‘Top Deck Recommended’: Readers’ Favorite Scenic Rides in the UK |  Travel by public transport

‘Top Deck Recommended’: Readers’ Favorite Scenic Rides in the UK | Travel by public transport

‘Top Deck Recommended’: Readers’ Favorite Scenic Rides in the UK |  Travel by public transport

Find the heron from 55, Tiverton-Exeter

The best bus route is from Tiverton to Exeter on the 55. On leaving Tiverton go through the village of Bickleigh and cross the River Exe on Bickleigh Bridge which has been hit and damaged by buses, lorries and cars more times than it can to count. From the bridge though there is an incredible view in both directions 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 over the Devon countryside until it reaches Stoke Canon and another bridge. So it’s on the outskirts of Exeter and in the city centre. The entire journey takes approximately 90 minutes.
Lesley Carr

Pure theatre, 555 Lancaster-Keswick

The 555 Brave Dunmail Raise in Winter.
The 555 Brave Dunmail Raise in Winter. Photograph: Ashley Cooper/Alamy

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

Sea and Steel from the X4, Middlesbrough-Whitby

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

The X4 from Middlesbrough to Whitby encompasses a wide variety of dramatic scenery. Drive through Middlesbrough’s industrial heritage, with great views over the Tees and motors transporter bridge towards the steel heritage of Redcar (see the remains while you can). The journey takes you through the picturesque bohemian seaside town of Saltburn, with its 19th-century funicular railway, before entering the North York Moors National Park. The fishing villages of Staithes and Runswick Bay are picture postcard cute whatever the season and the approach to Whitby follows a beautiful coastal road. The journey takes almost two hours but will pass in a flash.
Mike L

Pub haven from 376, Bristol a Street, Somerset

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

The 376 Mendip Explorer goes from Bristol to Street, taking around two hours. You pass through rolling glens and pub-heaven villages like Pensford and Temple Cloud, but just wait until you descend towards Wells and glimpse Glastonbury Tor, perhaps floating above the clouds, perhaps mirrored by flooded tiers in the morning sun. Stop in Wells for a coffee at the Loaf, or continue on to Glastonbury and have breakfast at Cafe Zero, the friendliest in town. Resume the ride at your leisure. Upper floor recommended.
Eleanor Willock

Overwhelming beauty on T4, Cardiff-Brecon

Pen and Fan
Pen y Fan (right) and Cribyn peaks can be seen from T4 as it passes close to Brecon. Photograph: Huw Fairclough/Getty Images

The T4 Cardiff to Brecon (the bus goes as far as Newtown in Mid Wales) is a great introduction to this beautiful region. As you leave Cardiff, glimpse the majestic walls of Cardiff Castle and the Principality Stadium. The bus goes through sleepy Pontypridd, with the beautiful River Tâf. As you approach Brecon, you pass the dramatic and overwhelming 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 walking to come on what was a lovely break. The 90-minute journey is a comfortable and scenic way to reach Brecon from Cardiff.

Peak District views from 65, Sheffield-Buxton

John Young's flagship district bus
The 65 runs through a hamlet in the Peak District. Photography: John Young

The Stagecoach 65 bus 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 you leave the city behind, look forward to breathtaking views of the rolling countryside and pretty villages, including the plague village of Eyam. The bus also passes Tideswell, with views of the church of St John the Baptist, 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 terminates in Buxton, England’s highest market town, with plenty of dining options.
John Young

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“I loved driving the 47 through London”

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

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

Mountains and sea from T3, Wrexham-Barmouth

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

Take TrawsCymru T3 in Wrexham Bus Station, as you pass Cae Ras Football Stadium (The Racecourse Ground). The bus takes you down to the seaside at Barmouth, passing Corwen, home to Owain Glyndŵr, last native Prince of Wales, and Bala Lake, home to Wales’ answer to the Loch Ness Monster, Tegi. Stop briefly at majestic Dolgellau before passing Cadair Idris, the highest peak in southern Snowdonia. At your destination, enjoy fish and chips and take in the sea view and air. The entire journey takes approximately 2 and a half hours.
Fiona Collins

Dales Delight, No. 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 tour (30 minutes) into the heart of the Dales. Best enjoyed on a sunny day, drive through charming villages and fields brimming with sheep before arriving at the beautiful village of Grassington. I was lucky to take this bus almost every day when I lived in Yorkshire and found myself missing it – my new bus route only takes me through seedy industrial parks near Newcastle.

Winning suggestion
No 70 to the forgotten corner of Cornwall, Plymouth-Cremyll

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

Plymouth City bus 70 from city center to Cremyll is a cracker. Yes, this bus (the whole journey takes just under two hours) goes through Plymouth, but once you disembark the Torpoint ferry, it wanders through the countryside to the forgotten corner of Cornwall – the Rame Peninsula, past sheep fields before the show of the ride: Whitsand Bay, where it follows the cliff-top road overlooking the sea and beautiful sand below. Astounding.
Sarah McLellan

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