There was a time when all the services that you’d find highlighted here are operated by Bus Éireann as part of their commercial Expressway network. The ongoing pandemic has had a marked effect on operations as has the growth of private operators like J. J. Kavanagh, Irish Citylink, Aircoach and Dublin Coach. Both pressures have meant the withdrawal of services between Dublin and city destinations like Cork, Galway and Limerick, so it looks as if I need to add routes belonging to those other companies to make things a little more complete. This is a living list, so it will change over time anyway.
Here’s an admission: I have been playing with the idea of crossing to Dublin from Holyhead and then returning home via a Rosslare to Pembrokeshire ferry instead. Train timings don’t make this work so well, but this hourly service makes things a lot easier. Handily, it serves Dublin Airport too as well as places in Wicklow and other parts of Wexford county. All in all, it makes a daft notion workable should I ever choose to make it happen.
This service shares part of its route with the Limerick - Killarney Expressway service (14, see below for more on this) between Limerick and Abbeyfeale making for an hourly service along the County Limerick portion of the N21. In County Kerry, the frequency becomes two hourly for much of the day, and it extends later into the evening than I had expected too.
For the record, this service calls at all the major towns near the N21 in West Limerick and that makes it interesting to me for more than getting between Limerick city and the airport at Farranfore or Killarney. Service frequency is two-hourly and covers a good stretch of the day too. This looks like a useful one for those planning a visit to what is a scenic part of the planet.
30: Dublin - Dublin Airport - Cavan - Donegal - West Donegal
Here’s an intriguing prospect, a fairly straightforward way of getting from the heart of Dublin and its airport to the western reaches of Donegal. While you may have to study the timetable carefully and make sure that you change buses as needed, it’s still nice to have a possible route mapped out for you and I suspect that this is a part of Ireland that’s worth exploring too. Also, I have a suspicion that it won’t be all that crowded either.
For some reason, I managed to get it into my head that the connection between Cork and Killarney was poor, but the discovery of this route changes all of that. After all, the service frequency between Cork and Tralee is hourly most of the time, so I am wondering quite how I managed not to find the service before now. The next to the hourly extension to Rosslare is a revelation too though I have to admit that going to Ireland via Rosslare would make a massive round trip for me. Nevertheless, it’s an option that might need to be considered if arctic weather ever blights Dublin Airport again.
In my U.C.C. days, there were times during the summer when I made use of the southern section of this service to travel between Charleville and Cork. Then, the frequency was near to two-hourly and there were occasions when two vehicles operated some departures from Parnell Place Bus Station in Cork. On one occasion, the second vehicle was an elderly interurban bus mainly used for services to West Cork, and it felt a comedown from the more usual coaches. Something tells me that things have moved on a lot since then with the service frequency extended to hourly for most of the timetable. Interestingly, not much distinction is made between Sundays and Public Holidays either. Another change has been the making more calls to Shannon Airport and my spending several frustrating hours there before Christmas 2010 is what’s caused me to look at what travel options are available from the airport. Unlike my tarnished impressions of Aer Lingus, this service doesn’t look at all shabby nowadays.
For a long time, I often saw buses operating this service waiting to depart at Limerick bus station while awaiting those going to other places, yet I paid no attention to where it went. On surveying OSI maps, that has changed because I have noticed that the towns of Tipperary and Clonmel have hill country on their doorsteps. The latter is on the route of the Ballyhoura Way and near to both the Glen of Aherlow and the Galtee Mountains while the Comeragh Mountains are abutting the latter.
For getting to these places, it helps that there are plenty of buses operating to a near clock-face timetable every day of the week. What you do not get is an hourly service frequency over the whole day, so you need to check your departure times since some of the hourly slots are not taken or are used only on certain days of the week. Given that, it should be useful for getting into these Irish hills.
This is one of the more unusual Expressway services that Bus Éireann operates. It is both a cross-country and cross-border service that crosses the counties of Galway, Mayo, Sligo, Donegal and Derry. The timetable may have its eccentricities, but there are up to ten journeys each way a day even if not all of those go the full length of the route. Using one of those might be a way of passing through a part of Ireland that I scarcely have seen in the flesh at all.
For a long time, Bus Éireann did not operate any long-distance service between Cork and Dublin apart from one offered as part of a joint venture with GoBus that appears to have come to an end. That only served Dublin city centre in addition to its termini of Cork and Dublin Airport and now appears to be an entirely GoBus offering. In contrast, the 245X runs between both city centres four times daily with calls to Fermoy, Mitchelstown, Caher and Cashel that complement stops at Newlands Cross, Heuston train station and Busáras in Dublin itself. This is no reprise of the defunct X8, but it does make one wonder about the return of another service between Limerick and Dublin.
The operator of this service first came to my notice during the Great Recession and I remarked that it was an odd time to be starting a new transport venture, but it has persisted and thrived. The extensive timetable of this daily service is ample evidence of that with half-hourly departures from Dublin and Limerick for much of the day and the same extent applies to the hourly frequency that is enjoyed by Ennis. Tralee and Killarney are serviced on an alternate basis with places in West Limerick like Adare, Newcastlewest and Abbeyfeale also enjoying an hourly service level. While Dublin is not served between 00:00 and 06:00 unless there are delayed arrivals, the same cannot be said for the counties of Clare, Kerry and Limerick since they get the elements of a useful overnight service that I can see nighttime revellers using. You do have to change at the Red Cow interchange to get to Dublin Airport though, while other operators like J. J. Kavanagh and Irish Citylink (using their Eireagle brand) offer a direct service from Limerick to that destination.
It took until a recent trip to Ireland before I sampled this service. Before then, I would have wondered how viable it was with only one stop in Limerick aside from its two termini. That is no longer in doubt since booking in advance is advised if you do not want a tense wait before you find you can board a departing coach. That was my experience for the southbound service and I made a booking for the northbound one. Both coaches were full, and travel time is around 150 minutes too. The latter point and the pricing of fares at around €25 also looks competitive with the current cost of fuel.
Bus service provision in Éire is changing with more private operator involvement. The time when it all was done by the state operator CIÉ is long gone and recent tendering of Dublin bus routes to Go Ahead is enough proof of that as has the expansion of private company operation of express coach routes around the country.
All this change may help with rural transport too for there is only so much that an unionised monolith can achieve, a fact that is clear when you see how its network thins out as you go further away from Dublin. Local Link is working to address these gaps on behalf of Transport for Ireland, and it looks as if their efforts are bearing fruit with a mixture of scheduled and demand-responsive services that serve places that have not seen regular bus services for years. The fact that Transport for Ireland has a journey planner on their website makes it easier to discover these extra services and those provided by other companies.
Even with the above developments, I intend to continue building up what you find here as and when I find something new to add. Since I am always open to suggestions, let me know if anything needs adding or correcting. In the meantime, I hope that what you find here has a use for you.
16: Santry - Dublin - Ballinteer
Marley Park, the northern end of the Wicklow Way, is near the Ballinteer end of this route and that’s why it is getting a mention here. From there, it’s a short hop over the M50 into the Dublin Mountains for some walking, and it is possible to continue the whole way south along the Wicklow Way; using a bus is probably a better option for doing the whole route because this does not work well with car usage.
This next to hourly service from Townsend Street in the heart of Dublin lands you out near Powerscourt, a heritage property nestling in some fine hill country. You can skip Powerscourt and head directly for the hills and the Wicklow Way if you want, but there’s no need to bring your car with this travel option.
The location of the Great Sugarloaf next to Kilmacanogue makes it a great little hill to explore when you’ve only got a few hours to spare and being at the end of a bus route with a decent frequency helps too. This route replaced one between Dublin city centre and Kilmacanogue that had scheduled journey times of 85 minutes. Combining that bus service with a ride of the DART system shortened journeys and the usefulness of that approach matters more with the replacement bus service not serving Dublin’s city centre at all.
Blessington finds itself right beside the Poulaphuca Reservoir (otherwise known as the Blessington Lakes) and beyond those lie the Wicklow Mountains. That makes the sixty-minute journey using this bus service worthwhile and there’s so much to explore that you might never run out of places to savour.
226: Kinsale - Cork Airport - Cork Bus Station (Parnell Place) - Kent Station
This service is an amalgamation of the previous route 226 from Cork’s city to its airport and the 249 route from Cork to Kinsale. Even with the old state of affairs, there still were plenty of bus journeys serving Cork Airport and I remember seeing buses plying that route emblazoned with self-promoting liveries while I still lived in the city, just as I did with those buses heading off into West Cork.
Cork’s railway gets linked in now that the new 226 is in place. Now, it is possible to get directly from anywhere on the Irish railway network to Cork Airport or destinations on the way to Kinsale too. The latter makes a West Cork getaway using public transport a more realistic possibility, for those in Ireland as much as those from beyond its shores. It also works to the advantage of those living around Kinsale too though Garretstown has lost its occasional bus service in the process.
The main reason for bundling together these services is that they all serve Bandon before going on different routes beyond there and the 239 timetable is a summary one for the others. It is the scenery that is to be found that makes these routes attractive though the service timings may not make day trips a possibility always. Some places are served at different times on different days of the week, so these timetables need studying though there is a reasonable service level for much of that day across all the week.
The mainstay of this route is the portion between Cork and Fermoy that enjoys an hourly frequency every day of the week apart from Sunday. There also are Monday to Friday inbound morning extensions to Munster Technological University during that college’s term time, but there is nothing in the opposite direction, so students need to change buses in Cork city centre on their way home.
What particularly interests me are those extensions as far as Clonmel (Mitchelstown is a terminus in some cases)since that is near the northern edge of the Comeragh Mountains. Both Ballyporeen (which has associations with former U.S. President Ronald Reagan) and Clogheen (associated with Roman Catholic martyr Fr. Nicholas Sheehy) are access points for the Knockmealdown Mountains with their selection of long-distance walking routes. The latter of these also is near the scenic vantage point that is The Vee. Weekends see two or three journeys over the whole route while this doubles on other days of the week. Journey times are around two hours so that may limit some day trips but extensive coverage from early morning to late evening on many days of the week may allow early starts and late finishes that compensate for this.
One thing that has entered my mind is the possibility of walking from Kenmare using part of the route of the Kerry Way. That happened during a visit to the place that saw me hike to the top of Torc Mountain. To make that happen, this bus service would help but service frequencies are not extensive with one each-way journey on Sundays and bank holidays, two each-way journeys on Saturdays and three each-way journeys on other days of the week (there is an additional service between Kenmare and Sneem on Fridays). It does not help that the last departure of the day from Kenmare is at around 16:00 when you are based in Killarney. The service clearly is one for local people and that makes sense when visitors are transitory. Nevertheless, it does have a use during the longer hours of daylight in the summer months.
Perhaps because there was a previous railway connection that no longer exists, Tralee and Dingle are well-connected by this bus service. On Sundays and bank holidays, there are five or six journeys in each direction while this rises to nine or ten on other days of the week. That is just as well since there is mountainous countryside to explore along the Dingle Peninsula and I made good use of the service for doing just that when the weather allowed during a stay in Tralee.
