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Travel on a Concessionary Pass 2008

Stokenchurch to Land's End by your Editor

June 2nd to 5th 2008

To see the pictures full size just click on the thumbnail

Day 2 - Lyme Regis to Fowey


A map of my outward bound journey.
Courtesy Microsoft Autoroute 2007

Tuesday, 3rd June 2008 and I was awakened by the sound of rain falling on the thatched roof of my overnight accommodation, running down the window, with the atmosphere of a poor dawn added to by the mournful cry of the seagulls wheeling overhead.

I lay, for a while savouring the day past and the day to come. All was quiet in the house and I mused over how to start my travels on that wet Tuesday. I was looking forward to my trip on the First H&D X53, knowing that the coast journey ahead was one of beauty and interest. I worked out from my plan and copies of timetables that the earliest X53, I could use on my pass, would depart from Lyme Regis at 10:53, the early service at 08:53 being too early for a "twirly". This meant that after a leisurely breakfast, I would still have an hour or so to spare. I concluded that maybe I would return to Bridport on a 31 service which left Lyme Regis at 09:31- thus not too early for a "twirly", thereafter joining the same X53 earlier in Bridport at 10:22.

I washed and dressed, packed my belongings and went down to an excellent hot breakfast in a most comfortable dining room. The house was very busy and I was soon joined by several more guests of whom I thought "I bet they are not going to Fowey by bus today".

Having paid my bill, I walked outside to find the rain had stopped and it was not looking too bad after all.

 
My view from the front door of my overnight accommodation was of flowers, the sea and The Jurassic Coast.

I had thought that the 31 would come past the hotel, since I had been dropped the night before outside the door and so walked o the main A3052 and the nearest bus stop. However the 31 did not stop here and I had to walk down to town, soon realising that I had less time to catch the 31 bus as a result. Indeed when I arrived, somewhat breathless, in Broad Street the 31 was already on the stop loading. I had hoped for one of the Volvo B10BLEs with Wright Renown bodies, very similar except for the centre door, to the Oxford Bus 8xx series but this was not be and another Dart was to be my transport to Bridport.


My ride to Bridport was on this 1997 Dennis Dart SLF 42636, which back in 2001 was to be found in York where it was new in 1997 as 3323.

Service 31 Lyme Regis to Bridport operated by First Hampshire and Dorset - Dennis Dart SLF/Plaxton Pointer N37F 42636 P836YUM new 1997

The timetable for the 31 service

I was indeed just in time, the picture of the Dart being taken 09:30 and the service left at 09:31, spot on time. We had a pretty decent load on board and you've guessed - mostly "twirlys" just like me. I had to take pot luck on a seat but still managed to get one near the front, thereby enabling photographs.

I noticed that these buses work on tacho under EU rules and will of course shortly be replaced by the Scania deckers now running the X53. Indeed the drivers work rosters which combine the 31 and X53 services. Very many of the services have a driver change at Bridport so that working hours comply with EU rules.

We climbed out of Lyme Regis heading for Charmouth and picked up quite a few people en route.


We crossed a 31 service, worked by Volvo 66168, heading for Axminster via Lyme Regis as we approached an intending passenger.

Bridport was reached just a minute late at 10:02, where a driver change took place, before the Dart went on its way to Weymouth still a few minutes behind schedule. I do have to note that the performance of 42636 was not in the same league as 42829 from the night before and this contributed to our 1 minute late arrival. I think the poor thing had seen better days, being very flat on the hills but still quite comfortable.

I was left with time to take some pictures and look around this interesting little spot. The depot has a wonderful name board reminding one of Southern National days.

Nice, this may sound pretty dumb on my part but I have a rather sad story to relate. It was not until recently when asked the question, my Stagecoach M D, Martin Sutton explained the reason behind Southern and Western in front of the National name? Well just in case there are any other sad cases amongst my readers, it all related to where the Southern and Great Western Railways ran. Simple really - oh how sad to have gone so long without knowing or realising. However to all you fine young minds out there - you are never too old to learn!

A pictureview of Bridport.

The First depot has a varied and most interesting fleet, much of which was on hand for my camera.


Another Volvo on the 31, this time 66179, which was to depart on the 10:10 service to Axminster.


My 31 service Dart, 42636 loads for its onward journey to Weymouth whilst my Dart from the night before is today working a 47 service to Yeovil
due to depart at 10:15. The 31 should leave at 10:07, a busy few minutes at Bridport.

