AM
  • - 25x from Thurso to Inverness 6:56 AM
  • Sitting back and relaxing for the next 4 hours. Didn't sleep too well last night due to snorers :( 6:59 AM
  • - Oops - the outside view... 7:04 AM
  • Just passed a bus in the opposite direction full of men wearing yellow hi viz jackets. Staff bus? 7:16 AM
  • A photo wouldn't show up, but this bus has tinted side windows. Makes the scenery look richer than the washed out view the driver gets. 7:31 AM
  • The bus is "better" than the train up here. More frequent and faster too. Not like other parts of the country. 7:47 AM
  • Two or three offshore platforms out at sea. This is a lonely coast but with plenty of scattered farms. 8:02 AM
  • - Every now and then are little graveyards - this one in Latheron with rocky coastline in background. 8:13 AM
  • The descent into Berriedale is low gear, hairpin bends. So is the ascent out. No wonder the train heads inland. 8:29 AM
  • - Helmsdale. This is the river valley the train heads off down. 8:58 AM
  • There are some gloriously sandy beaches in Sutherland. Sun shines brightly on Brora. Braw! 9:07 AM
  • - 5 min loo break in model town Dornoch. Seagulls squawk in background. 9:37 AM
  • - It really is a glorious day now - sun sparkles on Dornoch Firth from bridge. 9:47 AM
  • New driver gets on at Tain. Still a little wary about swop-overs en route - small town boy at heart. 9:51 AM
  • What was once a rural express route is now diverting via housing estates. 10:20 AM
  • Oh dear. I seem to be rushing about a bit at the mo. On the Bluebird to Aberdeen but nearly found myself still in the gents. 12:06 AM
  • - Another coach-like vehicle that runs an all-stops service. (Route 10) 12:14 AM
  • 4 hours. I may have a nap. The 350 (?) does a similar route but takes 5 hours. 12:29 AM
  • If I could have a penny for every daffodil I've seen today... 12:42 AM
  • - Scenery: rolling farmland and lots of trees. 1:03 PM
  • At Elgin bus station. Driver swap. Not seen any marbles yet. 1:34 PM
  • I'm in Keith. 2:13 PM
  • Still an hour to go, but no more mountains ahead of us. Rich verdant farmland all the way since Inverness. Nokia batteries low. 2:54 PM
  • We apologise for the break in transmission - this is due to a football stop in Aberdeen. COYB! 4:14 PM
  • Given that Aberdeen is the HQ of First, I've seen suprisingly few buses. Must be Sunday tt. 4:49 PM
  • Gotta say, this pub is rather lacking in atmosphere - but is handy for the bus station. A bit worried everyone might be for Lord Ferg. 5:03 PM
  • Somehow I just knew it would go to extra time. Oh well, got a bus to catch, 107 to Montrose... 6:18 PM
  • On a standard Stagecoach single decker. Spare mobile not configured to send pics as yet. Laterz. 6:44 PM
  • Woo hoo! 6:48 PM
  • I don't care for the phrase "going all round the houses" but it is apt for what the 107 is doing in Stonehaven. 7:19 PM
  • I've just seen what looks like a crop of daffodils, which seems patently silly. What else is yellow at this time of year? 7:41 PM
  • I am safely in Montrose. On the internet later, for now: FOOD! :) 8:53 PM

Saturday, 18 April 2009

Day Zero – Digest


Here's a record of my tweets from Day Zero – I've reversed the order so that it makes more chronological sense on a blog! I haven't really started yet, today's been more of a positioning move.