There was a time when this route was served by Bus Éireann, yet that is no longer the case, and it is no part of the Kerry Local Link network. Most are door-to-door services that need advance booking, but this one is scheduled to operate every day of the week. There are three journeys in each direction on Sundays and bank holidays while other days of the week get eight journeys in each direction, even if some have Ventry as a terminus instead of Dunquin. Many offer connections with ongoing bus services to and from Tralee.
This is one of the longer local routes in Ireland with the whole route taking in excess of two hours to travel. There are four journeys in each direction seven days a week, while the section between Limerick and Foynes sees additional journeys from Monday to Saturday to bring the frequency to near two-hourly. In fact, the shorter portion once comprised the whole route, with extensions into Kerry only happening during the Irish primary school holiday season. The added service level and newer buses mean that this feels more usable than it ever did, as I found out for myself not so long ago.
It was for getting back to Limerick after a day out along Lough Derg and the hills near Killaloe that I first made use of this service. Though linked by a long single track bridge, Killaloe and Ballina are separate places in different counties (the first is in Clare while the second is in Tipperary) even if they work together to promote themselves as visitor destinations.
Returning to the bus service, there are three journeys in each direction on Sundays while there are seven covering the full length of the route on other days of the week. You will find extra supplementary ones serving different places in the Monday to Friday timetable. Timings are useful too, so this is a worthwhile service to know.
While the 51 Cork-Galway timetable is a good one, I am adding this local service to complete the picture for you and there seem to be plenty of possible journeys too. Hopefully, they’ll cut down on the need for car hire for getting about.
On Sundays, there are two journeys in each direction on this route and the frequency increases to three on other days of the week. What brought the Bus Éireann offering to my notice was that it could get me to Killaloe on the banks of the River Shannon while Lough Derg was not far away either. There are some hills nearby and the East Clare Way is a useful walking route around them, so the lure was heightened.
This route was made from the combination of no less than three predecessors and runs each day of the week too. There also seems to be a year-round core service with extra journeys during the peak tourist season. With the delights in west Clare like the Cliffs of Moher and the Burren, that is perhaps not too surprising and there is Dunguaire Castle near Kinvara too. The timetable may need some studying if you use the service, but it is not the only route with that quality.
360A: Waterford - Waterford Institute of Technology - Tramore
When I saw the announcement of this new timetable on the Bus Éireann website, curiosity led me to check it out and the half-hourly frequency for so much of the week amazed me; it is only Sunday mornings and early afternoons or later on weekday evenings that see an hourly service. The spread of the day that is covered starts early in the morning and extends late into the night. The 360A operates to and from WIT at peak times from Monday to Friday with the 360 operating at all other times.
It was my curiosity about getting to Cappoquin for some hill wandering in the Knockmealdown Mountains and maybe a visit to Mount Melleray Abbey, a former haunt of my late parents whenever rhododendrons bloomed around there. Lismore is another worthwhile post of call with its well-known castle and gardens. Handily, there is a regular seven-day service for getting to these places from Dungarvan, itself well-connected by Bus Éireann and Dublin Coach services. There are four return journeys on Sundays and an up to hourly frequency on other days of the week.
My interest in this daily service arose because it got me from Limerick to Newport, from where I could walk to the Clare Glens and into the Slieve Felim hills. There are three journeys in each direction every day and these extend coverage from early morning to early evening depending on where you need to catch the coach that is used. Aside from leisure users like me, students and commuters also make good use of the service since it gets to the University of Limerick and Limerick’s city centre at a good time every morning. The first departure of the day from Limerick may not leave as scheduled but does so a few minutes afterwards, but that caused no trouble for me.
This is a Bus Éireann service and some route variations complicate the timetable, but it is usable all the same. Irish Citylink offering (see below) serve many of the same places so combining the two can open up a lot of options, especially on a Sunday when the Bus Éireann is much more limited than on other days of the day. The Westport extension seems to be a peak summer holiday operation with one journey in each direction when it is available.
Access to the Aran Islands via ferry connections from Rossaveal get facilitated by this seven-day service that follows the southern coastline of County Galway and Connemara. Service times are somewhat irregular, so close attention to the timetable is a must even for the main route between Galway and Carraroe with other termini like Lettermullen or Carna getting one journey in each direction on most days of the week.
It is the more regular service to Westport that caused this service to catch my eye since it sits at the head of Clew Bay. The seven-day service enjoys a three hourly frequency on all days, so there is regularity about the operation even with the wide spacings across the day.
Both of these services head into the Donegal Gaeltacht from Donegal town, so I have bundled them together here. Though Bus Éireann is the main licence holder for these routes, local firm McGeehan’s Coaches work with them to operate many of the journeys. Very oddly, there seem to be more journeys to the likes of Glencolumbkille and Dungloe than there is from them, so it looks as if things are set up to meet Expressway services between Donegal and Dublin rather than serving the local area; that may explain the number of evening services starting from Donegal in the evening too. That may explain how timings are not set up for an out and back day trip from Donegal town though the opposite is possible. In a way, that’s a pity because there is plenty of alluring coastal scenery around here with Slieve League being beside the route of the 490 and Dungloe being at the head of a bay with islands at its foot. However, staying longer than a mere day might be warranted anyway with what’s on offer.
For a long time, there has been no public bus service operating within reach of the place where I had my upbringing. This useful seven day hail and ride offering only started a few years ago as a Local Link concession for Transport for Ireland, and its times of operation often extend from early until late too. There are four journeys in each direction on Sundays, seven journeys in each direction from Monday to Wednesday and nine journeys in each direction from Thursday to Saturday. Even with the now extensive service level, there are some gaps in the timetable that can catch you out, so it pays to take care, especially if making a connection to or from another service.
All bus routes in Ireland are supposed to be numbered, but there is no sign of one for this one. That does nothing to take from the fact that the timings are useful and there are those valuable extensions to Letterfrack and/or Cleggan too. The Irish Citylink service not only offers a useful way to reach Connemara because connections to the Inishbofin are possible at Cleggan. Then, there’s the matter of the timetable being more standardised than its Bus Éireann counterpart.
X28: Celbridge (Salesian College) - UCD/St. Stephen’s Green
There used to be a time when visits to Éire took me to Celbridge at times and forbears to these services came in very handy though the numbering changed during a reorganisation in November 2021. The C4 is the main daytime service and the frequency largely is half-hourly with the C6 being a nighttime bus service. By all accounts, the X28 is a university student service that operates at peak times only from Monday-Friday and not on bank holidays; UCD is one of Ireland’s largest universities.
Like its counterpart south of the border, Northern Ireland has a dominant publicly-owned transport company, Translink. Its interurban bus division is called Ulsterbus and they operate the services that I have listed here. This is a small start but it’ll build as I keep finding more to include. If there are any of which you want to see on here, please let me know and I’ll add them.
18/20/518/520: Belfast - Newcastle
Newcastle is situated at the foot of the Mourne Mountains and the regular (think at least hourly) bus service, albeit with buses carrying different route numbers at different times of operation, makes getting there without a car that much easier. With this state of affairs, my mind has been drawn to map perusal with potential walks being made out in advance of the chance of a future incursion into what should be attractive countryside.
It may not be hill country per se but the Antrim coast of Northern Ireland features a World Heritage Site in the form of Giant’s Causeway with its basalt pillars. That’s not all because there’s the Carrick-a-rede rope bridge and the impressive well-maintained ruins of Dunluce castle too. There’s a coastal path hereabouts so the four departures on Mondays to Sundays in the summertime could see a use. Nevertheless, it’s a pity to see this service, also known as the Causeway Rambler, only running for part of the year.
This isn’t a frequent service at the time of writing (it’s January so that may be an explanation) but the two departures each way on Mondays to Saturdays could come is useful for exploring the Sperrin Mountains with their heritage centre being a hub for buses from both ends of the route.
This summer only service gets you into the heart of the Mourne Mountains from the Co. Down town of Newcastle itself. When I last had a look, there were five daily services so it looks like a useful proposition when it comes to walking through these appealing hills. It’s not a fast way to travel but you wouldn’t want to rush things around these parts anyway.
It might be because of its size, but England hasn’t got a solid express coach backbone to its bus network quite like Scotland or Éire. The shortfall has been made up by longer local bus services, of which quite a few are to be found listed here. All of these services have a local feel to them, yet they cover longer distances too and that’s one of the criteria that I use to decide what is and isn’t a trunk service. Nevertheless, it is a tricky distinction to apply in England, so this list is bound to alter if ever I change my mind on the classification of any entry.
1/X1 Liverpool - Birkenhead - Ellesmere Port - Cheshire Oaks - Chester
These combine to offer a service level that is frequent with one bus every twenty minutes during daytime hours and an hourly service during the evenings of those days. That the total travel time is nearly two hours makes it all the more impressive even if trains surely are the faster way to travel from major towns. With buses, what matters is getting to and from the places between these.
There have been variations to this route over the years as well as a different route number. Even so, this retains an hourly frequency on Sundays while that increases to half-hourly on other days of the week, all with a morning to evening coverage of the day with a later start on Sundays. There are competing train services, yet this bus service continues to be a mainstay, which just goes to show that trains do not always trump buses.
Because Leek has some fine hill country to its north and bus services to there from Macclesfield, these services are of some interest to me. Their frequencies are hourly, with service 16 running every day of the week and service 18 running from Monday to Saturday, and daily coverage extending from early morning to early evening.
All of these are seven-day services and most connect Chesterfield with Sheffield, which is how I got to add them here. The X17 is even more interesting since it also extends as far as Matlock with a near hourly service frequency on all days of the week and the Sheffield to Chesterfield section becomes half-hourly every day apart from Sunday. The same sort of frequency doubling is seen in the other services when Sunday gets compared to other days of the week, and they all make up a useful network of bus services around East Derbyshire and South Yorkshire.
It was an article in <em>Discover Britain</em> magazine that brought to my attention the delights of Ripon. In so doing, it got me investigating possible routes there and away by public transport. That act reminded me of the frequent service 36 operated by Transdev Harrogate & District with their modern double-decker buses. So far, I have yet to sample these but a twice-hourly service on Sundays and thrice-hourly on other days is far from shabby at all.
37: Bath - Bitton - Longwell Green - Hanham - Lawrence Hill - Bristol
38: Bath - Newton St. Loe - Saltford - Keynsham - Brislington - Bristol
39: Bath - Newton St. Loe - Saltford - Keynsham - Brislington - Bristol
349: Keynsham - Brislington - Bristol
X39: Bath - Newton St. Loe - Saltford - Brislington - Bristol
Between all of these, Bath and Bristol should be well-connected by bus. Service 349 operates with a half-hourly frequency by Abus from Monday to Friday while the others are operated by First Bristol, Bath and the West. They all combine to offer five to six departures between the two cities and local towns and villages from Monday to Saturday while the frequency does drop markedly on Sundays and public holidays (37 becomes two-hourly while 38 and 39 are hourly, giving the semblance of a half-hourly frequency where they serve).
Sadly, the recent pandemic meant the end of the Sunday service but the early until late up to hourly frequency on other days of the week is enough to get it onto this list. It has been one of those resilient stalwarts of the Cheshire bus network otherwise, and enable numerous walking day trips in years past.