Timetable for the 47 to Yeovil


First - Southern National - Bridport Garage sign board.


Variety at Bridport.
1 -First Olympians 34344 - 34335 and 34541 resting after the morning school run. 34344 was I think a regular around Heathrow when new with London Buslines.
2 -  First coaches 20055 - 20454 and 20440 with Dart 42817 layover waiting their next duties.


Once N878EAK, this coach - 20055 - has had a varied career, being with First Cymru & First Leicester.
The registration was at one time on a Duple 340 coach at Northampton which had come from SMT.
Seems that there is nearly a whole page of history to this registration and the coaches involved.

My few minutes in Bridport were well filled and it was no surprise to find the X53 approaching the stand in the bus station already looking well loaded.


One young lady dashes across to join the X53 which will be my next ride on my epic trip.

Service X53 - Bridport to Exeter - First Scania N94UD/East Lancs Omnidekka NC43/26F 36003 from 2004.

Timetable for the X53 - Monday to Friday

I was not able to get a front seat on this service and had to content myself with an offside rear upper deck seat. It rained during the journey for a short while and the dampness resulted in a lot of condensation in the bus making viewing outside not so easy. However my seat was comfortable and high backed and I enjoyed the fine ride these buses give.

By the time you read this, it may be possible that new buses are in service. They are Volvo B9TLs with Wrights Gemini bodywork and I am grateful to Alistair Liddle for a picture of one of the new buses which arrived in Fleetwood last weekend.


Volvo 37586 at Fleetwood on 29th June. Photo by Alistair Liddle.
There has been much discussion about these buses with suggestions that they will not be as good as the Scanias they will replace.
Well, only time will tell but the seats don't look as comfortable as the ones in the Scania.
Further pictures of four more can be found at: http://alistair268.fotopic.net/c1539503.html

We left Bridport, after the inevitable driver change, dead on 10:22, the scheduled time, with around 36 passengers on our 69 seats, so just around half a load. Charmouth was reached on time where four more passengers boarded.


We turn on to the main road and head for Lyme Regis and Exeter.


The approach into Lyme Regis is very narrow and requires quite some skill from the drivers. The right turn at the end is very tight indeed
and wing mirrors are susceptible to damage if one gets it wrong.


We arrive at Lyme Regis Rock Point safely and a lot of people get off before others can get on for the journey onwards.
The bus is named Jack Rattenbury.

As mentioned in the picture captions the road into Lyme Regis has a very tight right hand bend before one can reach the stop at Rock Point. Our driver told me how easy it was to lose a mirror if you got it wrong and buses of any greater length would, I think, find it too sharp a turn.

There were a lot of passengers waiting to board and I think we left with about 50 passengers on board. This included a lady in a wheelchair and I must compliment the driver on his calm and patient manner when dealing with this passenger. He allowed lots of time and I am sure she felt very well treated.


The wheelchair passenger goes on  board - not too easy to get the bus in the right position in this awkward stop.

I had quite some time to take photographs and liked the location very much. The bus seemed to blend into the scene very well and I think the livery is most acceptable. Some kind people on the upper deck looked after my bag and seat and I think my picture above captures the scene very well indeed.

We left Lyme Regis some 5 minutes late, a delay which we seemed unable to recover on our way towards Exeter.


Climbing out of Lyme Regis en route to Exeter one could look back at the Jurassic coast line which seems to beckon
travellers, come have a look!

Heading towards Seaton, its famous tramway being seen from the bus at various points as we approached Colyford, I remembered a previous visit to this part of the world when I was able to ride on the trams, a very pleasant experience.

click on this link to read all about the Seaton Tramway


Approaching
Colyford we pass a Stagecoach Trident 18113 en route to Exeter via Sidmouth. From the timetable it was the 10:55 from Seaton.
Timetable for the Stagecoach 52.

Seeing Sidmouth on the destination screen reminded me of a school camp at Ladram Bay in 1951. We used to walk over the cliffs to Peak Hill and take the bus down to Sidmouth. This was operated by The Sidmouth and Dagworthy Motor and Carriage Co. Ltd (I think I got the name right) and I have taken the liberty of including a scan of a picture from an excellent Ian Allan book entitled "The British Bus Scene in the 1950s" to illustrate one of the buses I rode on as an 11yr old. The picture is by V C Jones via Ian Allan Publishing and reminds of some very happy hours spent. (We were there for three weeks which seemed an eternity to a child.) I have a vivid recollection of the old white top capped, white coated driver who chewed tobacco all the way up the hill and seemingly spat it out all the way down and there's no picture of that I'm afraid.

