Its now 61 days before I start this trip of mine and, as I’ve already said, much of the planning is now complete. So I suppose its time to start giving you an idea of exactly where I’m intending to go.
First of all, this is not going to be a race against the clock - far from it. I’ve allowed myself two months away from work to ensure I have time to visit the places I‘m interested in – and not just the places I have time to visit. In fact, its perfectly feasible to make the journey from Land’s End to John O’Groats by bus inside a week, and I know some who have done so, but for me this journey is all about discovery so I’m intending to cover as much ground as I can.
So, where exactly will I be going? Well, here’s a flavour of my first section of the trip.
I’m setting off from The Land’s End Hotel first thing on Friday 14 May. The first bus journey of the trip (I shall probably make a speech) will take me along the winding roads to Penzance, and then its onwards to explore some of The Lizard by bus (hopefully tracking down a decent veggie pasty in Helston to lunch on - suggestions, anyone?). Day One will end in Truro.
Day Two will see me travelling across country to Cornwall’s Atlantic Coast to take what I hope will be an exhilarating run up the coast from Newquay to Padstow, then inland for a glimpse of Bodmin Moor before the long run into Plymouth.
I planned the trip to ensure I was in Plymouth on a Saturday night, so I could take the 82 bus to Exeter on the Sunday morning (the only day on which it runs) which runs right through the heart of Dartmoor. From Exeter, I’ll then be taking a bus right along Dorset’s spectacular Jurassic Coast, a three-hour journey through fantastic coastal scenery that will eventually bring me to Weymouth.
Monday, Day 4, sees me en route from Weymouth to Swanage, then by bus and chain ferry across Poole Harbour to Bournemouth before finally running right along the coast to the fringes of the New Forest at Lymington.
Day 5 will see me on the water again, this time heading for the Isle of Wight. After a run in an open top bus down to The Needles, I’ll be setting off to visit my first bus museum of the journey at Newport. Then its off to Shanklin, to travel by former London Underground train – on rolling stock that first saw service during the Blitz - to Ryde. Sometime during the day I’m hoping to meet a bus preservationist who, amongst other things, is busy restoring two London Routemaster buses.
Day 6 and I’ll be ticking off another form of public transport. This time its hovercraft across the Solent to Portsmouth. Then it’s a coast-hugging bus all the way to Brighton
Day 7 and I’ll be heading north for probably the first time on the trip. I’ll be diving inland to Tunbridge Wells, then to Crawley and Horsham before arriving in Guildford, one of the sourthernmost boundary towns of the old Green Line bus services. I’ll overnight in Leatherhead.
Day 8 will be the most challenging as I hop from bus to bus en route to Central London, hopefully taking in the odd Croydon tram on the way. I’ll be heading to Tower Bridge, which itself has a rather remarkable association with buses, before climbing aboard an original London Routemaster en route to Trafalgar Square. Then its Underground to King’s Cross and a train north to Tyneside for a brief visit home.
Well, I will have run out of socks by then, and I think a change of underwear would be in everyone’s interests…!
Details of phase 2 to follow.