  • Not a hugely auspicious beginning - I nearly forget to catch my train, and already I've forgotten my sunglasses. 6:24 AM
  • Suprisingly quiet at the airport today, even though there's a big Virgin jumbo parked at T2. Never flown domestic from T3 before. 6:47 AM
  • - Nice view out onto the runway from T3 7:15 AM
  • I didn't think there'd be many people on the flight. Logic dictates otherwise - if my seat is 20D that must make 80. The Q agrees with that. 7:35 AM
  • Boarding now. 7:51 AM
  • Unofficially on a bus already - into Inverness town centre. Double decker, just like in Manchester - but with seatbelts? 9:37 AM
  • - Upper deck seatbelts 9:51 AM
  • I hope there's a pub showing the English FA Cup in Aberdeen 2mrw. Don't really fancy Motherwell v St Mirren. 11:19 AM
  • - Far North train - leaving in 7 mins 12:49 AM
  • Wow - no welded railway lines up here. You can feel every joint. Stunning scenery though. 1:09 PM
  • - When in Scotland... lightweight girders? 3:00 PM
  • Right. I'm in Thurso, settling down for a night at Sandra's Backpacking Hostel. Early start tomorrow - 0650 departure. 5:45 PM
  • Tomorrow's itinerary: 5:46 PM
  • - Proof of my arrival in Thurso. I may try for a video tomorrow. 5:48 PM

Friday, 17 April 2009

Day 1 – Preview

Britain by Bus Day 1: Thurso to Montrose

A relatively straight forward day in prospect on Sunday: three long legs down the east coast of Scotland. And when I say long, I mean long – the first leg to Inverness will take over four hours, and the second leg to Aberdeen is almost as long. By comparison, the final leg of the day to Montrose is a wee titchy one lasting just under two hours.

You may have noticed a rather lengthy spell in Aberdeen. This is intentional. I am planning to find a pub showing the football, in order to watch Everton in the FA Cup semi final. I have to catch the 1825 departure on service 107, penalties or not. Can't help thinking how spectacularly ill-timed this trip is already. At least I am demonstrating the usefulness of catching the bus into town on leisure – no risk of being caught drink-driving.

Day 1 Schedule

Service 25X
0650 departs Thurso, Railway Station
1103 arrives Inverness, Bus Station

Service 10
1205 departs Inverness, Bus Station
1556 arrives Aberdeen, Bus Station

Service 107
1825 departs Aberdeen, Bus Station
2014 arrives Montrose, High Street

Day 1 Mileage

265 miles

Those BusFacts in full

For the past few weeks, I've been posting a daily BusFact on Twitter in the run-up to my journey. Tomorrow I don my little rucksack and set off for the Highlands, so today's will be the last one. In all honesty it's been a pretty tough task coming up with new ideas each day. I hope I haven't been too dull or made too many errors. For posterity's sake, here's the full digested version. Corrections welcome :)