I also remember seeing an Albion belonging to Mrs Hart in Budleigh Salterton. Her company was taken over by Devon General in the '50s as was the Sidmouth company.

As we approached the tramway terminus at Seaton, I could see a couple of interesting coaches parked in front of some houses on the other side of the road and noted one was local. Motts certainly seem to get around and this was no exception. The bus stop is cut off from the tramway station by trees and fencing so I was not able to see any trams. We soon loaded our few passengers at this stop and I had to run back to take my seat on board.


First 36003 at Seaton tram terminus and we see the Motts coach on tour in both pictures.

We now worked our way through the town towar5ds the sea front stop where a number of other buses were to be seen, this being the terminus/loading point for a number of local services.


 Stagecoach Devon Solo 47600 which is ex Cooks of Wellington on 392 Seaton Town Service.

I did not realise that the Solo had come with the Cooks fleet recently absorbed into the Stagecoach Devon fleet. I was to see more of Cooks during my time in Exeter and it was enjoyable when preparing the pictures to find out many interesting aspects of my trip and photographs.

Another operator in Seaton is Axe Valley Mini Travel who operate a red and cream Metrorider on service 899. Michael Wadman very kindly supplied some background to this operator which I include below.

The 899 is operated by Axe Valley Mini Travel, who occupy the former SNOC depot in Seaton. The name is a bit of a misnomer these days as the fleet includes both fill-size single-deckers and double-deckers, so the fleet name is usually rendered simply as AVMT. The double-deckers mainly appear at school times.

Itís hard to describe the route as there are so many variations! Basically the main route is from Seaton via the B3174 to Beer, then a one-way loop around the residential area of Beer (shown in the timetable as Underleys) and continuing along Quarry Lane to the village of Branscombe before joining the A3052 which it follows as far as Sidford where it turns left and follows the usual route into Sidmouth via Sidford road, Vicarage Road, All Saints Road, and Station Road to terminate at the Triangle.

Exceptions:

Some journeys omit Branscombe and after Beer go straight via the B3174 onto the A3052. On schooldays some of these donít call at Beer at all. 

One journey each way doesnít serve Sidford but goes into Sidmouth via Fortescue. 

On SDO two buses each way donít serve Sidmouth but continue from Sidford to Newton Poppleford, Budleigh Salterton, and Exmouth. 

The morning SDO bus from Exmouth doesnít go to Seaton but continues along the A3052 to Colyford. Another SDO bus from Sidmouth also does this but then continues to Seaton. The afternoon return equivalents both start from Colyford. 

Finally, I think, there are eight journeys that have nothing to do with the main 899 but carry the number for historical reasons. Four of these are NS journeys from Seaton to Axmouth and back; the other four are SDO journeys that extend from Axmouth to the Woodroffe School, which is nearly in Lyme Regis, and back. 

The main route via Branscombe is amongst my top ten bus routes in the country. Back in the early Ďnineties, before such things became common even in urban fleets, and long before mobile phones became ubiquitous, the vehicles on this service were equipped with two-way radios so the drivers could tell each other where they were because of the paucity of passing places.

This seems to be a route one should try but time prevented me from doing so. Maybe on a return visit when I could stay in Sidmouth and see if Austin toastracks still grind their way up Peak Hill on a dark night.

Whilst our bus was loading there was still time for me to take some more pictures of events in Seaton.


A Robinsons Holidays coach on tour at Seaton. This was on Holiday nr 11 based at the Abbey Lawn Hotel in Torquay.
This is one of Robinsons own hotels and their web site can be found at:
Robinsons Tours Web Site
The company has around 15 full sized coaches including four Starliners purchased from BuzzLines.
The coach above joined the fleet new for the 2004 season.


SCD-Cooks 47600 prepares for another rounder on the town service in Seaton. An Axe Valley Dart can be seen in the left of the picture.
This picture is nearly a candidate for "Buses in the Landscape".

Whilst I had been looking around our Scania was getting ready to leave have loaded a fair few passengers.


Amazing but Seaton does not look quite such a nice place in this picture.


....and now a buggy and family join the already well loaded Scania and we are ready to leave with an almost full load somewhat late by now at 11:30 (10 minutes down)

We leave our sea front stop and climb slowly out of Seaton towards our next main stop at the pretty little village of Beer, nestling around a smugglers' cove and caves which were once used to store contraband goods. These are now part of the attraction of the town.

