About Slower Travel

Hello, I’m Ian, and this is Slower Travel, a website about getting from A to Z via B, C, D and the rest of the alphabet…on local buses. I’m not a bus spotter and I don’t even own a flask, but I’m definitely a huge fan of taking my time.

While I’m more than happy getting to places in a fast and efficient manner when time is short or treading a familiar path, I generally prefer to see the back lanes, the winding estates and the obscure landmarks which you just can’t see from a train or a coach.

Fantastic towns and villages that non-drivers can’t reach by any other means: Leek, Dartmouth, Kirkby Lonsdale, Aldeburgh, Banff, Bawtry, Beer, Tideswell, Tenby, Tadcaster, Ullapool, Porthcurno, they’re all accessible by bus alone, even if there aren’t too many of them.

While I’ll fully concede that hopping on a few buses isn’t going to be for everyone, it’s not about the bus. It’s about the journey, the out-of-the-way, the overheard snippets of conversation, the weird and unfamiliar place names, the people you’re with, the unexpected.

This website will tell you about ace bus routes, give you ideas for days out to explore new places, and maybe even nudge you into planning some slow travel adventures of your own.

 

The Big Daft Bus Trip

I had no interest whatsoever in this kind of bus nonsense until I had a dream back in the autumn of 2001. I was so giddy when I woke up that I immediately shook Eleanor (my girlfriend at the time, now my wife) from her slumber to tell her all about it.

“El. Let’s go around the country…By bus!”
“Myeeeurrgh, tell m inthuh mrrrning” see slobbered, obviously as excited as me.

Amazingly, I didn’t forgot to mention it the next day, and even more amazingly, she thought it was a great idea. Albeit a stupid one.

So, in the summer of 2002 we embarked on an trip to circumnavigate the coast of the UK via the country’s ragtag ensemble of local buses networks. It took:

  • 166 regular buses
  • 1 postbus
  • 1 taxi
  • 1 train
  • 1 thumbed lift
  • 6 weeks

Until recently I thought that we may have been the only people daft enough to have done it, but the excellent travel writer, Dixe Wills, managed the feat as well. Hats off to anyone who can sit on their arse for 42 days on bus seats, and please do let us know if you’ve given it a bash, too.

Being in 2002, our journey was before bus timetables were widely available online, so we just winged it. I looked in a UK road atlas, guessed how long it’d take to get from there to there, and just assumed that there’d be a bus to take us.

Happily, there was for the most part, and we only ending up getting majorly stranded three times; hello Camelford, Sidmouth and Basildon. Yes, Basildon.

We visited parts of the country we’d never even heard of before and encountered a motley cast of characters, including a a born-again Christian ex-armed robber with one leg in Penzance, a man spraying his face with deodorant in Cromer, Shrimp Man in Campbeltown, Creepy Shower Guy in Oban, and yes, our first ever bus spotter in Canterbury.

It was that exciting. It’s also the best thing we’ve ever done and it’s something I’d do again in a heartbeat if time and money allowed, although El isn’t so keen.

If you’d like to give it a bash, or even to try short sections of it, I’ve come up with a guide to getting around the coast of the UK by bus, along with all the relevant routes, times and service providers. I appreciate that it’s quite niche, but that’s what the internet is for.

I hope you find the site useful, maybe even entertaining, and if you want to drop me a line, feel free to do so on ian@slowertravel.co.uk.