This largely is an hourly service from York to Pocklington with most buses continuing across the Wolds to Driffield and running either via Market Weighton or Warter. Some buses continue as far as Bridlington too to supplement Transdev’s Coastliner services (see later on in the list). These routes get you into the overlooked Yorkshire Wolds 362 days of the year by providing a seven-day service (45A is Monday to Saturday and 46A is Monday to Friday though but the 45 and 46 compensate for these). That makes the services useful for anyone fancying a quiet walk for a few hours or a whole day.
There was a time when I never would have missed out on including this service but any delay in adding them is down to my travel interests veering away from Tideswell and its surrounding area. Now that my attention again is turning towards the Peak District as a handy location for walking through what is appealing countryside. Handily, the service also goes via such places as Eyam and Foolow.
It was only when pondering a southbound stretch along the Sandstone Trail that I got to consider the possibility of using this service from Kelsall as an option in case I needed to stop my hike early. In the event, there was a strike that day, so the option was not there for me anyway, and it was just as well that I didn’t need it. Since it is a near-hourly Monday to Saturday daytime travel option, it is just as well that trains operate to a seven-day timetable.
Following Arriva’s departure from Cheshire, both Stagecoach and D&G Bus registered replacement services, numbered 84 for the former and 84X for the latter. Route 84 extends the whole way between Crewe and Chester, operating seven days with an hourly frequency. That increases to half-hourly between Crewe and Nantwich from Monday to Saturday. Service 84X echoes the same frequency between Crewe and Nantwich, so I wonder at the service duplication and ask how long it will last, even if there are different timings.
100: Manchester - Salford - Eccles - intu Trafford Centre - Irlam - Warrington
There may be regular train services between Manchester and Warrington, but that does not remove the need for a bus service like this one. The frequencies vary not only by the day of the week but also according to where your journey begins, so the timetable needs careful consultation. Even so, there are decent service frequencies and coverage of most parts of any given day is good too. Journey times can be long so that remains a consideration and trains do not have to contend with the vagaries of road traffic either.
This is another staple of the North Yorkshire walker’s transport itinerary and complements Transdev’s Coastliner services. From Scarborough, it heads along the southern edge of the North York Moors to Thornton-le-Dale, Pickering, Kirkbymoorside and Helmsley with summer Sunday journeys being extended to Sutton Bank Visitor Centre. On winter Sundays and bank holidays, the service gets reduced to two-hourly between Scarborough and Pickering only. Apart from that, it’s about hourly for 7 days a week.
This once was a service linking Macclesfield with Manchester seven days a week and from morning until night. That sadly is no longer the case, and we have this remnant operating six days a week and from morning until early evening. That means that there is no Sunday service and does not make it as useful for commuters as it might be even though there is an hourly frequency at times. In short, it is a classic example of what has happened to numerous interurban bus services over the last ten years.
There was a time when 218 offered a direct connection from Buxton to Sheffield that itself met the 118 from Stoke-on-Trent and Leek. That’s no more, and we now have a seven-day service starting from Bakewell. The weekday frequency is very usable, and the Sunday one varies according to season. Even with these changes, it’s good to know that it’s possible to get to Baslow Edge and surrounding hills without needing a car.
Pairing these services together will get you from Preston to Skipton and back since destination displays get changed at Clitheroe without any passengers needing to change buses for a through-journey. There are four journeys in each direction on Sundays with other days seeing a largely hourly frequency though you need to watch the times since departures do not operate always at the same minutes past the hour. Still, it remains as useful a travel option for anyone wishing to explore Lancashire and Yorkshire countryside as it is for generally getting about the area and that is enough to get it added here.
This service is also branded as the Mendip Explorer and a place name like Glastonbury should be known to many because of its regular music festival. Wells has a cathedral that is admired by many too so that is another attraction. It also helps that we are talking about a daily service that runs from early in the morning until late into the evening with a half-hourly frequency for most of that.
These routes have gone through a selection of operators over the years and now are in the hands of Belle Vue. No Sunday service is on offer, but there is early morning to early evening coverage on other days of the week. Route 393 appears to make use of what otherwise would be empty vehicle movements while the others are the mainstay of the offering. Timetabling is not clock face in basis, so the service time need careful consultation as a result.
500 Liverpool John Lennon Airport - Speke - Liverpool
Arriva operates this express service from early until late every day of the week. The general half-hourly frequency is respectable, so there can be no complaints about that. If I ever was to fly from Liverpool, then this service would have more than a use.
Because of its route and frequency, this service can be seen as part of the backbone of the Lake District’s bus network. For this year’s English summer school holiday season, that frequency is being upped to half-hourly between Kendal and Keswick on weekdays (Monday to Friday), which can have lots of uses if you could escape the crowds. For the latter purpose, Windermere, Ambleside and Grasmere can all be seen as gateways to the nearby fells and the bus passes by a goodly number of footpaths and other rights way leading to the likes of Helvellyn, Fairfield and many more fells, some less populated than those listed. Views from the top deck should be good too, so long as any route branding doesn’t get in the way.
724: Harlow - Hertford - Welwyn Garden City - Hatfield - St. Albans - Watford - Heathrow Airport
There was one occasion when work often took me to Hatfield and I seem to remember occasional sightings of buses plying this route back then. My more recent interest in the service stems from wanting to make use of Heathrow Airport for international travels now that Manchester does not seem to have as many options as it once did. An ongoing period of industrial unrest means that other options are explored beyond the railways and this is one of those.
The Sunday service frequency may be around two hourly, but it is next to hourly on other days of the week. In many ways the service is a round the clock operation though there is a big gap during the night hours. The end to end running time is around two hours, so you do need to check how long it takes from your starting point because rail may make a quicker option. Even so, it is good to have this because we need alternative modes of travel at the moment.
All of these are operated by Transdev York under the Coastliner brand using high-quality double-decker buses for 362 days of the year. Of these, the 843 service is hourly and the 840 is a firm favourite with walkers with its regular calls to Pickering and Thornton-le-Dale. Whitby and Bridlington are served much less frequently than other places, so you need to check the timetable carefully. Even so, services 843 and 845 are popular with walkers since they shadow the Wolds Way beyond Malton. The whole set makes for regular bus connections between Leeds and York via Tadcaster even if the total journey time of around an hour is three times longer than that of the corresponding train journey.
This is part of Transdev Blazefield’s Mainline route network and goes through South Pennines walking country, offering access to the Pennine Way, so that is why it attracts my interest. Sunday service frequency is at least two hourly and at most half-hourly on weekdays. Weekday evenings see a sparser frequency with a better service available between Burnley and Colne than on the rest of the route. That comment also applies to Sunday services though it remains a useful service for getting around these parts of Lancashire and Yorkshire.
Skyline 199: Buxton - Stockport - Manchester Airport
Perhaps amazingly, Buxton gets a direct bus link to Manchester Airport and Macclesfield doesn’t. That may be a consequence of Derbyshire folk making more use of buses than their Cheshire counterparts, but that is not to take from the usefulness of High Peak’s offering. Incidentally, it also serves Disley in Cheshire along with places across the Derbyshire boundary like New Mills, Whaley Bridge and Chapel-en-le-Frith. It may not stop at as many places in Greater Manchester though I have seen Hazel Grove and High Lane gaining a mention. While I know that there always is the option of going by train for this travel corridor, buses offer a little extra in terms of convenience and there can be railway engineering works.
It struck me as strange that one of the predecessors to this service, the One (Mayfield - Ashbourne - Derby), was a Monday to Saturday service without bank holiday running given the numbers of people that I saw using it on two Saturday visits to Ashbourne. Since then, it’s been combined with a 409 service between Uttoxeter and Ashbourne to give a new service with many of the features of the older ones, though Uttoxeter now sees more buses than it did. This looks like the hallmark of a company that cares about its services so the surprise regarding Sunday services grows. Maybe I should go there on a Sunday to see if there is an obvious reason for this but the non-Sunday service seems a good way to get around anyway. Be warned though that evening services are run by Arriva rather than Trent Barton, to my mind a consequence of council support. They also are less frequent than their daytime counterparts with no service to Mayfield or Uttoxeter either.
The Witch Way: Manchester - Prestwich - Rawtenstall - Burnley (- Nelson) - Skipton
The route number may be X43, yet the branding has to be more memorable. For over thirty years, there were no direct trains between Manchester and Burnley until the Todmorden Curve was reinstated, so bus services did better as a result. The attractions of comfortable seating and other amenities aboard frequent express double-decker services still mean that buses can be an alternative to what is an hourly direct train service. The demotion of Nelson in favour of Skipton or Grassington as a terminus is a more recent development which means a change of bus is needed in Burnley outside of peak travel times or late evenings. The extension to Yorkshire Dales may surprise some, but it again is more than feasible given how far Skipton is west of Leeds. With that in mind, it is not hard to see why some are campaigning for the restoration of the rail link between Skipton and Burnley. Whether it happens is uncertain at the time of writing.
In the meantime, buses do what the rail network cannot with the service frequency to Skipton being half-hourly from Monday to Saturday and hourly on Sundays. The frequency is higher between Burnley and Manchester with a half-hourly Sunday service and up to four buses per hour on other days of the week. It is the sort of high-quality service that commuters and those wishing to explore Lancashire or Yorkshire countryside need, so any patronage is well deserved.
Guidebooks aren’t usually so forthcoming when it comes to learning about bus routes, but that’s how I first found this route. Then, it was an offering from Trent Barton and is operated by High Peak nowadays. That was more than twenty years ago, so it should come as no surprise that there have been big changes along the way.
Once, mid-engined coach style vehicles plied the route between Manchester and Derby. The Manchester to Buxton section is no more, and we get low-floor buses these days. The service frequency is next to two-hourly on Sundays and this doubles on other days of the week.
Despite the route truncation, the route remains a useful one to know when getting about the Derbyshire Dales with visitor honeypots like Matlock and Bakewell being on the route. These places can get busy with motorised traffic so anything that reduces that has to help even if busy roads can mean late buses at times.
While Yorkshire’s coastline has yet to see my giving it a visit, I thought that I would add this anyway since there are walking opportunities around Whitby. The frequency largely is half-hourly too, and the service has been given the Sapphire treatment by Arriva.
There was a time when Keswick had a railway link in the form of the Cockermouth and Keswick Railway but that sadly no longer exists, and this bus service is its modern-day equivalent. On weekdays (Monday to Saturday), the frequency is hourly and buses run from early to late too. In addition, Sundays see a two-hourly timetable that covers less of the day. Without this service, getting to those hills in the north of the Lake District wouldn’t be as easy, and it would be a pity to miss them because of a lack of connectivity. In any event, the A66 is busy around these parts so giving the car a rest would seem sensible too.
Ulverston may not be uppermost on a list of access points for the Lakeland fells, but this bus service makes it one of them. Ulverston’s having a railway station makes the X12 a good link for someone coming in from outside the area and bus timings are not bad for that day of exploring the fells either and even might make it a better alternative to the 505 too.
Between all of these, there should be a decent bus network connecting many of Warwickshire’s towns. Services are expectedly less regular on Sunday but frequencies of several journeys per hour prevail on most routes on other days of the week. With the attractions of Warwick and Stratford-upon-Avon, that only can be a good thing.