As we go out of Seaton we see some of the interesting houses which form part of the sea front.


One is quite "art deco" in design whilst the other is more traditional, both most attractive dwellings.


The roads we use are mostly narrow and full of surprises, seen here by the car suddenly approaching.


As we near the village of Beer we can see the coast from our high vantage point. Note the interesting use of the cove panels on our bus.

A useful web site can be found at: http://www.beer-devon.co.uk/

The village has some really nice buildings and is full of interest and history. Our bus needs to reverse into a triangle of road, at Beer Cross, to make its appointed stop and I found the whole place most attractive and would have wished for more time here. The small stream running down the side of the road is of note.

However, all too soon, we are soon loaded and on our way once again, climbing back out of the village and taking the road towards Exeter and the main route on the A3052. At this point we are 11 minutes down on schedule.


Our immediate climb towards Sidford is hampered by cars and a Poole bound working of the X53.
This took quite some time to resolve, with cars trying to reverse, their drivers not being at all good at this manoeuvre.
I have to admit, but don't tell, it was all rather amusing as the drivers involved didn't seem to have a clue.
Such were the to-ing and fro-ing of the cars that with some editing a video could have been put to waltz music.


Our driver had already stopped at a suitable spot for the two buses to pass and after the fun we were soon on our way.

We set down and pick up several passengers at Sidford and by the time we leave, adding the delay with the waltzing cars, we are now 19 minutes down on the timetable.

We are back on the A3052 and well on our way to Exeter via Newton when we encounter some quite major road works. There was two way working and I was amused to see that the contractors had provided a quad bike as a marshall for each turn of the traffic. This was, I think, to ensure the speed was kept down on this less than major road.

Passing through Newton at 12:10, still some 15  minutes down we passed another Stagecoach Trident, 17706, on a 52 working.

Before long we were coming to the outskirts of Exeter at The Countess Wear public house. I remembered this from a long ago visit with Peter Roberts, Colin Shears and an ex Manchester Corporation Leyland TS2 which we had taken more than one day to drive and tow down from Manchester to Exeter, that must have been in 1962 or thereabouts. We had some fun and I so remember a policeman in Gloucester remarking as we went through that city, "Manchester Corporation - well I never!" For those interested this was bus number 33 VR5996 which had a chequered career, being used as a canteen bus in Manchester prior to being sold in May 1962. It then spent some years with Colin Shears before being seen in West Wales and I think returning to Manchester to become a donor to get another TS2 on the road nr 28 - VR5742. Both buses had been new in 1930 and number 28 is now in The Manchester Museum at Boyle Street.

Well, back from memory lane, we turned towards the city at The Countess Wear and passed several interesting buses and coaches on our way to the main bus station in Paris Street.

 


I noticed this Volvo coach on an X38 working heading out towards The Countess Wear and the A38.


Trathens are using some Volvo-Jonckheere deckers on National Express diagrams, this one being SF07 ORZ on the 501 to London.

All too soon, for I had very much enjoyed the X53 ride, we were approaching the bus station and I had time to reflect on my journey. I had seen some of the nicest scenery, met many interesting people and found myself musing on times gone by.


Time for reflection on my trip and memories of earlier times.

We were some 23 minutes late getting into Exeter Bus Station and I now had to look at my options for my next journey. I could have taken the X46 to Paignton (that could have been on a Brookes Trident) and then  the X45 but using this connection I would not have arrived in Plymouth until 16:00 and my planned connection to the intended X38 service direct was at 15:33 by Western Greyhound. I would however have seen Torquay and the coast. Ah well, it was not to be and I took an hour out to take pictures and have lunch leaving on the X38 at 14:10.

The arrival route passes the back, or is it front, of the Stagecoach garage and an interesting little gem stood in the yard. It was a one time minibus of a type cherished by Devon General's first private owner after NBC, Harry Blundred.


he coach station, or lower bus station was hosting a number of interesting coaches.


As I arrived I could see a familiar Trident in the line of departing services loading on their respective bays.


Our Scania takes a well earned break before she is ready to take another full load back to Weymouth and Poole.
Our driver told me that after his break he would take over a saloon for an X54 journey to Colyford.


Looking down into the lower level one could see a number of interesting buses.


So this is what the single decker is used on, the X54. A closer view of Scania 65704 is seen waiting time in the lower station at Exeter.

I spent a most pleasant 90 minutes or so at the bus station and there was a great deal to see and record.


