Wednesday, 28 August 2013

599: Bowness - Grasmere

They don't come much more scenic than this: an open-top bus ride through the heart of the Lake District, England's most beautiful corner. This is no ordinary Stagecoach route. Discover the 599...

Click here to discover other bus routes in the North West.


Bowness on Lake Windermere, England's largest, is an easily accessible delight. Things to do include a cruise on the lake, from the pier where the 599 termintates. If you'd rather not venture out onto the water, how about Blackwell Arts & Craft House?

Or if visiting with the kids, you could do worse than take them to the World of Beatrix Potter.

The 599 leaves from this stop at the pier:


Windermere the town is a short distance away from Windermere the lake. It was originally called Birthwaite until the railway arrived and the station took the name of the lake in order to entice tourists in. Soon after, the town followed suit.

If arriving by train, this is your gateway to the Lake District. As pretty as the town is, there's so much more to see, so don't hang about here. The 599 stops right outside the railway station, next to the Booths supermarket.

The railway station entrance, bus stop and supermarket entrance are round the back of Booths. I can't think of a classier supermarket to wait behind.


After riding alongside the lake for a bit, the 599 brings us to the beautiful village of Ambleside. While here, why not stop for a pint at the Golden Rule, one of the best pubs in the village? You've not got to drive back, after all.

If you fancy a stroll up to a waterfall, head for nearby Stock Ghyll Force. Ambleside is of course a great base for longer walks, many books of which are available.

The 599 stops here, on Kelsick Road, by the library in both directions:


Rydal is a tiny village, but not too tiny for poet William Wordsworth, who lived here at Rydal Mount, which you can visit. It's just a short walk up the private road from this bus stop on the main road, at Rydal Church:

This is the southbound stop. Northbound buses stop at the lay-by opposite.


A bit further on, the 599 terminates at Grasmere, another great starting point for a hike. Here you'll find St Oswald's Church, in the churchyard of which you can find the tomb of William and Mary Wordsworth. Another of his homes, Dove Cottage, is nearby, as is the Grasmere & Wordsworth Museum.

The 599 runs to and from this stop, on Broadgate in the village centre:


See the full timetable on Stagecoach's website here.

Here are the live scheduled departure boards for the stops towards Grasmere:

...and back towards Bowness:


Map of the 599 and connecting routes. Not to scale. All routes on this map are operated by Stagecoach and are valid for travel with a North West Explorer ticket.

See a map of all Stagecoach routes in the Lake District here.
For all routes of all operators in the whole of Cumbria, look here.
Timetables for all buses in Cumbria can be found here.

From Bowness, connect with Stagecoach 6 to Barrow-in-Furness.

At Windermere railway station, there is a regular rail service to Oxenholme Lake District on the West Coast Main Line, plus a few through trains per day to Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Airport. Click for timetable, live departures, departure list, fares.

Also from Windermere station, you can connect to Stagecoach 555 towards Lancaster via Kendal. At weekends, you can also catch Stagecoach 508 to Penrith via Glenridding and Ullswater.

Change at Ambleside for Stagecoach 505 to Coniston or 516 to Dungeon Ghyll in Langdale.

From Grasmere, you can continue north to Keswick on Stagecoach 555.


The whole of routes 505, 516 and 599 are covered by Stagecoach's Central Lakes Dayrider at £7.00

A family ticket is valid for up to 2 adults and 3 children. A group ticket is valid for up to 5 people travelling together.

The Explorer ticket at £10.30 is valid over a wider area: on all Stagecoach buses in Cumbria and Lancashire, plus routes stretching to Bolton, Wigan, Liverpool, Dumfries and Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

If arriving at Windermere by train, you can buy a Windermere Plusbus with your train ticket. It is only valid for travel along the 599 route, although you can use other services like the 555 to make the journey, as long as you don't travel beyond where the 599 goes. It costs £7.00 for an adult, but Railcard discounts are available.


Between Windermere and Grasmere, the 555 runs all year round to the same route as the 599, but not with open top buses.

Between Windermere and Ambleside, you also have routes 505 and 516.

All bus routes mentioned on this page are operated by Stagecoach.

All of the information in this post is correct at the time of writing, but please check the relevant links before travelling.

Monday, 26 August 2013

X52-X54: Poole - Exeter

Not many bus routes can truly be described as epic, but First X52-X54 definitely can. They run the full length of the Jurassic Coast. Few bus routes have as much to offer as this. There is so much to see, so let's get cracking! Click here to discover other bus routes across the South West. Please note that when this was originally written, it was just one route throughout, but now it's been split into three. This page still covers the full route but has been updated to reflect the fact that it now has three route numbers.


Our starting point is the junior partner in the Bournemouth/Poole conurbation. There's lots to do in Poole, including a visit to Compton Acres, beautiful gardens a short ride on More 60 away.

Or right in the heart of the town is Poole Museum. Back at the bus station, the X54 departs from stand M.

For a map of the route between Poole and Lyme Regis, see the Dorset County Bus Map.


Wareham is the birthplace of David Mellor and appropriately situated on the River Piddle. The X54 in both directions stops on this roundabout right next to the railway station:

Things to do in Wareham include a meal at the town's top-rated restaurant, Steak-A-Saurus

 ...a short walk from the X54's stop on North Street in the town centre.