X15: Newcastle - Morpeth - Alnwick - Belford - Berwick (via Great North Road or A1)
Northumberland may be one of England’s forgotten counties in some respects, but it does have an attractive coastline and good empty hill country surrounding the Cheviots. It takes 45 minutes to traverse by train and the bus running times that you see for this service, though better than the X18 below, will cause some pause for thought (travelling non-stop by coach from Newcastle to Berwick takes around 75 minutes anyway).
This route has been created by merging the previous 518 and 501 services to give one with journey times between Newcastle and Berwick of nearly four hours! The 518 was never a speedy affair anyway since it goes around by the coast to serve places like Amble, Warkworth and Alnmouth. These places though are worth visiting, Warkworth comes especially recommended, as are those north of Alnwick.
You do need to remember that not all services go the whole way, with many starting from and ending at Alnwick like the 518 used to do. There are useful connections to and from Alnmouth’s train station too though you do need to watch your timings. That said, they offer a way to shorten overall journey times that cannot be discounted.
As a means of getting between Leeds and the likes of Ilkley or Skipton, it probably doesn’t hold a candle to its rail counterpart. Nevertheless, trains can and do malfunction sometimes, so it’s good to have alternatives and being able to swap between the Airedale and Wharfedale lines has its place when chaos descends on the railways. Of course, buses always matter more for the shorter journeys along part of their route as opposed to their full extent.
With a paucity of rail connections to Whitby these days, it is easy how bus services need to increase their service frequency for the summer season and this is one of those. It plies the coastline seven days a week and offers an hourly service in the low season and a half-hourly one when the sun is likely to draw more to this part of Yorkshire. There is a good portion of the day covered too, always a bonus when services finish in the late afternoon in so many places.
This page began life as a place to highlight bus services that get you to and around English hill country. Since then, it has expanded to include other services of interest too, many of them with a more urban flavour. To get about England, both are needed so some of each will feature on this page for as long as it exists.
Those rural services will continue to be part of what you find here since even national parks have a patchy record when it comes to public transport information provision. The best ones include the Yorkshire Dales with the DalesBus website while Exmoor has the ExploreMoor one. Other parts seemingly need a little help, so I’ll not stop doing my bit here.
Listings need maintenance and, while I do have tools to attend to this, please do send me a message should there be any oversights, and I’ll set things to rights. Also, any ideas for other services that need adding are more than welcome too. An open mind is essential with endeavours like this.
A previous day trip to Harrogate quite a few years ago, and it was one or more from this collection of services that I chose as conveyance due to their more frequent than trains. That remains the case now and there is a 15-minute frequency on Sundays, and it is double that on other days of the week. It is an early morning to late night core service with the version extensions beyond Knaresborough remaining daytime affairs.
This route is a composite of two predecessors that came into being near the end of 2021. The frequency is half-hourly during the Monday to Saturday daytime and is never less than hourly at other times on these days. Once, there were late evening and Sunday journeys, but it remains useful even if it no longer passes as close to my house as it once did.
It has been over ten years since I last bought a bicycle and this service was used during that search. Then, Bullocks operated buses between Altrincham and Stockport too but have sold out to Stagecoach since then. The 11A (formerly the 371) covers more of the day than the 11 and both combine to offer a high service frequency across a part of Greater Manchester that once was in Cheshire. Evening services are less frequent, so they attract financial support from TfGM; they remain useful just the same.
Following Arriva’s withdrawal from Cheshire East, these routes result from the amalgamation of the previous routes 9 and 14. The new service 14 offers a service frequency of up to one bus every twenty minutes from Monday to Saturday. Route 14A then offers a two-hourly extension to Lyme Green and Langley, a cut from the hourly frequency of the previous route 14 that has attracted adverse resident comment. The change of bus service routing is another cause of criticism, though users of the old service 9 appear to have done a little better with service frequency, even if buses stop operating earlier in the day than before.
These routes are the amalgamation of the previous routes 4 and 19 following Arriva’s withdrawal from Cheshire East. The main portion of the route is served with an hourly frequency during daytime hours from Monday to Saturday. The Whirley and Prestbury extensions operate at different, so it is best to check the timetable before travelling.
Lower Nidderdale gets a next to hourly bus service from early morning to early evening for much of the week with five return journeys on a Sunday or a bank holiday when service 24 is augmented by service 825. The 825, also known as the Nidderdale Rambler, is part of the DalesBus network and is operated by Arriva Yorkshire at the time of writing. It extends beyond Pateley Bridge to the upper reaches of Nidderdale on Sundays and bank holidays while also passing by Brimham Rocks on its sole return journey from Harrogate where it is fed by an incoming 823 from York (probably the same bus but under a different route number though that needs confirming).
All the service 24 journeys get their branding too and that of The Nidderdale Branch appears on timetable information. To my mind, this reflects that a now lost railway line once served this part of the world. Still, the buses get none other than usual Harrogate branding; does that matter when a good service is on offer? After all, modern buses are in use, and it appears that they get well-used too based on what I saw when I tried it.
For all its distinctiveness, it may surprise some that Roseberry Topping is a hill that I have yet to visit, having only passed it recently while on a train destined for Whitby. The aforementioned train service only offers around four each way journeys from Middlesbrough a day, so these Monday to Saturday bus services could have a use. They combine to offer a half-hourly service between Middlesbrough and Nunthorpe with the onward extensions seeing an hourly service to such places as Great Ayton, from where a stroll to the top of Roseberry Topping might start.
29A: Easingwold - Alne - Tollerton - Linton on Ouse - York
31: Easingwold - Alne - Tollerton - York
31X: Kirkbymoorside - Helmsley - Easingwold - York
These are Monday to Saturday services that link York and Easingwold and the 31X also serves the walking territory around Coxwold, Ampleforth and Helmsley in the North York Moors. The frequency of services between York and Easingwold looks good with the North York Moors extension running every two to three hours. As is the case with many rural services these days, the 31X was under threat from funding cuts but appears to have been reprieved.
It is a shame that both of these timetables have not been pooled to make one because that would make things easier for bus users. What also has to be watched is that different journeys cover different lengths of the route. Whitchurch and Malpas see less service than other parts and that especially applies on a Sunday when they are not served at all. Careful inspection is needed if those longer Monday to Saturday journeys are sought and there would be ample reward for this given that much of the Sandstone Trail can be accessed with these buses. There is much to see along its length and the part between Beeston Castle and Maiden Castle is nearly the finest section of the whole route.
If I had wanted to make a journey from Macclesfield to Holmes Chapel without a car, I would have been unsure of what to do until I saw this bus service (yes, a connection needs to be made in Congleton, but that’s better than nothing at all). It runs on all days of the week except Sunday and bank holidays with the Congleton-Crewe frequency being two-hourly on Saturdays and hourly on the other days of the week.
43: Manchester Airport - Wythenshawe - West Didsbury - Manchester
44: Manchester Airport - Gatley - East Didsbury - Fallowfield - Manchester
45: Heald Green — East Didsbury — Fallowfield — Manchester
A delayed flight into Manchester Airport had me looking at transport alternatives when I was too late for the last rail replacement bus that would have helped me return home to Macclesfield. As frequent as this service is (and daytime Monday to Saturday frequencies are excellent), it was of little use with its taking nearly an hour to get me near Manchester Piccadilly train station. Even so, it might serve a use yet and others will need it, so it goes into this list.
With Chipping Norton being in the heart of the Chiltern Hills and Stratford-upon-Avon’s associations with English literature, this service does have uses. The seven-day service does have timetable eccentricities, so it needs careful consultation because of that. Sunday service is less frequent than on other days so that is another thing to note.
This one passes right through the heart of the hill country lining the Cheshire-Derbyshire border. The frequency is hourly Monday to Saturday and less frequent on Sundays when two journeys extend to Bakewell and Chatsworth House.
60/60A: Macclesfield - Rainow - New Mills - Hayfield
It is in getting you to places such as Rainow, Kettleshulme or Hayfield that this route proves its worth when you’re heading into the hill country lining the Cheshire-Derbyshire border or exploring Kinder Scout. Though timings are regular enough, this is a Monday-Saturday service, so you need to find other means if you have a Sunday outing in mind.
As if serving Glossop weren’t enough, it’s the passage by Hayfield of this service that guarantees its inclusion here. The frequency is hourly and new buses were bought for it not so long ago either, so I hope that it’s a service that’ll stay the course. While I cannot claim to have used it yet, its allowing access to Pennine moorland could change that yet.
This long-standing regular seven-day service had missed my notice until a recent trip to Skipton that involved bus travel between Manchester and Skipton. These days, it is branded Dalesway, but I have known about the service since spending some time in North Yorkshire during the spring of 2000. Aside from Monday to Saturday evenings and Sundays when the service frequency is hourly, a half-hourly one is pre-dominant. Sundays see coverage from morning until evening while service starts much earlier and stops much later on other days.
There was a time when this was a seven-day service, but funding cuts put paid to Sunday operations, and it now is a Monday to Saturday service; now the only Sunday bus connections between Oswestry and Shrewsbury are offered by the National Express 418 coach service from Wrexham to and from London. There are no evening journeys beyond the last one from Shrewsbury to Oswestry at around 19:00 either. That the service level is half-hourly from early morning to late evening makes the omissions all the more amazing.
Nowadays, service 72 is a seven-day service operated by Transdev’s Keighley operation with connections to Upper Wharfedale offered by NYCC and Upper Wharfedale Venturer. The operating frequency is next to hourly and covers the day from morning to early evening.
73: Bedale - Leeming Bar - Moreton on Swale - Ainderby Steeple - Northallerton
This is a half-hourly daytime Monday to Saturday service that usefully connects with services between Bedale and Wensleydale. Those are of interest to anyone fancying a walk in that dale or even to embark on an outing that is a little more sedentary than that.
There are a lot of nice places to explore along the part of Wharfedale served by either of these services. Service 74A is operated by North Yorkshire Council on certain weekdays while service 874 operates year-round on Sundays and bank holidays and is part of the DalesBus network.
Also known as the Borrowdale Rambler, this service lands you right at the end of the dale for easy access to the central fells. Other than the high season when it runs half-hourly on weekdays, the frequency is hourly. Weekday services start early in the morning and continue until the evening and, while Sunday services are more limited, the timetable remains more than usable. Open-topped double-deckers are in common usage during the summer, though the use of the top deck might be for the braver of disposition given it follows a road, overlooked by trees most of the way, that is narrow and hilly in places.
The original reason for adding these was the fact that one of their predecessors continued as far as Ingleton. That is no more, though there are connections at Kirkby Lonsdale for route 581 to Settle that continues the possibility after a fashion. The Lune Valley is worth exploring too, even if that has not happened by the time of writing.
95/96: Barnard Castle to and from Middleton-in-Teesdale
X75/X76: Darlington to and from Barnard Castle
The X75/X76 and 95/96 pairs used to be operated by Arriva following their takeover of Stagecoach’s Darlington operations. In those days, the same bus used to run the whole way from Darlington to Middleton-in-Teesdale and vice versa, so it felt like a direct route. However, things haven’t remained like that: Scarlet Band now operates the 95 and 96 while Arriva continues with the X75 and X76. This adds in a change where once there was none unless you go with the less frequent 84 or 84A instead.