As mentioned above I was surprised to see one of our Brookes Tridents in the bus station as I arrived on the X53.
Here it is waiting for loading and departure time on the 13:00 X46 service to Paignton.


SCD 32064 on route 2 but branded for the 157 taking time on a layover bay in the upper bus station.
This bus was once with Thames Transit in Oxford and later Stagecoach in Oxford.


This Dart, also from Oxford - 32056 - has Jurassic Coast livery but the branding is being removed and it is seen on service 359 to Moretonhampstead.


This Dart originated with Hong Kong Citybus and came to Devon in 1999. It is air conditioned from its far east days.


One of the very many Solos in use in Devon with Stagecoach. This is on tendered service to Bridford.

Moving towards the exit of the upper level area  I found a good spot for photographs. There certainly was variety and one had to notice the very good condition of all the buses and coaches that I saw. Indeed regardless of age the Stagecoach vehicles were, in the main, looking very well kept indeed.


Another bus which has seen service in Oxford is this early Dart MPD 33200 now in use in Devon.


Oxford yet again. This is one of a batch of 29 which spent their early lives in Oxford and are now widely scattered across the U.K.
It looks very smart and I do like the use of big fleet numbers, they help my tired old eyes.


An ex London Scania now in Exeter and seen with an allover advert, 15369 on route 55.


Ex London and then I think Cambridge this Trident is heading for Brixington.


Another Trident, this time one of 21 delivered new in 2004 and spread across the Devon operating area, is 18080 heading for Kingsbridge on the X64.


Now I seem to remember that on my last visit to Devon, this Olympian was based at Torquay and carried a special livery for Mark & Spencer and a shoppers special?


This Alexander Dash bodied Dart was new to London in 1997 and has been with Devon for a number of years now.
32619 is seen leaving for Newton Abbott on route 2.



My wait was rewarded when our Trident, 18195, departed as seen here on the X46 to Paignton.


This was followed by a Trathens Neoplan Skyliner on the 501 service heading for Totnes, running some 30 minutes late.


Arriva operate the 337 service, normally with Scania Levantes and here (Scania 35) 3253 is seen heading for Bristol and Rugby.


Dart Line YJ08PFU r366 to Kenn in the bus station Exeter. This is I think a county sponsored route and the Solo very new.


Turners Tours M151HPL on route 369 from Exeter to Morchard Bishop at 1300.


Remembering the name of one my erstwhile contributors, I could not resist the inclusion of this coach.
Maxfield Coaches Web Site

Following a pleasant interlude at the exit I moved on to the enquiry office which beckoned to furnish me with timetables etc. The staff seemed friendly and I asked them if I might take a picture as it certainly was a very well stocked establishment, including many examples of the local Stagecoach fleet in model form.

Having collected copies of the excellent timetables for local services from  this bright, airy and inviting office, I wheeled my bag out on to the concourse and looked for more photographs. These seemed to be down on the lower level and I decided to get a sandwich and a tea before proceeding further. The cafe is somewhat between levels and I chose the entrance with steps, not a good one with a wheelie bag etc.

The cafe was quite busy but I found a table and went to get a sandwich and tea and as it turned out a big surprise. The prawn mayonnaise sandwich was reasonable at £2.25 and I asked the girl serving for a tea. "Large or Medium" she asked in a voice not local or even English. I asked for the smallest and she asked for £1.75. Recovering from the shock of a drink more expensive than BAA airports charge I declined, paid for my sandwich which was not altogether fresh and returned to my table and a bottle of water in my small bag for a drink. I also had some chocolate which finished off my less than satisfactory repast. It seemed to me that the customers must be very wealthy or they have to charge a high price to make up for the lack of sales. I think Dick Turpin or Robin Hood must have a hand in this establishment.

Suffice to say, unless you have lots of pennies take a flask if visiting Exeter bus station.

I now moved on to the lower level and as I did not want to don a high-vis vest had to content myself with pictures too close or too far but I think the results were reasonable.


This coach was in from the Cooks depot in chard, the same depot which is home to Solo 47600 pictured earlier in Seaton.
Tracing the origins, I think this coach was new to Starline Travel of Knutsford, Cheshire, whose main fleet was acquired by Arriva Manchester.
When new it was registered K200SLT and somewhere I have a picture taken in Knutsford in 1993.
It is now 59103 in the Stagecoach national fleet numbering scheme and is Dennis Javelin with Berkhof Excellence b51 seat bodywork.


