Buses & Trains

March 2, 2012

The romantic side of me has always been drawn to the buses and trains of the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District yet the practicalities of travelling by public transport have always put me off.

Until recently train travel for me has been limited to a few trips on the Settle Carlisle railway (quite excellent service) and  journeys of necessity in the Scottish Highlands with Corrour Station in the middle of Rannoch Moor being a particular favourite. Bus trips have been even less frequent; spasmodically during my recent walk along the Dales Way when I was able to return by bus to my daily starting point; prior to that I took the regular bus service up Borrowdale on a reasonably frequent basis before I owned a car (many years ago!)…but that really was it.

In recent months a number of things have conspired to make me look a lot closer at the bus and train options and whether the benefits of using public transport outweigh the practical difficulties:

  • The enhanced pleasure of a walk in travelling from A to B and not A to A.
  • Economic, the price of petrol and running a car generally is becoming prohibitive.
  • The environmental impact of cars and the irritation of driving on clogged up roads
  • The pleasures of being able to enjoy the scenery in peace and (usually) comfort
  • Being inspired/shamed by fellow walkers on the fells who have used public transport.

In the past I have been put off by not only the time restrictions that a bus or train timetable offer and the limitations in where they go, but also by an idle and negative attitude in not investigating what is actually out there. The reality is that there is a more frequent service than I imagined, I have found them reliable, it is not overpriced and most importantly the services offer new and varied walking opportunities across the national parks. Yes a little more effort may have to be put in in planning your walks but the benefits outweigh the problems for many (although not all) walks.
Below is a list of the relevant websites which have clear and accurate timetables in order to plan your journey.

http://www.settle-carlisle.co.uk/ The Settle to Carlisle classic rail line passing through Ribblehead, Dent & Kirkby Stephen.

http://www.dalesbus.org/ Bus timetables with routes up all the famous dales: Wharfedale, Wensleydale and Swaledale with buses at roughly 2 hour intervals.

http://www.cumbria.gov.uk/roads-transport/public-transport-road-safety/transport/publictransport/busserv/timetables/default.asp. Buses in the Lake District head up the central spine from Keswick to Windermere on a 2 hour regular visit but also travel up the valleys of Borrowdale, Langdale and Coniston/Hawkshead.

http://traveline.info/. This is an excellent site where you simply add the relevant places you wish to start and finish your ride and the site brings up the timetable.

The walking options from bus and train stops are almost endless, roll out the relevant O/S map and start plotting your own favourites. I fully intend to start adding a new category of walk to the Yorkshire Dales and Cumbria which are all A to B walks and tie in with existing public transport options. Below are just a few excellent walks that immediately spring to mind:

Walks in the Yorkshire Dales:

Train: Start at Dent Station, return at Ribblehead via Great Knoutberry or over Whernside

Train: Start at Kirkby Stephen, return at Garsdale via the castles of Mallerstang

Bus: Start at Hawes, return at Aysgarth via Hardraw, Askrigg and Aysgarth Falls

Bus: Start at Buckden, return to Grassington via the limestone pavements of Wharfedale.

Walks in the Lake District:

Bus: Start at Bassenthwaite and return to Keswick via Ullock Pike ridge and Skiddaw

Bus: Start at Seatoller, return to Langdale via Stakes Pass

Bus: Start at Rydal, return to Keswick via the Helvellyn ridge!!

Bus: Start at Coniston, return to Langdale over Wetherlam

Enjoy your walks


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  • I was very pleased to discover the lake district bus network, making a weekend trip possible with public transport alone. We based our weekend in Ambleside, with the Crinkle Crags and Bow Fell on Saturday and a more relaxed Sunday walk to Troutbeck over Wansdale Fell. For the details see: http://hopefullyusefultosomeone.tumblr.com/post/7780677836/lake-district-weekend-by-public-transport.

  • David Killick says:

    I have organised a new minibus service from Seascale Station to Wasdale Head, connecting with trains from both Carlisle and Barrow in Furness. At the moment it only runs on Saturdays, but if it proves popular it may run more frequently in future. The service makes linear walks possible – eg walking over the pass from Wasdale Head to Eskdale, then getting the miniature steam railway back down to the coast railway at Ravenglass Other possibilities include walking from Wasdale Head over Sty Head Pass to Borrowdale for a bus at Seatoller; or over Black Sail and Scarth Gap for a bus at Buttermere. If you give me your e-mail address I’ll send you a publicity leaflet.

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