Just outside Wool is Monkey World, which you could easily spend a whole day looking round. The X54 stops at Wool railway station from where you are a 1.5 mile taxi ride from the park.

This stop at Wool station is served by the X54 in both directions.


Host of sailing events at the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics, beautiful Weymouth is probably the most charming seaside resort that is within day trip distance of London.

Dorset v Spain: It's a tough call.

Weymouth's attractions include not one but two beaches, plus Nothe Fort which used to guard Weymouth's harbour and Sandworld, an exhibition of amazingly created sand sculptures. If staying the night in Weymouth, then I can highly recommend The George Hotel, a converted Victorian vicarage run by a very friendly and helpful mother and son.

Most buses in Weymouth stop at one of the stops surrounding the King's Statue on the waterfront. To travel westbound on the X53, use stop K6, or stop K5 to go eastbound on the X54.


Abbotsbury is known for its Subtropical Gardens and Swannery. Here's where the X53 stops, a short walk from the attractions by the Ilchester Arms:


Best known for rope and nets (as in goal or tennis nets), Bridport is worth stopping off at to see Palmers, the UK's only thatched brewery. The X52 to Exeter and the X53 to Weymouth both stop at the coach station:

The X53 also passes through nearby West Bay, where you can find Sladers Yard art gallery.


In this small village, the bus stops outside Moores Biscuit Bakery, home of the Dorset Knob.


The Heritage Coast Centre is a definite highlight of Charmouth.

Lyme Regis

Legendary Lyme Regis is the fossil capital of the UK. The Lyme Regis Museum will tell you all about the local area. Don't miss Town Mill, a working water mill brimming with history and great food.

The westbound X52 stops here at The Square:

Eastbound buses stop just up the hill outside the Co-op:


See a bus map of Axminster here.


Seaton is best known for its heritage tramway. The X52 stops at the foreground stop towards Bridport and where the bus is in this picture towards Exeter:

See the Seaton Bus Map here and an interactive map of all buses in Devon here.


At nearby Beer, the Quarry Caves and Pecorama are well worth seeing.


Devon's county town, Exeter is one of the oldest cities in Britain, having been inhabited since before the Romans. Be sure to visit the stunning cathedral, just a short walk from the bus station. Also worth seeing are the Royal Albert Memorial Museum and the medieval Underground Passages.

The X52 leaves from bay 14 at Exeter Bus Station:


You can find the full timetable for the X53 at the following locations:

Here are the links to the live scheduled departure lists for major stops heading towards Exeter:

...and back towards Poole:


From Poole Bus Station, major destinations and routes with More are Blandford X8, Ringwood X6, Bournemouth M1/M2, Sandbanks 52.

The X54 stops right outside Poole Railway Station, which is on the main line to Bournemouth, Southampton, Basingstoke and London Waterloo. Click for live departures, departure list, fares.

Wareham Railway Station is also served by the X54. Click for live departures, departure list, fares.
Change here also for the More 40 bus to Corfe Castle and Swanage.

Change at Wool Railway Station for trains: live departures, departure list, fares.

At Weymouth, King's Statue, you can catch the following connecting buses operated by First: 10 to Dorchester, 31 to Bridport & Lyme Regis via Dorchester, 1 to Portland.

Nearby, Weymouth Railway Station has direct trains back to Poole and on to Southampton and London Waterloo plus heading north to Bath and Bristol. Click for live departures, departure list, fares.

From Bridport, you can connect for the following destinations and bus routes: 47 to Crewkerne and Yeovil (operated by First Mon-Sats and Damory on Sundays).

From Lyme Regis, you can connect with route X51/X53 to Axminster Railway Station, with direct trains between London Waterloo and Exeter.

At Seaton, connect with Axe Valley 885 to Axminster or Stagecoach 20 to Taunton via Honiton.

At Sidford, connect to Stagecoach 52A/52B to Sidmouth and the 52B the other way to Honiton,

Change at Newton Poppleford for Stagecoach 157 to Exmouth.

Exeter Bus Station has the following major destinations and routes to connect to: Newton Abbot 2 & 39, Plymouth X38, Honiton 4/4A, Axminster 4, Tiverton 1/1A & 55/55A/55B/155, Barnstaple 155, Bude 599 & X9, Paignton X46, Totnes X64. Devon County Council's interactive bus map (one of the best in the country) makes it easy to see which bus goes where in Devon and to find the timetables

Exeter Central railway station is a short walk from the bus station. Click for live departures, departure list, fares. More trains, including those towards Plymouth and Cornwall or up to Bristol and London Paddington, stop at St Davids, which is a bit further out. Catch a train there from Exeter Central or use Stagecoach route H from the city centre.


The cheapest ticket which is valid throughout route X52-X54 is the FirstDay West of England Plus at £10. It's also valid on all connecting services operated by First.

If connecting to or from buses operated by More/Damory, Axe Valley or Stagecoach, check their websites for ticket details.


Parts of the X52-X54's route can be covered by other bus routes or even by train. Here's a summary of the routes and costs:

  • Poole-Wareham-Wool-Weymouth: South West Trains. Single £12.80, off-peak day return £13.10
  • Weymouth-Bridport-Lyme Regis: First 31. FirstDay Explorer valid
  • Seaton-Exeter: Stagecoach 9A. Stagecoach Explorer £7.50

All of the information in this post is correct at the time of writing, but please check the relevant links before travelling.