Also on layover was one of Western Greyhounds Olympian deckers some of which I am told are due for replacement by brand new vehicles.
These older deckers came from City of Nottingham where they were new in 1997.


Two very smart German coaches were parked up and I wonder if one operator likes cherished numbers?


The final offering in the lower area I include, is this trainer originally with London.
I used maximum zoom for this picture and this accounts for the strange perspective. 26027 is one of two similar examples in use
for training at Exeter from this 1992 batch of DAF buses also used for training in London.

I now moved outside to Bamfylde Road which is the main approach road for buses arriving at the bus station. It also serves as pick up and driver change point for local city services.


First 42845 approaches the bus station on Taunton working, one similar to the batch based at Weymouth.



One of SC Devon's many Solos, this one a 2004 bus approaches on a local service once run by Exeter Corporation, service D,
normally the haunt of green liveried Solos as seen below.



A 2006 Dart, 34862, pauses to pick up opposite to the depot whilst working route A.


Another ex Oxford bus, Dart 33804, is waiting time on route P to Pennsylvania, once the home of Colin Shears if memory serves me correctly.


Yet another Dart, this one from West Scotland, where it once ran on the Ayrshire coast, 33774 was once 404.
This Dart is on route S, another ex Corporation route, part of the Rifford road Circular services.


This Solo, in the correct livery for route D funded by several parties for Exeter University and Digby Retail Park.
The bus is 47109, an early Solo in the Devon fleet.

Making my way back to the upper level, I needed to be ready for the 14:10 X38 departure to Plymouth and my journey southwards to Land's End.


This Western Greyhound Volvo Olympian decker was on the 510 to Okehampton and I was impressed by the green destination screen.


Whilst waiting for my next bus I saw this livery on the Culm Valley Connect and thought how striking it was.

Stagecoach service X38 - Exeter-Plymouth - Volvo coach 52343 - Plaxton Interurban BC51F

Timetable for the X38

There were a large number of people waiting for the X38 and of course, you've guessed, they were largely "twirlys" off home after a morning in Exeter. The Stagecoach X38 serves Ashburton, Buckfastleigh and Ivybridge on its way to Plymouth and is normally run by Volvo coaches from a batch of six new to Devon fleet. It is timed to run between the two points in 1hour and 25 minutes.


Looking very smart, belying its 12 years age, 52343 comes on to stand for the 14:10 departure to Plymouth with the blind just changing from Exeter.

We had a few minutes to wait until our driver put in appearance and after setting up, this service is obviously under EU running, he opened the doors for boarding. As I had been first in the queue I had a choice of seat and was able to take the seat immediately behind the luggage pen, with a good view forward. The coaches seat 51 and are the "Interurban" model from Plaxton new in 1996. Sometimes they can be seen in London Green Line on a Megabus service from the West Country.

We were four minutes late away from Exeter and retraced my earlier steps towards Countess Wear where we took the road out towards the A38 which we joined shortly afterwards. We passed more Stagecoach buses on our way out which also took in the hospital. Traffic was heavy and we were five minutes late passing Countess Wear.


The route for departing buses takes one along Heavitree Road, Barrack Road and then a turn into Topsham Road and onwards towards Countess Wear.
Various services are seen through the front of 52343 including an ex Oxford Dart and the next inbound X53 service from Poole.

We are now heading down the A38 where a brief detour is made to serve Drumbridges roundabout and then back on to the A38 and south westwards towards Ashburton. Here we turn off the A38 and take the old road through the town. One cannot imagine how such a narrow place would cope without the A38 but it used to and it caused massive traffic jams on busy summer weekends long ago. We stopped in Ashburton 40 minutes after leaving Exeter and now ten minutes down on schedule.


Whilst we were loading an Exeter bound X38 service, this time operated by Olympian 16603 passed us, also running some 10 minutes down.

To be fair there were some roadworks on our way out of Exeter which did not help our running time adherence. We now continued to Buckfastleigh, where we were still ten minutes down and back on to the A38 Expressway where a stop was made at Ivybridge (Westover Wood) before heading onwards into Plymouth.

Passing Plympton and a left turn on to the A374 following Embankment Road and we head into the city much bombed during World War 2 and I am fascinated by the buildings which greet me as we near the very centre of the city. We are still some 10 minutes down on schedule and I carefully ask the driver if we are going to be in near to time as I have a short connection. He says he will do his best and I cross my fingers.


 The ruined Charles Church - the city's memorial to the civilians killed in the Blitz with Drake Circus Shopping Centre behind.