This Monday to Saturday service is a combination of two previously separate routes, and it connects with service 89 between Knutsford and Northwich as well. The Macclesfield to Knutsford portion was the old route 27 and is a shadow of its former self with the last bus of the day from Knutsford to Macclesfield on a Saturday being too early for my liking. The rest of the route gets an hourly service, and it passes runs by the Viewing Park and Cargo Centre of Manchester Airport too, though there is more of a walk than other ways of getting to those places.
It is the Leek to Ashbourne section of this route that is its mainstay; the Buxton extension used to be added to a service between Leek and Hanley. There may be no Sunday or bank holiday service and the timetable may be irregular, but this remains a useful service for the hill country that is found along the route. The earliest start from Buxton is late in the morning time though, so that is one thing to remember for a hike in the Roaches. Even so, if point to point walking is your thing, plans can be made to walk for you.
A messy changeover following a surrender of route operations meant that this service was absent from the list for a while. It has returned since there is some fine hill country near Leek. This is a Monday to Saturday operation and the timetable is a little irregular, so you need to plan your day carefully. Aside from that, it is good to have something like this.
Until spring of 2014, there used to be a route 157 that complemented the 156 and gave a near hourly service, but we lost that because of council funding cuts so a two-hourly Monday to Saturday service has to suffice. It is the 856 that operates on Sundays and bank holidays year-round these days, and it is part of the DalesBus network too.
One winter night during my early explorations of Derbyshire, I went home via Chesterfield and Sheffield. It wasn’t a direct route but bus times and the chill of that evening meant that I felt the need to get home in any way that I could. This was the service that took me as far as Chesterfield, and it is an hourly affair running during the daytime on seven days of the week. With its passing by Baslow, it is a good option for those wishing to explore the edges near there on foot, so it gets into this list.
While out on a walk between Monyash and Bakewell, I spotted this Monday to Saturday service’s timings at bus stops in Alport. The backbone of the service is the section between Bakewell and Youlgreave and there’s a near hourly frequency too. Extensions to Chesterfield and Hartington are infrequent while Middleton does far better and that helpfully is not far from Youlgreave anyway. The Chesterfield connections are possible by the bus running to and from Bakewell operating the 170 without needing any change of bus. Some journeys on service 172 run between Bakewell and Matlock via Youlgreave, so these are in this timetable too. It is all mix-and-match in this part of Derbyshire.
172: Bakewell - Stanton in Peak - Winster - Matlock
There are other ways of getting between Bakewell and Matlock by bus, but this route gets a mention since some of its journeys go around by Youlgreave. The frequency is not quite hourly, so you need to survey running times if you are planning on using it, and that is more likely because of where it goes on its way between the two places unless a certain impatience has overtaken you.
This bus service conveys folk through pleasing Derbyshire Dales countryside as it goes its merry way. Monsal Head is another of the places served but Tideswell has much to commend it too as do the two termini. As with many rural bus services, having a copy of the bus timetable with you on a walk could help you get about without worry.
Curiously, these services are bound up together in the same timetable leaflet from Stephensons of Easingwold. The first four of these take walkers into the Howardian Hills from York and Malton, principally to Castle Howard but also serving several picturesque villages in the area. It runs several times a day from Monday to Saturday. Services 194 and 195 serve the northern side of the Howardian Hills and link Malton, Hovingham and Helmsley. All of these pass through some alluring walking country and face an uncertain future in these austere times. Let’s hope that a usable service level survives.
These services once extended as far as Droylsden and Manchester but that no longer is the case, so you need to get as far as Stalybridge to make the most of them or use them to reach out into surrounding areas from Glossop and Hadfield. After all, there’s the nearby Dark Peak moorland awaiting exploration as well as the somewhat blighted Longdendale Valley as a breathing space of sorts. Both make the area worthy of visiting, and it’s all very handy for many people too.
It takes a little more effort to get from Macclesfield to the Trafford Centre shopping complex by public transport, so it is not one of my haunts when other places are more accessible. Nevertheless, since many will travel there, this service would be useful to them, and that means that it gets included here. Between both routes, there is seven-day coverage from early morning until late evening and with a decent frequency too.
267: Berwick-upon-Tweed to and from Wooler via Etal
464: Berwick-upon-Tweed to and from Wooler via Lowick
Wooler is a rather sizeable little place with the Cheviots on its doorstep and does have useful bus services linking it to the outside world. This pair operated on a council contract by Borders Buses, almost provides two-hourly connections to the East Coast Mainline at Berwick; buses on both services appear to depart at near enough the same time from Berwick-upon-Tweed or Wooler. That said, there are no Sunday services and that makes it a bit tricky to get away after a weekend up there unless you bring your car or get a taxi.
Very usefully, tickets on this hourly service are valid for train journeys and vice versa. It remains to be seen how long this arrangement lasts, but it gives the sort of flexibility that is seldom seen in the world of public transport in Britain. It is the sort of far-sightedness that makes scenic locations like the Hope Valley easier to explore, especially when train service frequencies are two hourly.
Of these, the 358 is the one that you are most likely to meet unless you start walks at 06:00 or end them at around 00:00 when the 360 functions more as a way to get a bus to and from the Hayfield terminus at those extreme ends of the day. Service frequency is approximately hourly, so it cannot be described as anything other than reasonably respectable. That Hayfield is situated near Kinder Scout and other such Dark Peak moors cannot make this service anything other than useful for exploring those parts.
369: Manchester Airport - Wythenshawe - Cheadle Hulme - Stockport
X69: Manchester Airport - Cheadle Hulme - Stockport
Stockport gets regular bus connections to Wythenshawe and Manchester Airport because of these services. The 368 and 369 are half-hourly for much of the period of their operation with the X69 running early in the morning or late at night. Of the three, the 368 only runs from Monday to Saturday though the others are seven-day services. Journey times depend on the time of day though the range is from 35 to 45 minutes, not so disgraceful really.
375: Mellor - Marple - Bosden Farm - Hazel Grove - Stepping Hill - Stockport
383: Stockport - Marple - Romiley - Stockport
384: Stockport - Romiley - Marple - Stockport
A hole in a train timetable was the cause of my using the last of these to get from Marple to Stockport, and I was at my destination in around 30 minutes, something that highlights how near the two places are to each other. As it happened, I was travelling on a Sunday, but weekday travel times aren’t that much longer either. Another point in favour of 383/384 is their frequency of operation and the length of the day that is covered by each. In contrast, the 375 is a daytime-only service that runs along a less direct route (takes much longer too) than the others on an hourly timetable. Well, you cannot say that Marple isn’t well served by public transport.
The 401 and 411 ceased to exist recently and this is the partial replacement. Service frequency has been reduced to the point where I wonder why it still is needed, and it only goes between Alnwick and Belford with no extensions as far as Berwick-upon-Tweed like there once were. It’s a Monday to Saturday affair too.
A recent walk around Church Stretton had me witnessing the passage of buses operating this service through the town. The frequency is hourly apart from one variation on schooldays, and it serves Craven Arms too. There’s no Sunday service though, but it remains useful for any gaps in train timetables on other days.
An article by Cameron McNeish in TGO got me pondering a visit to Much Wenlock for exploring nearby Wenlock Edge. Checking out public transport connections revealed this hourly Monday to Saturday bus service that also connects with the 890 for Wolverhampton at Bridgnorth. With transport options sorted, the next step is to see how long a walk down the aforementioned edge would be if I were to continue the whole way to Craven Arms. That could be interesting.
Dovedale isn’t a part of the world that I have got around to exploring very much just yet; so far, I spent a mere hour exploring a snippet of the Tissington Trail near Ashbourne and there’s more around there than that. Making use of these useful bus services should help to address that oversight and the Peak District is deserving of more of my attention too. That there is an hourly to two-hourly service running between Buxton and Ashbourne should help too though there is only one each way journey on the 441, which is a partial replacement from the withdrawn 42 and looks more like a shopping trip service for folk living along the A515 now. Otherwise, it is the 442 that goes around by Crowdicote, Longnor, Hartington and Tissington that is the mainstay now and these are places to which visits are owed.
This useful set of services that get you to and from Wooler are operated by Borders Buses on a council contract. An aspect shared with their Berwick-upon-Tweed counterparts is their regularity. The lack of a Sunday service and the last departure at 17:00 are other features shared with the 267/464. The fact that Alnwick itself is a few miles away from a train station (Alnmouth is the nearest), is another consideration, but that won’t matter if you’re spending a few days in the area, something that it deserves.
During the summer season, this service started from Windermere, but it’s sadly not nearly as useful when Ambleside is the favoured starting point for the winter. Timings are not so useful for that long day among the fells either so some enhancement for next year’s summer season would be ideal. However, if you are already stationed in the area, then timings are probably fine for you, and it will have its uses.
Ullswater might be the attraction for a lot of the people who use this service, but it’s what sets off the lake so well that would be the draw for me. After all, Helvellyn is but one of them and there’s also an empty quarter to the east that offers parts away from madding crowds to the more intrepid wanderer.
The core of this route is the section between Penrith and Patterdale and that once was served mainly by a route numbered 108 on six days of the week with Sundays getting a service during the high season. Now, it is to be known as the 508 instead.
In addition to Ullswater and its surrounding delights, there are to be extensions to Carlisle in the north and Windermere, via the pretty Kirkstone Pass, in the south for the 2014 season. From April into November, Saturday and Sunday services follow that pattern as do Monday to Friday ones during school holidays. In addition, the service level has been increased with an hourly frequency on offer at certain times in the day. Even with that, you still need to watch out for the last buses in the day since it resolutely remains a daytime service with no evening journeys at all.
The Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel is at the base of the well known Langdale Pikes, so this service easily gets the moniker of “Langdale Rambler”. Despite the timetable stating otherwise for some services at the weekend, this service does restrict itself to Ambleside as one of its termini. It’s less than desirable to have to change bus in the village after coming from Windermere and further away, but that seems to be the way. Even so, the service itself is a useful one, particularly when you consider how much a hotel stay in Langdale might cost you and how good the hill country is around those parts.
Until I saw its mention in a leaflet about walking along The Ancient Portway in Shropshire, I hadn’t been aware of this bus service and the walking options that it makes available. This is a Monday to Saturday operation and its frequency is near enough to hourly, though it only runs in the daytime and not into the evenings. Still, it opens up opportunities that may not have been there only for its existence.
Some county councils don’t do so well with providing a comprehensive collection of bus timetables, and it seems that Shropshire is one of them. The result is that this timetable is a homemade effort, but I hope it remains useful nonetheless. The reason for its inclusion is Bishop’s Castle’s location in the heart of Shropshire’s hill country together with its relative proximity to the Offa’s Dyke Path. Add the fact that it passes the Stiperstones as well and its usefulness becomes undoubted.
The only occasion that I have to use this service was after a hike over Ingleborough from Ribblehead but Ingleton’s proximity to delightful open hill country festooned with limestone pavement makes a service worth knowing. At either end, there are further public transport connections: by train from Settle or on the bus service to Lancaster from Kirkby Lonsdale. They make the Monday to Saturday service even more workable for a walk and there are services 81 and 82 to Lancaster too for even more flexibility.
