‘Top deck advised’: readers’ favourite scenic UK bus rides | Public transport trips


Spot the heron from the 55, Tiverton-Exeter

The very best bus route is Tiverton to Exeter on the 55. On leaving Tiverton it passes through the village of Bickleigh and crosses the River Exe on the Bickleigh Bridge, which has been hit and damaged by buses, lorries and cars more times than I can count. From the bridge, though, there is an amazing view both ways up and down the river and to the right are the “rapids” and the Fisherman’s Cott pub, and often the resident heron standing in the shallows looking for his lunch. Then the road follows the valley, with great views of the Devon countryside until it reaches Stoke Canon and another bridge. Then it’s on to the outskirts of Exeter and into the city centre. The whole journey takes about 90 minutes.
Lesley Carr

Pure theatre, the 555 from Lancaster to Keswick

The 555 braves Dunmail Raise in winter.
The 555 braves Dunmail Raise in winter. Photograph: Ashley Cooper/Alamy

The first part of the 555’s three-hour route takes you from Lancaster through the scenic villages of Burton, Holme and Milnthorpe – a pleasant enough country route – but it’s the second part of the journey, between Kendal and Keswick, which is truly spectacular. Make sure that you’re on the upper deck for stunning views over Windermere, Rydal Water and Grasmere before the bus climbs up Dunmail Raise and then passes between the mighty Helvellyn and Thirlmere before descending to Keswick. Not many bus routes have had a play written about them, but Ladies That Bus (performed at the Dukes Theatre, Lancaster in 2020-21) was all about people who make this wonderful journey.
Graham Dean

Seaside and steel from the X4, Middlesbrough-Whitby

Saltburn, North Yorkshire.
Saltburn, North Yorkshire. Photograph: Peter Jordan_NE/Alamy

The X4 from Middlesbrough to Whitby takes in a wide variety of dramatic scenery. It passes through the industrial heritage of Middlesbrough, with great views of the Tees transporter bridge and motors on towards the steel heritage of Redcar (see the remnants while you still can). The journey takes you through the picturesque bohemian seaside town of Saltburn, with its 19th-century funicular, before entering the North York Moors national park. The fishing villages of Staithes and Runswick Bay are postcard-pretty regardless of the season and the approach to Whitby follows a beautiful coast road. The journey lasts nearly two hours but will pass by in a flash.
Mike L

Pub heaven from the 376, Bristol to Street, Somerset

Glastonbury Tor, as not seen from the windows of the 376.
Glastonbury Tor can be seen from the route of the 376 bus – although not as closely as this! Photograph: robertharding/Alamy

The 376 Mendip Explorer runs from Bristol to Street, taking about two hours. You pass through undulating valleys and pub-heaven villages such as Pensford and Temple Cloud, but just wait till you wind down towards Wells and catch sight of Glastonbury Tor, maybe floating above the clouds, maybe mirrored by flooded levels in the morning sun. Stop in Wells for coffee at Loaf, or carry on to Glastonbury and have breakfast at Cafe Zero, the cosiest in town. Catch the loop back at your leisure. Top deck advised.
Eleanor Willock

Sweeping beauty on the T4, Cardiff-Brecon

Pen y Fan
The peaks Pen y Fan (right) and Cribyn can be viewed from the T4 as it passes near Brecon. Photograph: Huw Fairclough/Getty Images

The T4 from Cardiff to Brecon (the bus actually goes all the way to Newtown in mid-Wales) is a lovely introduction to this beautiful region. As you leave Cardiff you catch a glimpse of the majestic Cardiff Castle walls and the Principality stadium. The bus ambles through sleepy Pontypridd, with the beautiful River Taf. As you approach Brecon you pass the sweeping dramatic beauty of Pen y Fan, the highest peak in southern Britain. It was my first visit to Brecon and the bus journey gave me a snapshot of the beautiful hills and walks to come on what was a lovely holiday. The 90-minute journey is a convenient and scenic way to travel to Brecon from Cardiff.

Peak District panoramas from the 65, Sheffield-Buxton

John Young peak district bus
The 65 passes through a Peak District hamlet. Photograph: John Young

Stagecoach bus 65 runs from Sheffield to Buxton through the heart of the Peak District. Although popular with walkers, it’s a bit of a well-kept secret. Once the city is left behind, look forward to stunning views of rolling countryside and delightful villages, including the plague village of Eyam. The bus also passes through Tideswell, with views of St John the Baptist church, known as the “cathedral of the Peak” and Miller’s Dale, where you can walk over the viaduct that once carried express trains from Manchester to London. After two hours the bus ends in Buxton, the highest market town in England, with plenty of options for refreshment.
John Young


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‘I loved driving the 47 through London’

Tower Bridge
Bus driver Steven Shave always looked out for Tower Bridge at night. Photograph: Ivan Atanasov/Alamy

I think the best picturesque route I have been on and driven myself as a bus driver is the 47 route going past Tower Bridge and London Bridge, two of the most iconic sights in London and fantastic when lit up at night. They are so beautiful; it was a pleasure driving that route.
Steven Shave

Mountains and the sea from the T3, Wrexham-Barmouth

Barmouth town and harbour viewed from Dinas Oleu.
Barmouth town and harbour viewed from Dinas Oleu on a popular walk above the coastal town. Photograph: John Miller/National Trust

Catch TrawsCymru’s T3 in Wrexham bus station, admiring Cae Ras (The Racecourse Ground) football stadium as you pass. The bus takes you all the way to the seaside at Barmouth, passing Corwen, seat of Owain Glyndŵr, last native-born Prince of Wales, and Bala Lake, home of Wales’s answer to the Loch Ness monster, Tegi. It stops briefly in stately Dolgellau before powering past Cadair Idris, southern Snowdonia’s highest peak. At your destination, enjoy fish and chips and take in the sea views and air. The whole trip takes about 2½ hours.
Fiona Collins

Dales delight, 72 Skipton-Grassington, North Yorkshire

A stop in Grassington.
A bus stops in Grassington. Photograph: Mike Kipling/Alamy

The 72 bus from Skipton to Grassington takes you on a short (30-minute) tour into the heart of the Dales. Enjoyed best on a sunny day, it travels through charming villages and past fields brimming with sheep before arriving at the beautiful village of Grassington. I was lucky to get this bus almost every day when I was living in Yorkshire and find myself missing it – my new bus route only takes me through drab industrial parks near Newcastle.

Winning tip
No. 70 to Cornwall’s forgotten corner, Plymouth-Cremyll

Whitsand Bay near Cremyll.
Whitsand Bay near Cremyll. Photograph: Andrew Ray/Alamy

Plymouth City bus 70 from the city centre to Cremyll is a cracker. Yes, this bus (entire route takes just shy of two hours) goes through Plymouth, but once it disembarks the Torpoint ferry, it rambles through the countryside of Cornwall’s forgotten corner: the Rame peninsula, past fields of sheep before the showstopper of the ride: Whitsand Bay, where it follows the clifftop road with views over the sea and the glorious sands below. Stunning.
Sarah McLellan

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