Bretonside bus station comes into sight on the left and I look for my next bus, Western Greyhound's 592 to Liskeard. I am not sure where to look but our driver suddenly calls, "there's the 592 on our right - he's already left. What time did you say the service was?"

"1533" I reply which seems pointless as at 15:30 my bus has already left. We pull on to stand at Bretonside Bus Station on the dot of 15:30 and my bus has gone. Indeed he must have left anything up to 2 minutes previously.

To say I am not impressed would be an understatement. I am disappointed, frustrated and annoyed all in one. I had especially wanted to use this service as it had been featured on BBC's The One Show some weeks previously and to overcome EU rules, what had once been an Exeter-Newquay service was now 592 - Exeter-Liskeard and 593 Liskeard-Newquay. Same bus, same driver but not the same route.

I went into the bus station enquiry office and a fellow elderly like myself working behind the counter was unable to assist but I used my mobile to call Western Greyhound who made a lame excuse that the drivers Wayfarer was probably wrong. "Well get a taxi and take me to catch up your bus" I said (that's polite - it was more like a shout) to which I was told, "we don't do that kind of thing". They took my name and address but what good that was to do I could not imagine.

I now turned to the gentleman on enquiries and he suggested I could take the National Express service to St Austell or wait another hour for the next 592 service.

I said that as a National Express driver I suppose I could use their service but this was against the rules I had set myself - local bus service only.

He however directed me to the National Express office behind the First enquiry office where I met a charming lady, who upon listening to my tale of woe, said "would you like a cup of tea". What an angel, she was as good as her word and I soon held a mug of hot tea in my hand and her soothing ways eased my pain. I let her book me on the National Express 504 service to St Austell due to leave at 16:35 on a staff ticket and settled down to relax after my hectic few minutes.

Some while later the 504 arrived and I went to take a few pictures before leaving this place where so much had happened in a short space of time. I had not wanted to wait another hour as my arrival in Fowey for my next overnight would also be one hour later and I was looking forward to a nice rest.


I had a few minutes to take some pictures of operations at Bretonside which included this ex Glasgow 1996 Olympian on the 86 to Tavistock.


The X80 to Torquay is now facing competition from the X45 run by Stagecoach whose bus can be seen in the corner of this picture.
First use these Volvo B6BLEs with Wrights Crusader bodywork on this service now which in the past was VR worked.


Here we see the 16:33 592 service loading and call me a sceptic but I checked the Wayfarer which was spot on time with my watch!!!!!

National Express service 504 - Plymouth to St Austell - Volvo coach First 20530.

http://www.nationalexpress.com/

I headed back to the National Express office to collect my case which the lovely lady had said I could leave and I headed to my 504 service for the next part of my journey.


First's Volvo 20530 was to be my ride and here a busy load awaits their service and passengers on our service also wait to board.
The lovely lady, Kelly Austin" checks the loading and all too soon it is time for me to board.


Kelly poses for the camera, I cannot thank her enough for her help and that cup of tea.

Our driver is from Camborne depot and has already joined the coach at Taunton services. He will now take the coach through to Penzance, leaving the London originating driver here at Plymouth. When our driver, Mark Howarth, new I was an NEx driver, he welcomed me to the front seat which had been used as a crew seat until this point. This meant I was able to take pictures on our way to St Austell.

We left Plymouth, and some very kind people, at 16:40, some five minutes down on schedule and began to wend our way out of the city towards our first stop at Liskeard.


The other side of Charles Church seen as we leave the city centre.


Two of the local Plymouth buses, one First and one Citybus, we passed on our way out.


Early evening traffic congestion on our way to the Liskeard Road.


A Trident - Enviro 400 of First Plymouth - 33416 - on a Park & Ride service heading into the city.


Its that Western Greyhound company again, this time a 577 service heading in to the city.


Various houses on the Alma Road, coming out of Plymouth which looked colourful in the late afternoon sunshine.


This cityBUS Dart looks quite smart in its red, black and white livery. It is heading down the Alma Road into the city.


Was this a bus depot I saw on the left hand side of our coach?


Various buses that we saw on our way from the city. Colourful and interesting.
The title to each picture says what each is.

 We were soon heading to the Saltash Bridge which marks the boundary between Devon and Cornwall and it gives opportunity for some great pictures, even from the restricted view of a coach.