In the summer, this runs every twenty minutes and extends to Grasmere. For this winter, the frequency is hourly, and the service is restricted to daytimes from Monday to Saturday. It remains a useful complement to the 555 and, given the hill country accessible from Ambleside or Windermere, it merits a mention here. That extension to Grasmere makes it more noteworthy again.
These services are a renumbered form of predecessors, out of which I used service B3 in its previous incarnation as route 500. That took me from Hebden Bridge to Haworth one Sunday, and it’s good to hear that its hourly ways are going still. Collected with the others, it means that there is an excellent bus service through the Worth Valley. Some may go for the literary connections and the heritage railway, but there are hills to trample too. Without those, none would find their place here.
Its predecessor was a Monday to Saturday service that had gone unknown to me until a visit to Northumberland that took in the details of Alnwick and Warkworth of a hot sunny Saturday in May. It is operated by Travelsure, an independent operator based in Belford, and serves the above locations with four return journeys a day.
As far as I can remember, this Monday-Saturday service didn’t always have this route and neither was it an hourly timetable either. Arriva even has given it MAX branding and added in the section between Newcastle and Morpeth that was not there before. That makes it far more useful than it used to be, never a bad thing given the hill country around its final destinations. Now, all that’s needed for a day outing from further afield is for those rail connections to work and that becomes easier with a Newcastle start for a bus journey.
Like Éire, Scotland also has a solid express coach network at the heart of its bus system. In their case, it’s Scottish Citylink and many of the services on this page are operated by them. Despite the company’s name, some go through empty wilder parts on their way to destinations in the Highlands. There are services operated by other companies in this list as well and more may be found over time.
It took a weekend trip to Inverness for this long-distance coach service to reach my attention. The cause was my decision to travel to Aberdeen and see what lies between the two places. There was a train that I missed, but the bus service takes much longer, so I went for a later train instead. The whole road journey takes about three and a half hours while the train takes around two hours. Still, the frequency is at least hourly throughout the week though services start later on Sundays. Also, some journeys can be booked via the Megabus website too.
In keeping with my adding of Lothian Buses routes for accessing the Pentland Hills to my Scottish local services listing, this collection of services has to be included here. There is, however, another reason for its inclusion: all but the 102 and 200 both pass through Moffat and so land you on the doorstep of the Southern Uplands and the Southern Upland Way passes nearby too. All in all, these are invaluable services for those wanting a spot of hill wandering though it must be remembered that day trips from Edinburgh to Moffat no longer are as much a possibility with the latest timetable. Nevertheless, getting to Biggar using a reasonably regular service frequency has to have its compensations.
Braemar is somewhere that has come to mind as a place to visit a few times now, and it seems that the best approach by public transport is from the east. The service frequency provided by Stagecoach Bluebird isn’t too bad either with its being hourly at certain times of the day. Even with a journey taking over two hours, the hours of operation are sufficiently long as to allow a decent length of day trip anyway, always a good thing. All in all, it looks usable.
Trains are not the only high-frequency public transport option between Glasgow and Edinburgh since Scottish Citylink operates this shuttle too. Journey times are of the order of 78 minutes with a limited number of stops being made along the way too. Current advertising capitalises on oversubscribed and more expensive train travel (a Glasgow-Edinburgh service that I recently used was very busy) but I cannot say that a seat is guaranteed all the time. Nevertheless, it’s always good to have a variety of options.
These services interest me because they allow you to reach ferry services for islands in the Firth of Clyde from either Largs or Wemyss Bay, while both Gourock and McInroy’s Point act as access points for Dunoon and Cowal. The Paisley service frequency is hourly from Monday to Saturday and then one journey every ninety minutes on Sundays. The Sunday service frequency is near-hourly on the Glasgow routes and up to three journeys an hour on other days of the week.
909: Edinburgh - Grangemouth - Stirling - Stirling University (- Bridge of Allan - Dunblane)
This Monday to Saturday Citylink express coach service came to mind when I was adding in an entry for the corresponding First-operated bus service. Albeit with some deviations, it is an hourly daytime service that takes up to 90 minutes to travel the full route and extends as far as Bridge of Allan and Dunblane for the first and last two journeys of the day from Monday to Friday, hence the brackets above. Also, Stirling University is not served on Saturdays either.
914/915/916: Glasgow - Fort William - Isle of Skye
These Scottish Citylink services pass through some very classy country as they make their way to their destinations. The 914 is the only one not starting from or continuing to the Isle of Skye since it forms the first southbound journey of the day and the last northbound one. Otherwise, passage into countryside dominated by ben, loch and glen north of Fort William is very much guaranteed with Eilean Donan castle, Cluanie and the Great Glen being on the route. South of Fort William, good access to the West Highland Way is on offer along with such wonderful locations like Loch Lomond, the Black Mount and Glen Coe. The expanded service for the summer has ended for the winter, but I remain hopeful that it will return next year. Even though it’s now in the low season, it might be better to give the 11:00 departure from Fort William to Glasgow a wide berth since that can get very busy at times.
Whenever I have used this, it has been for getting from Fort William to Inverness apart from a time when I went from Inverness to Urquhart Castle and back. Between all the services, there is a good spread of services throughout the day along the length of the Great Glen, which is handy given the outdoor activity possibilities around there. Connections linking Fort William with Oban are possible on service 918 too.
This shares its route with the Fort William/Skye services up as far as Tarbet where it then turns towards Inveraray and then down the Mull of Kintyre to Campbeltown. Along its way, it passes through Arrochar, offering a good way into the hill country of South Argyll. I have never been beyond Inveraray so visiting the Mull of Kintyre remains outstanding and its charms unsavoured. After a bus war between Citylink and West Coast Motors, sense has prevailed with WCM now operating the Citylink contract like they did earlier this year. It’s always good to see madness abating.
Between Glasgow and Inveraray, its route is identical to the 926 so the same comments apply. Beyond Inveraray, it calls at Dalmally and Taynuilt, allowing to get to the likes of Ben Cruachan, Glen Orchy and Loch Etive. Oban’s being a gateway to islands like Mull make the route even more valuable. As per the 926, the same comments about timings at intermediate stops apply, and it’s good to see that the bus war that also affected this route has come to a satisfactory end with WCM operating things as they did before.
The introduction of what became known as the “Saltire Cross” to Scottish Citylink and Megabus route diagrams following the institution of the joint venture between the two companies not only resulted in changes to the way the services were operated but also aroused the concern of the Competition Commission. The result of that attention was that Parks of Hamilton bought out some of the services to operate under their name, though they still work side by side with Citylink/Megabus.
Despite all these changes, Citylink/Parks remain the main bus/coach operators for services to the likes of Pitlochry, Blair Atholl, Calvine, Dalwhinnie, Newtonmore, Kingussie and Aviemore from the south; changes at Perth usually are needed. To my mind, that allows access to the hill country that surrounds these places and a two-hourly frequency may not seem outstanding, yet it is better than many parts of the Highlands. One fly in the ointment might be that it doesn’t make a good option for a day trip that requires an early start, but there are alternatives such as the National Express 588 service from Glasgow and there are always trains from ScotRail too. I’ll certainly be keeping my options open for any future excursion to an area to which I haven’t devoted much of my time to date.
It has been to get to Peebles hill country that I have used this service. Handily, Monday to Saturday daytime frequency is half-hourly, and it is hourly at other times. It operates from early until late too, so it qualifies as a trunk service even if it is operated using buses and not coaches.
This service has improved vastly since I first got to know of it. The Monday to Saturday frequency is as good as hourly and there are four departures in each direction on Sundays that offer better coverage of the day than once was the case. As if that was not enough, it is complemented by local service 74 between Dumfries, Beattock and Moffat for greater usability. It is my interest in the hill country around Moffat that draws my interest and day trips from Glasgow become more workable than those from Edinburgh, which was not always the case.
Harris plays host to fine hill country that proves that hills lower than those on Skye or the Scottish mainland can still look magnificent. As if that were not enough, there are fine beaches to be enjoyed too. Of course, you need to be able to get to these attractive places and this bus service means that the car can be left after you. While you need to watch the times of the last buses of the day, the summer frequency very usefully seems to be next to two-hourly even if that is reduced for the winter. There is no Sunday service because sabbath observation is very important to the people of the Western Isles, but that same comment applies to other things there as well.
The Uists are joined by causeways from Berneray as far south as Eriskay and this bus travels over the whole extent with North Uist, Grimsay, Benbecula and South Uist being crossed on the way. South Uist has its hill country and its machair while lochs are found all over the place. Since the landscapes are worth seeing, there are many advantages to going by bus and this bus route links the lot from top to bottom. Unlike the W10 which is run by one company alone, the W16 and W17 are shared between different companies, so there are changes of vehicle en route and the use of different operators depending on the time at which you are travelling. It all sounds eccentric, yet it does work in a way and care with the last buses is a must since later services are run by request only. You won’t find a bus running on a Sunday, but that is a practice that should not surprise anyone with any knowledge of the Western Isles.
This list of local services has yet to betray its focus on accessing Scotland’s classic and classy mountain scenery. That topography makes it tricky to construct a network that is more extensive than the one that it’s got, and it makes bus and coach services vitally important, especially in more remote areas where there aren’t that many of them.
To help others know what’s available, I have collected a few of these here. Of course, more await inclusion but, in the meantime, I hope that you find this list to be helpful. As well as additions, I also hope to keep what’s here as up-to-date as I can.
4: The Jewel - Hillend
City centre bus services do sometimes terminate at country parks, and the regular Edinburgh service is an example. Hillend Country Park is more than an access point for the Pentland Hills, since it is also an all-weather ski centre. The proximity of low-sized hills with good lung and leg busting climbs up to their summits is the cause of its inclusion here. The service runs all day, so there’s next to no fear of being marooned for the night.
The proximity of the Pentland Hills to Edinburgh means that several of Edinburgh’s city centre bus services terminate on their doorstep. Bonaly has its country park only a short hop from this regular route, even when buses don’t call at Bonaly itself, and offers an excellent way into the heart of the hills.
My interest in this Monday-to-Friday service arises from Cannich being an access point to the wild country around Glen Affric. Once, there was the possibility of there being enough coverage to allow a day trip, but cuts mean that a stay in the area is needed unless you either make use of a taxi or have your transport. That is not so ideal but the chance of getting there at all may interest those wanting to spend longer around Glen Affric or even enjoy a multi-day walk as far as the Cluanie Inn from where buses to and from Skye will convey you.
This service makes staying in Aviemore and exploring the hills around Rothiemurchus and Glenmore a convenient possibility. While I suspect that it attracts a generous subsidy thanks to the troubled Cairngorm Mountain and its funicular railway, the hourly frequency is undeniably useful for many a day out among the hills as well as getting to and from the Cairngorm Lodge SYHA hostel.
Until this bus service became known to me, the idea of savouring the Southern Upland Way or other walks around Wanlockhead did not look as straightforward, given that a walk from Sanquhar’s train station was involved. While the buses travel Monday to Saturday only and the frequency has its irregularities, more walking possibilities open up for anyone wishing to venture away from more popular destinations. A good stretch of the day is covered too, from early morning to early evening as it happens. There are six departures each way, too, with Wanlockhead not being reached by the penultimate return trip of the day. More typically, departure times are two to three hours apart, so some planning is needed, though the timetable remains very workable.