  • BusFact #1 : Jim Newton MBE is one of the oldest bus drivers in the UK. He is 79 years old and has driven for 58 years.
  • BusFact #2 : The longest production bus in the world is the Caio Topbus, at nearly 27m long. It runs in São Paulo, Brazil.
  • BusFact #3 : The oldest surviving single deck motorbus in the country dates from 1913 and used to operate in Barnsley -
  • BusFact #4 : Despite other strong claims, the 192 in Manchester is the busiest route in the UK with 9m passengers annually
  • Broken-down bendy-bus
  • BusFact #5 : Replacement of bendy buses in London will require 24% more mileage and cost £3m per year
    • Thanks to a suggestion from @technicalfault for today's BusFact. If there's a fact you'd like to see here, drop me a tweet.
  • BusFact #6 : Although double deck buses are mainly found in the ex-British Empire, Berlin also has a long tradition
  • BusFact #7 : The longest bus route in England is either the X53 Poole - Exeter (4h30) or X5 Oxford - Cambridge (115 miles)
    • irregular Manchester - Keswick is 120 miles says that website? – @technicalfault
      • It ran last year during the summer, but there's been no announcement whether it will run in 2009 yet - (PDF)
      • X8 operates again this year but only from Chorley - about 90 miles, 2h40 - a mere baby in comparison! :)
  • BusFact #8 : Scheduled UK bus services that use ferries: 81 on Torpoint Ferry / 50 on Sandbanks Ferry
    • (Where did BusFact #9 go? I think Twitter was having problems that day and it has become stuck down the back of the e-sofa...)
  • BusFact #10 : Buses have been found buried at the South Pole and flying over Paris
    • Yes, my earlier tweet was in aid of #AprilFools - all my own ideas for hoaxes seemed to involve buses for household pets
  • Steam bus
  • BusFact #11 : There are working examples of steam buses in the Lake District and Whitby
    • Today's fact inspired by my colleague Mark @Kaonix - any facts you want finding out? Tweet me and I'll try and get you an answer!
  • BusFact #12 : First "nearly 9000"; Arriva "more than 7000"; Stagecoach "around 7000"; Go-Ahead "3449 at 06/08";National Express "over 2300"
  • BusFact #13 : Birmingham's Outer Circle bus route is pretty unique for a UK city - if you discount Leicester, that is ->
    • Thanks to @bounder for today's BusFact suggestion.
  • BusFact #14 : There are only eight "A" variations in Gtr Mcr - 3A 17A 23A 28A 37A 42A 51A + 62A. Most route numbers are 3 digits long.
    • you can add 81A from end of the month :) – @conn1231
      • Good spot - an 81A from the end of the month! There don't appear to be any "B", "C", "D" or "E" variations at all.
    • Of course, a route number being three digits long doesn't prevent West Midlands from adding an "A" variation - witness the 966A or the 900E.
    • The standard West Midlands bus came with a four-track route number blind, making such oddities as the 966A possible
    • Preston used to have two-track route number blinds - see the way in which the 1 and 2 are squished onto the same blind
    • London buses have all the route details on one big blind - but what happens when a new route number is introduced?
  • There's a bomb on a bus
  • BusFact #15 : buses in the movies: On The Buses; Speed; Summer Holiday; High Society; Agent Cody Banks 2; Spiceworld ->
  • BusFact #16 : The highest bus route in England is probably the 517 from Windermere over the Kirkstone Pass. Any advance on 1489 feet?
    • The highest route in Scotland is probably the 502/503 via the Cairnwell Pass (2199 feet) south west of Balmoral.
    • For our friends in Wales: 1367 feet is the height you reach over the Horseshoe Pass north of Llangollen - a Sundays only leisure route.
    • Worldwide, how about Leh to Manali in India? 17470 feet at Taglang La pass yet still suffers from jams
  • BusFact #17 : Despite recent Royal Mail cutbacks, postbuses still run in rural areas carrying people as well as the mail
    • very few post buses. most are being withdrawn this year i think. some of the routes on the website are out of date – @travelling_wolf
      • Yes, I found references to further withdrawals whilst researching buses over Applecross Pass yesterday. Shame.
  • BusFact #18 : Happy birthday Halton Transport - 100 years old today. Check out their Family Fun Day in Widnes tomorrow
  • BusFact #19 : There are only 13 traditional municipal bus companies left in the UK, down from 47 at deregulation in 1986.
  • BusFact #20 : You're stood waiting for a BusFact for ages, and then two show up at once...
  • Giant squid bus
  • The double decker is a standard unit of measurement for comparison purposes e.g. Sainsbury cereal packaging = 750 tonnes = 101 dd buses
    • (My lone attempt at a mobile BusFact – this should be #21!)
  • BusFact #22 : Hybrid buses, with a small diesel engine generating electricty, could cut CO2 emissions by 38%
  • BusFact #23 : 1971 big screen outing of ITV sitcom "On the Buses" was bigger hit than Bond film "Diamonds Are Forever"
  • BusFact #24 : London General was the largest bus operator in London from 1855 to 1933 - initially with horse-drawn buses
  • BusFact #25 : The iconic Greyhound coach services in the USA are today owned by Aberdeen's very own FirstGroup.
    • Greyhound is owned by a European company??? – @The_Bus_Blog
      • Yes, FirstGroup acquired it when they bought Laidlaw. Stagecoach is another Scottish company - they own Coach USA! :)
  • BusFact #26 : Uses for old buses: driver training , tow truck, play bus, mobile library, roadside cafe, filming canteen, party bus. Yee-haw!
    • or something like the food standards agency cooking bus.. – @marilyneb
      • Yup, another good use. With only 140 characters to play with, I wanted to say "exhibition vehicle" but opted for "party bus" :)


Image credits: Brainless Angel and Tasa_M on Flickr