From Devon into Cornwall, four views of the railway and road bridges over the Tamar at Saltash.
The Royal Albert Bridge
is Isambard Kingdom Brunel's greatest railway viaduct.
http://www.royalalbertbridge.co.uk/html/history.html

The road bridge is known as The Tamar Bridge.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tamar_Bridge

We soon leave Saltash and Plymouth behind us and are at speed on the A38 heading for Liskeard. At one point we pass the 592 heading for the same point and I can't help smiling down on the hard working Vario with quite a goodly load on board. Mark happened to mention that one could in fact use the 504 between Plymouth and Penzance on a concession pass and I suddenly felt at peace with the world. I had not broken my pledge on what services to use. The coach is quite full and can have as many as twenty stops between Plymouth and Penzance. However our first stop is Liskeard.


We were a few minutes down into Liskeard and Mark was pleased to get on to the stop properly. He says often and because of the local buses,
one cannot get close to the pavement which is difficult for the many elderly passengers carried.

A number of services run through Liskeard and it seems that Western Greyhound are one of the major operators.


574 and 573 services are seen in Barras Street.
Services can be checked on their excellent web site :
http://www.westerngreyhound.com/

We are soon on our way once again towards our next point of call which will be my stop at St Austell. This will be in 40 minutes, still some 21 miles away on busy roads.


We pass a 593 service heading for Liskeard where it will change into a 592 and head for Plymouth.
This is the Dobwalls area of major roadworks where a by-pass is being constructed.


Had I made an even earlier connection in Plymouth, I would have used the First 928 from Mount Charles to St Blazey which I think was this bus we passed on the A390.

We are now nearing St Austell and I felt that I was now also nearing journey's end for Day 2.


We can see the sea now as we head towards St Blazey and Par.


 The strangely named Tywardreath Highway is ahead as we near St Austell.


 Not far now to St Austell.

We had turned off the A38 south west of Liskeard and were now on a narrow road, the A390, heading towards St Austell where we due to arrive at 17:55 but we actually arrived 15 minutes late at 18:10. My connection service on Western Greyhound was the 529 due in St Austell at 18:22.


My National Express coach is just departing for its onward journey to Penzance which is still another two hours or so away.


First took over Truronian 'recently and as a resul
t gained some bendy buses which are used on the Eden Project.
one of the bus services runs from St Austell -
http://www.edenproject.com/


The Western Greyhound bus seen above was on the 527 to Newquay but had arrived on the 529 where I would have joined it at Lanviet.

First service 26B St Austell to Fowey - Mercedes Benz Vario 0814 - Plaxton Beaver B22F new 1998

Timetable for the 26B

My last bus of the day was First 26B, an evening service between the Lost Gardens of Heligan, Mevagissey and Fowey. This duly arrived on schedule driven by a really helpful guy based at St Austell depot.


Our Vario loads for Fowey at the temporary stand in St Austell, this bus station being rebuilt as I write.


On the winding road to Fowey we pass through some nice villages.


In Fowey the bus turns around at Safe Harbour Hotel from where one can see The Fowey Estuary.


My kindly driver stopped to allow this picture which is a real treat.


Journey's end at last on Day 2 - the sea at Fowey.

I had left Lyme Regis that morning at 09:31 and it was now 19:10 as I was set down high above the town of Fowey nestling below by the sea. I had experienced kindness, surprise, frustration and pleasure. The places seen will long live in my memory and I walked slowly towards my hotel for the night.

This was the Fowey Hotel over looking the estuary and sea where many years ago, 1949 to be precise, I had stayed with my family.

The Fowey Hotel

And so, 59 years later I was back and I contentedly checked into the hotel. The staff were kind and friendly and I was shown up to my room, with sea view, by the charming General Manager, Andrea Callis, who was able to confirm that the lift I remembered as a child, had been installed in 1936 and had not changed at all. Seemingly some of the rooms had been changed during a recent renovation but otherwise the hotel did seem much as I remembered.

I showered and changed and went down to an excellent bar dinner and a welcome pint of shandy.

What a great end to Day 2.

Stokenchurch, 7th July 2008

Day 3 will be published shortly.

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A note regarding photographs which show drivers faces.
Following one complaint from a bus driver in Oxford but considering the fact that the photographs are taken of the vehicle not any person,
I will blank out the face to avoid any discomfort to the individual concerned. If you are the person involved send me an email to have this action taken.
I am sure people will realise that to ask everyone in advance of publication, whose face may appear in a picture is wholly impractical in both time and practice.
I am sorry to have to mention such a matter but we now live in a world of human rights and political correctness which must be considered.