The seven-day portion of this service is the section between Grantown and Aviemore, since the Inverness to Grantown section is a Monday to Saturday operation. On Sundays, there four journeys in each direction, with a greater frequency approaching hourly on other days of the week. This is not a clock-face style timetable, so it needs attention to ensure that you can travel near enough to when you need.
This service is handy for getting you to the foot of the Ochil Hills, which is why it appears here, since it allowed me to potter about them during a stay in Stirling. The frequency is hourly on Sundays and is nearly half-hourly on other days of the week. The service is operated on an early-to-late basis as well, so you can enjoy a long day walk in some alluring surroundings.
There was a time when I thought that bus services to Callander were infrequent, but a look at the latest timetable dispelled that notion. On Sundays, the service frequency is around two-hourly and covers the day from morning until early evening. The offering is better on other days of the week, with early morning to mid-evening coverage of the day and a near hourly service frequency. My interest in Callander is piqued by its position on or near the Highland Boundary Fault and the proximity of some picturesque hill country in the vicinity of the Trossachs. That, and a recent trip there, assures the route’s appearance here.
Between this service and the X95, Selkirk is well-connected to both Melrose and Galashiels. Service frequency is hourly from Monday to Saturday and two-hourly on Sundays when hours of operation are more restricted. Given how pleasant this part of the world is, any additional travel option will have its uses.
Both of these are useful services for getting elsewhere from Peebles, and the reason for having them here is that I needed to use one of them to get back from Broughton after completing the John Buchan Way. Service 91 also has a use if you need to break the walk-up at Stobo, and service 93 only adds Broughton to some of its journeys from Monday to Friday. In any event, there is no Sunday service and the timings mean that attention to the timetable is needed. Still, the service level is enough to make these usable.
For getting away from Kirk Yetholm after completing the Pennine Way or getting there to start it in the opposite direction, this looks like a good bet so long as you are not travelling on Sundays when it might be a case of following the Borders Abbeys Way or the road to Kelso.
In an area not well-endowed with frequent public transport connections, this is a useful addition. It may not run on Sundays and the times may be set up better for locals heading out for a shopping trip, but it does remain useful, particularly for returning you to civilisation after walking through the enticing countryside hereabouts.
My walking of the southernmost sections of the West Highland Way and the Rob Roy Way in 2007 had me using this bus service, and it is McColl’s Travel that operates it on behalf of SPT. The frequency mostly is one bus every ninety minutes and coverage of the day extends from morning until night, with a later start on Sundays. The stopping point in Drymen may depend on whether the bus is going to or coming from Balmaha, but that’s a minor matter compared to not having such a service at all, and it does connect with trains at Alexandria as well.
All of these will get you around the island of Arran, and some can be stitched together to go right around it by bus for a handy introduction to the place. Some services get a decent number of daily departures too, which helps.
What brought this bus service to my notice is its calling point of Glentrool village. The Southern Upland Way passes near here and there are other nearby walking possibilities like Glentrool Forest Park and the Merrick. There is no Sunday service, but a nearly two-hourly timetable has to have its uses on other days, so long as you keep your eye on the service timings. Connections to Ayr and Glasgow are included in the timetable for those needing them, but it is access to a place in the heart of some good walking country that caught my interest while reading Phoebe Smith’s Wilderness Weekends.
This merits a mention because of the Cowal Way and then there’s the ferry across to Tarbert on Kintyre too. However, timings are dependent on the day of travel and, like other services in Cowal, there’s no Sunday service either with changes at Auchenbreck being another feature of the timetable. All of this makes using the service for a day trip tricky, but it could have its uses on a multi-day trek, so long as you plan around the eccentricities of the timetable. It’s probably best to keep the idea of crossing the sea to Tarbert as an option, in case you need it.
While it’s not a city, Dunoon is strung out for a few miles along the coast, so a bus service like this is invaluable when it comes to getting about. For one thing, it links two ferry ports along with areas like Upper Kirn and Milton. The service may only operate during the daytime from Monday to Saturday, but the half-hourly frequency is very useful for those with luggage.
For exploring Cowal, these look invaluable, so long as you are not wanting to do it on Sundays when they don’t run. Services are not that infrequent either, and they do meet ferries from Gourock as well. Furthermore, the Inveraray service will connect with Citylink coaches to Oban and Campbeltown and offers another option for those coming from Glasgow, even if the train/ferry combination seems more sensible.
This may not take you past so many hills, but a short crossing of Mull from Salen will most of the walk into them. It certainly came in handy for me when exploring the other side of the hills lining the northern side of Glen More.
If my memory isn’t failing me, this does pass through some delectable countryside. When I used it, I was on a Calmac tour to Iona with my brother and the wet, murky day was far from conducive to admiring the surroundings. The timings may not be perfect, but they still might have their uses when exploring Mull.
520: Castle Douglas - New Galloway - Dalmellington
521: Castle Douglas - Laurieston - New Galloway - Dumfries
My reason for including the two of these is that they both serve St. John’s Town of Dalry (as it is called on Ordnance Survey maps) and the Southern Upland Way passes near there. Service 520 is the more regular, with service 521 only having at least one return journey every day of the week apart from Sunday when there are none on either route. Still, the latter offers usable connections with Dumfries where there are regular connections with other parts of Britain, while the former meets with connecting bus services for Ayr. In addition, there are additional services on Wednesdays and Saturdays, so added care with this timetable pays its dividends.
It was when I was pondering a weekend in Aberdeen that involved flying there from Manchester that this regular seven-day-a-week service came to my notice. Frequencies vary from half-hourly to six departures per hour, depending on the time of day and the day of the week. It operates from very early in the morning until late at night, so every day gets excellent coverage.
Given the fine hill country that surrounds it, Kinlochleven is undeservedly bereft of the attention that is lavished on Fort William. However, if a quieter high calibre hill day is your thing, then there are few better places to go and this service means that you don’t need a car either. The frequency is respectable, with it being as good as two-hourly on weekdays and four journeys each way on Sundays. That makes day trips there more workable than some parts of the Scottish Highlands, and the views out the bus windows along the way are hard to beat if you have weather that enlivens them.
These are handy services because they connect parts of Scotland that I once believed were not so accessible. One is Aberfoyle, which can be reached from Glasgow or Stirling using the nearly two-hourly X10A six days a week (not Sundays). That there is mostly a two-hourly frequency from morning until early evening also helps.
While following the route of the West Highland Way between Milngavie and Drymen in February 2007, I passed the Campsie Fells while such places as Balfron, Killearn and Strathblane were not far away either. All of these are reachable using the X10 and the X10A, which also helps with ideas of exploring the Campsie Fells. That can happen every day of the week with the X10, with its largely two-hourly frequency that complements the X10A one.
Since the advent of the Welsh Assembly in Cardiff Bay, there seems to have been a willingness to plug gaps in the Welsh railway network through the development of a network of interurban services under the TrawsCymru brand. The routes are not operated with coaches as in other places but with low floor buses. Though growing in number, these are not the only trunk services, so others are to be found here too. Hopefully, more will join them.
5/5C/5D/X5: Llandudno - Bangor - Caernarfon
On Sundays, the service frequency may be hourly, but it is impressively more regular for this North Wales coastal bus service. Apart from the Bangor-Caernarfon leg, it shadows the railway for much of its route too. Saying that, you have more of a chance of getting a regular service from places like Llanfairfechan and Penmaenmawr if you make use of the bus option. For some reason, I have yet to do exactly that, and I cannot pin down exactly why. In my case, it has been travelling between Bangor and Caernarfon that has been the cause of my using it in the past.
12/X12: Rhyl - Abergele - Old Colwyn - Colwyn Bay - Penrhyn Bay - Llandudno
Recent experiences of overcrowding on trains running in North Wales have had me wondering about alternatives, and this service could be part of that. The Sunday frequency is half-hourly, but this increases to five buses an hour for much of the day on other days of the week. In short, this is a frequent service and has a total journey time of less than ninety minutes.
The lower Conwy Valley may not strike you as a place from which to enter open hill country, but you’d be very wrong. Places like Dolgarrog and Tal-y-Bont are useful starting points for hikes towards the Carneddau and other hills, once you haul yourself up the steep wooded slopes for the first 200 metres or so of height. Being able to catch these buses from Llandudno Junction station means that train travellers can use them too. All that’s needed is to keep an eye on timetables for any eccentricities.
This is the replacement for the erstwhile X32 that once was operated exclusively by Arriva. The Monday to Saturday frequency is down from what it was but the Sunday and bank holiday service offering remains largely as it was before though. This is another part of the TrawsCymru network that has yet to reach its full potential, though vehicles were well-used when I last tried it.
Now replicating a journey that was once possible by rail, this useful bus route is one that I have travelled quite a few times. Once, it was numbered X94 and has been in the hands of several operators of the years. After Arriva closed its Dolgellau depot, the route fell to GHA until its collapse and Lloyds Coaches are now involved in its operation.
One year during the Arriva days, the Monday to Saturday service frequency became hourly. However, demand appears not to have matched this since it was reduced. Consequently, you need to keep an eye on the timetable nowadays. That especially applies to the Sunday service since there are five each way journeys a day. For all its travails, this TrawsCymru route remains, and it serves places that otherwise would be disconnected.
That the countryside appeals to walkers adds to the appeal of the area and Barmouth is a seaside resort too. That would explain how I travelled on a full bus from Wrexham to Dolgellau where a throng awaited an already busy bus on what was a hot sunny day. Many may have been escaping scorching inland temperatures, by the looks of things.
This started out in life as the 704 between Newtown and Brecon but the T4 replaced it and extended the route south as far as Merthyr Tydfil and Cardiff to replace the now withdrawn 470. The frequency of the Monday to Saturday service is somewhere between hourly and two-hourly depending on the time of day and where you need to go. The Sunday service is even less frequent with the southern terminus being Merthyr Tydfil instead of Cardiff. Nevertheless, the timings are useful and Stagecoach appears to have done a good job on a seemingly unpromising TrawsCymru route.
This route recalls a journey I undertook on the way back from Pembrokeshire after an elongated weekend there in June 2006. Then, you needed to use two bus services with the 412 running between Haverfordwest and Cardigan. The T5 replaces this and offers Sunday journeys during the summer season alongside its year-round Monday to Saturday hourly services. This addition to the Trawscymru network in 2014 gets folk to parts of coastal Pembrokeshire, thus earning its place here.
This is a newer part of the TrawsCymru network that replaces the preceding X63 and X64, and it operates seven days a week too, not a feature of what came before it. It also serves the western reaches of the Brecon Beacons National Park and there are early evening journeys allow days of decent length around the Fforest Fawr. The Sunday service level offers at least five each way journeys and the frequency is nearly hourly on other days of the week too.
Usefully for a bus service that gets you to the Ogwen Valley, this route has Bangor’s train station as one of its termini, so you can use it for onward travel. There are other connections with bus routes T3 and T8 at Corwen, which make it even more useful. Seven-day service is available even if the Sunday frequency is four-hourly over the part of the route between Betws-y-Coed and Corwen. Otherwise, the service frequency is next to two-hourly, and that applies to the whole route from Monday to Saturday.
