Purbeck Breezer 50 Poole to Swanage, Dorset
The Purbeck Breezers have great year-round open-top routes. Breezer 50 came third last year in a UK poll of scenic bus routes (beaten only by routes through the North York Moors and Scottish Highlands). Usually, the 50’s USP is crossing over to sandy Studland Bay on the chain ferry but this summer the ferry is out of action so the bus has to go the long way round. It follows a similar route to the Breezer 40 – through the time-warp town of Wareham and past the dramatic ruins of Corfe Castle.
• Adult dayrider £9 (up to two under-7s free with a paying adult).
Hourly all year, with seasonal variations
599 Bowness to Grasmere, Cumbria
Of three spectacular open-top bus routes in the Lakes, the all-year 599 is the most central. It rolls from Bowness to fell-ringed Grasmere, with its gingerbread and art galleries, past a series of lakes. Running along the shores of island-dotted Windermere, Rydal Water and Grasmere, it stops near both of Wordsworth’s former houses. Dove Cottage is due to reopen in late August (for a couple of months) and, two stops before, grander Rydal Mount and Gardens is where the poet spent his last four decades – with views over woods, hills and water.
• Dayrider ticket from £8.50 adult, bike 20p extra if there’s room. Combined bus and boat tickets available.
Until 27 October up to every 20 minutes, winter timetable more restricted
A1 Penzance to Land’s End, Cornwall
Operator: First Kernow
Leave Penzance station on the A1 Atlantic Coaster bus and you’re soon cruising down Western Promenade, with Mount’s Bay on the left, past palms trees, bowling greens and Newlyn’s seafront art gallery. A few stops later is the Lamorna pottery – for cream teas and ceramics in an old milk factory. The bus rolls on through woods and ancient fields dotted with burial chambers, wayside crosses and stone circles. There’s a detour to Porthcurno before it speeds westward to the gorse-cloaked granite headland at Land’s End. Near whitewashed houses and craggy views, there’s the much-photographed sign to John o’Groats, 874 miles away at the far end of the UK.
• From £1.40 for a short hop single to £9 return.
Hourly, every two hours from mid-September
Needles Breezer, Isle of Wight
Operator: Southern Vectis
This ride heads across Tennyson Down for a vertigo-inducing climb up the road from colourful Alum Bay to the Needles Battery. The Needles (three unmistakable chalk stacks with a lighthouse on the end) are directly below, and the closest views are via a National Trust tunnel through the downs. The bus takes a circular route from maritime Yarmouth, stopping at classic landmarks including thatched St Agnes church and the Dimbola gallery, a museum in the house where Victorian photographer Julia Cameron lived and Alfred, Lord Tennyson was a regular guest.
• Adult single £5, day ticket for all Isle of Wight buses £10 (the island Wight has several great buses and the Downs Breezer is also open-topped).
9 March until 3 November, every 30 minutes in summer, hourly from September
Bridlington Beachcomber to Flamborough Head, East Yorkshire
Operator: East Yorkshire
The Bridlington Beachcomber heads north along the coast to the chalk cliffs at Flamborough, with their old lighthouses and huge seabird colonies. From Brid’s sweet factory and animal park (discounts with your bus ticket), beside the beaches and up onto the headland, there are dramatic shifts of scene. On the way, the Beachcomber stops outside Sewerby Hall, a Georgian mansion with a zoo and 50 flowery acres of garden.
• Single £2.50, day ticket £4.50.
Every two hours until 1 September; the Scarborough Beachcomber runs at least every half an hour between North and South bays until November
Llangollen to Pontcysyllte, Clwyd
Two hour-long summer tours leave riverside Llangollen on open-toppers: head up into the wild hills of north Wales to a cafe near the Horseshoe Pass, or along the valley to Britain’s longest, highest aqueduct: the Unesco-listed Pontcysyllte. Carrying the Llangollen canal over the pretty River Dee, it was built by Thomas Telford and opened in 1805. The bus stops there for half an hour, giving those brave enough time to walk along the aqueduct’s stomach-dropping towpath, 40 metres above the wooded valley below.
• Adult £8, senior/child £5, all-day ticket (for both tours) £15.
1.10pm and 3.30pm Sunday to Wednesday in August, Sundays only in September,
Skegness Seasiders, Lincolnshire
Eleven characterful, candy-coloured open-top buses ply the seafront at Skeggy each summer. There’s onboard music, linked discounts at local attractions, and the buses are painted to match their names (Rocky is striped like a stick of rock; Sandy sports sandcastles). Collect badges on board six different buses and claim a Seasider goody bag from the travel office. The 20-minute route passes Fantasy Island theme park, with its rollercoasters, and the first-ever Butlin’s resort, still going strong after more than 80 years.
• Adult dayrider £4.50 , children £1 with a paying adult.
Easter to the end of October; up to every 10 minutes until 1 September, then less frequent; runs in winter, but isn’t open-top
Whitby Town Tour, North Yorkshire
Operator: Coastal and Country Coaches
This hour-long sightseeing tour heads over the River Esk on to the cliffs to visit the ruined abbey, with its new £1.6m visitor centre and interactive Ammonite Quest attraction. The bus starts near the arch of replica whalebone and the bronze statue of Captain Cook, overlooking the harbour, and runs west along the clifftop North Terrace before turning inland towards Whitby’s museum and art gallery in sloping Pannett Park. BBC North West’s John Mundy voices the weekday commentary; at weekend, live guides to tell visitors about the Bram Stoker and Lewis Carroll connections and other local stories.
• Day ticket £7, local singles from £1.
Hourly most days until 3 November, more in summer
69 Thanet open-top, Kent
Ramsgate boasts elegant terraced gardens and restaurants by the harbour (as well as Britain’s biggest Wetherspoon’s, in an Edwardian seafront pavilion). Thanet’s open-topper runs to Dickensian Broadstairs from near gothic St Augustine’s Church in Ramsgate, built by Augustus Pugin, who lived next door and was buried there. The bus goes on past a maritime museum in a quayside Clock Tower, a big network of wartime tunnels, and the house in Broadstairs (now a museum) that inspired Betsey Trotwood’s cottage in David Copperfield, not far from the real Bleak House.
• Single £2, day ticket £4.50.
Hourly every day in school holidays, then weekends to the end of September
1 Weston-super-Mare to Sand Bay, Somerset
This 20-minute jaunt along the coast in a half-open-top bus starts on Weston’s Royal Parade, looking over the sands towards the rebuilt pier. It trundles along the seafront past the new stone arch and, soon after, there are top-deck views across the Bristol Channel towards Glamorgan. From the last stop, stroll on beside the bay to Sand Point, a grassy promontory with salt-swept summer flowers and rising skylarks. Somerset’s other open-topped coaster, route 20, heads south from Weston to flat, popular and sandy Burnham-on-Sea.
• Single £2, day ticket £3.70 (bus 1 only).
Every 30 minutes, hourly on Sundays and in winter
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