Between Merthyr Tydfil and Cardiff, this combines with the T4 to offer a more frequent service from Monday to Saturday with up to four bus journeys each way per hour. The full route sees a lesser service with six journeys in each direction a day and the section between Abergavenny and Brynmawr gets an hourly service while Brynmawr to Cardiff gets a half-hourly one. With all the differential frequencies, you would wonder how the route is managed, but Stagecoach must make a go of it, or it wouldn’t be operating it otherwise. There is, however, no Sunday or bank holiday service as I can see.
The old X43 that linked Cardiff, Merthyr Tydfil and Brecon seven days a week with extensions to Abergavenny on every day apart from Sunday is no more. The new shortened X43 is operated by Stagecoach under the Trawscymru Connect brand of the Welsh Assembly Government. Service frequencies aren’t shoddy either though it’s only a Monday to Saturday service now.
Rhayader’s proximity to the man-altered Elan Valley was what first drew my attention to the place and, given my liking for wilder spots, that may appear strange but some of mankind’s constructions can blend with the landscape. Its proximity to Llandrindod Wells on the Cambrian railway line makes a visit possible with the help of this bus service. Like many in the area, it is a Monday to Saturday affair and offers a largely two-hourly timetable from early morning until early evening.
This service gives a decent travel option for anyone wishing to get around northeast Wales. Frequencies on Sundays and bank holidays may be much less than those on other days of the week, but they remain useful with a largely hourly daytime service. What interests me about the route is the access that they could offer to quality walking country. For instance, Llandegla is on the Offa’s Dyke Path national trail and I would like to walk north from there into the Clwydian Range sometime.
In some parts of the principality, the Welsh seem to be good users of buses generally and that ensures a none too shabby set of useful services. There are a few local services collected here but there are many more than this, so I have got some more collecting to be doing. As well as additions, I also hope to keep what’s here as up to date as I can. If there are any oversights, please do send me a message, and I’ll be happy to fix them.
Each of these services has a use for exploring the hills west of Betws Garmon such as Mynydd Mawr, Mynydd Tryfan and the Nantlle ridge. Only the 1N is a seven-day service while 1F operates from Monday to Saturday. Near two-hourly service frequencies are offered with these so you check timetables before you go travelling.
Now deprived of a connection to the National Rail network, a regular bus service is what performs sterling service in getting folk between Wrexham and the alluring place that is Llangollen. Seeing a weekday service level of up to every 30 minutes does make you wonder if it was a hasty folly to have removed that railway in the first place, especially with a heritage railway extending west from Llangollen as well. Since I have heard some rumblings regarding the restoration of a link with the national rail network, it is best never to discount what folk might be thinking and planning. In the meantime, this bus service does much of the needful for public transport users.
These services will get you near some hills on the Llŷn peninsula that are worth walking and that is why they are listed here. It is service 12 that is the more frequent with a near hourly Monday to Saturday frequency and four journeys on a Sunday. The less frequent service 27 runs from Monday to Saturday only with Lliwthfaen being closer to Yr Eifl than Llanaelhaearn, the nearest calling point on service 12.
Four former spa towns in mid-Wales are served by this Monday to Saturday bus service. Brecon becomes a possibility because of connections with route T4 and both its timings are summarised in this timetable. Daytime service frequency is up to two hourly with an early evening finish, so you need to keep an eye on those bus times when travelling around.
The Gwynedd Council timetable is no more, so I have added links to other timetables instead. There used to be numerous services between Bangor and Anglesey, so the apparent consolidation makes things simpler, even if the information is less easy to find these days.
It may look down at heel in parts and there is a quarry in its vicinity, but Bethesda is another good and less than obvious access point for Welsh hills. It is also well-connected to nearby Bangor by bus for those arriving by train, even if there is a ten-minute trot required to get you from the train station to the bus station.
Exploring the lower reaches of the Wye Valley has taken my fancy and this might be a useful bus service for doing just that. Service frequencies are around two-hourly on Saturdays but are hourly on other days of the week. The times of first and last journeys vary too, so it is best to consult timetables carefully if you are not to get stranded, especially if a longer day walk is planned.
Gwynfor Coaches operate this service seven days a week to an hourly timetable that operates from early morning until early evening. The service comes in very handy with Llanberis being at the foot of Snowdon (or Yr Wyddfa in Welsh). That hopefully means that any pressure on car parking can be alleviated, and forms part of the Sherpa’r Wyddfa (Snowdon Sherpa) network.
S2: Llanberis - Deiniolen - Ysbyty Gwynedd - Bangor
Another part of the Sherpa’r Wyddfa network operated by Gwynfor coaches, this route has its uses for hill country lovers since it is possible to travel from outside Bangor’s train station to Llanberis without a change of bus in Caernarfon. After that, adventures can commence. It is a seven-day service with some variations to timings between weekday and weekend operations. Otherwise, it runs from morning until early evening.
Within the United Kingdom, some bus services journey from one home nation to another and that is what you get collected here. The list began with crossings between England and Wales but those between England and Scotland are gaining representation now. It clearly remains far from exhaustive, so candidates for inclusion continue to come to my notice, thus ensuring that this selection continues to grow.
Between England & Wales
1: Wrexham - Chester
This service goes to show that Arriva does expand in some places with Sunday frequency having become half-hourly for much of the day rather than hourly all day as it was before. The story gets even better on weekdays with up to five services an hour. Trains are hourly if you are lucky, so I suppose that’s what helps a bus service to succeed like this one seems to have done.
It is odd that Oswestry now enjoys seven day connectivity with Wrexham and only six days of service with Shrewsbury. On Sundays, the service frequency is hourly and the time of operation extends from morning until mid/late afternoon. Services 2 and 2A combine to provide a half-hourly service frequency for much of the day on other days of the weekend. Cefn Mawr gets half-hourly service on route 2C with all weekday operations covering the day from early until late on all routes.
Between all of these bus services, there should be plenty of ways to get between Chester and Mold every day of the week. Of the lot, only service 4S operates on Sundays but still has a respectable frequency and excellent coverage of the day. The others are Monday to Saturday operations that make getting between the two termini and anywhere along the route a facile operation.
It is my understanding that it once was possible to travel from Chester to Rhyl using a single bus journey, even if that may be a case of my memory fooling me. Nevertheless, a change of bus is now needed to do the same journey. With the total journey length being more than two hours, travelling by train is faster, but recent experiences of overcrowding on Sundays are such that going slower and more comfortably has its appeal.
Coverage of the day extends from early morning to late at night and service frequencies are respectable too, extending from half-hourly to two-hourly depending on the time of day and the day of the week. That these are seven-day services is another asset in an age when Sunday bus services are much curtailed.
It seems that Monmouth is well-connected with other places by bus and that is just as well since it is near an attractive part of the Welsh River Wye. Chepstow and Abergavenny are other places with useful rail connections, but Hereford is just as good since service 36 originates from there. It is a Monday to Saturday operation with a near two-hourly timetable. However, the last departure is earlier in the day than might be ideal so noting services 69 (Chepstow) and 83 (Abergavenny) would be prudent if you are planning a day trip.
This service just about edges over the English border into Herefordshire and I almost thought of it as wholly Welsh. Realising my error, the Monday to Saturday service finds its way onto this list instead. Though a lot more standardised than it once was, the timetable still needs some careful study because stops can differ between journeys. Still, its coverage of the day from early morning to early evening makes it invaluable in a part of Wales that is less well served by public transport.
Being a National Express coach service, this is a limited-stop affair though it does a useful thing in passing through the heart of Wales. The one journey each way every day connects lesser-known places like Ponterwyd, Llangurig and Llanidloes with larger spots across Wales and England. Anything that has a use in getting outside visitors to and from a quieter part of Wales has to be good.
461: Llandrindod Wells - New Radnor - Kington - Hereford
Kington is another of those border towns on the course of Offa’s Dyke Path National Trail so here’s a way to get there by public transport. It’s a Monday to Saturday service like many in Herefordshire and Powys, but there’s a largely hourly frequency for much of the day too.
It is Knighton’s position on Offa’s Dyke Path National Trail that makes the place of interest but Ludlow’s not an unpretty spot either, and it is one of Simon Jenkins’ best views in England too. This bus service is a Monday to Saturday operation with four journeys in each direction. Looking at the timetable may lure you into thinking there are more than these because of several deviations that are Thursday only for some reason. On all days of the week, the service timings are useful too and compare well with the eccentricities of those on the Heart of Wales line.
Of these, the T14 covers the Monday to Saturday service between Brecon and Hereford while the 39A does the same on Sundays and public holidays. There are three each-way journeys on Sundays and public holidays and service frequency is more than double that on other days.
This Monday to Saturday service offers a handy if not so fast way to get from Shrewsbury into the heart of Wales. A change in Llangurig allows for onward travel to Aberystwyth, Llandrindod Wells and Rhayader. Llanidloes is served too, and the Cambrian railway line appears to be shadowed between Caersws and Shrewsbury with Newtown and Welshpool also being ports of call. Usefully, the service frequency largely is two-hourly with much of the day between 06:00 and 20:00 being covered.
There has been only one occasion when I made use of this service and that was to return from Galashiels to Berwick-upon-Tweed after a weekend spent in the Scottish Borders that had me going around via the East Coast Mainline by rail. The quietness of the areas that it serves was marked compared to the relatively busier places that the equivalent 67 passes on its route. Then, the operator was First, but the bus was smart and clean and wasn’t unused either. Nowadays, it is in the hands of Borders Buses and the frequency is largely two-hourly on all days of the week and seems to shadow service 67 to provide cross-border bus connections nearly on an hourly basis.
This service featured on one of my cross-border excursions from England to Scotland when Munros of Jedburgh still operated the route. These days, it’s Borders Buses that run it and the frequency is as good as two-hourly on all days of the week too. On my most recent use of the service in July 2011, it was better used in Scotland than in England and there was a sharp drop-off before crossing over into Northumberland on the return journey too. That observation says a lot about Scottish and English public transport usage. That there are connections with services to Edinburgh at St Boswell’s probably helps too.
There was a time when there was a rail link between Carlisle and Edinburgh that passed right through the Scottish Borders, but that is now no more, though there has been a restoration between Edinburgh and Galashiels. It is when you see three and a half hour journey times you realise the usefulness of trains for getting to places such as Langholm, Hawick, Selkirk and Galashiels. That hill country surrounds each of these is what gets the service included here. So many pass the Southern Uplands en route to elsewhere and that’s a pity so any route that brings you near the heart of such untended action only can be a good thing.
Recently, I had a journey with EMR go wrong because of a train breakdown. Only shortly beyond Sheffield station, we had to turn back, and the journey was delayed by around an hour. When I came to claim compensation for the delay, the process was straightforward thanks to having PDF copies of the tickets. It also was very prompt with the money going back into my PayPal account. Though the journey had not been the best, the customer service afterwards cannot be faulted.
20:33, December 4, 2023
The RMT dispute with the English train operators has ended while other negotiations continue. The legislation for minimum service levels is coming into effect too. However, the ongoing ASLEF actions continue and more could follow. How things will look around Christmas and New Year remains to be seen. There is more hope than this time year, though.