10 wonderful walks via scenic bus journeys
Enjoy a great day out walking from a bus stop
Whether you are trying to reduce your carbon footprint or ease the financial burden on your household budget by not using a car, travelling by bus to reach your walking route can be an enjoyable and sustainable option.
Top tips for bus travel
The most comprehensive website for UK bus timetables is bustimes.org which allows you to track your bus on a map. It’s also worth checking out Plusbus, a discount price ticket for unlimited bus and tram travel connected to your train ticket. Those aged 60-plus who live in Scotland, Wales or London, or 66-plus in the rest of England, can apply for a free bus pass to travel for free. Disabled people of all ages in all parts of Britain can also apply for a free bus pass.
10 glorious walks served by scenic bus routes
1. Dalby Forest, North Yorkshire
The epic, three-hour route of bus 840, from Leeds and York to Whitby, was declared the UK’s most scenic bus ride is a 2018 poll. From the top deck enjoy views across wild moors to the distant sea. Dalby Forest is a fine place for a wander, and arriving by bus means you’ll avoid the £10 parking fee.
The 840 stops every couple of hours outside the Fox and Rabbit pub, where you can follow wooded tracks down into the forest. From the southern edge of Dalby, you can ramble on along streamside paths, through gentle Ryedale countryside, into pretty Thornton-le-Dale with pubs, tearooms, chocolate shops and hourly buses back to York.
Find out more: goodjourney.org.uk/attractions/dalby-forest/
2. Burton Bradstock, Dorset
Rolling over the ancient Dorset downs above Chesil beach, bus X53 (Weymouth to Bridport) is another of Britain’s most beautiful routes and useful for accessing stetches of the South West Coast Path. From Weymouth’s sandy seafront or station, the path meanders past the harbour and out through the suburbs. Beyond ochre-stoned Abbotsbury, with its hilltop chapel, the views get really spectacular, stretching over miles of surf and shingle and inland to the distant pine-topped cone of Colmers Hill.
A three-mile linear hike from Burton Bradstock to West Bay passes thatched cottages and crumbling cliffs. There are some outstanding pubs and beach cafés at each end too.
4. Grasmere, Cumbria
The Lake District has some stunning buses – frequent, reliable (compared to many other rural areas) and sometimes open-topped. Hop on bus 599 or 555 from Windermere station for views over England’s longest lake and a walk that takes in two former homes of the poet William Wordsworth.
From Rydal Mount, follow the old Coffin Road along the bracken-cloaked slopes of Nab Scar, with views across island-dotted Rydal Water, to reach little whitewashed Dove Cottage, one minute away from a bus stop. The cottage is part of newly-revamped Wordsworth Grasmere, which offers a discount if you come by bus. For a longer walk, press on through the village, stopping off at its famous gingerbread shop (grasmeregingerbread.co.uk), and loop back around the lakes.
Find out more: walklakes.co.uk/walk_76
4. Amble to Alnmouth, Northumberland
Nature-lovers flock to the Northumberland coast in autumn, when wading birds stop off to refuel and wintering geese and ducks arrive from the north. Bus X18, from Newcastle to Alnwick and beyond, is another monumental route. The bus route offers loads of walking options and wonderful views of castles, beaches and marram-mantled dunes.
Ramble along the coastal estuaries from Amble to Alnmouth, where there’s a train station. The walk passes Warkworth Castle (which offers a discount for bus travellers) and several bus stops, making it easy to shorten. Look out for dunlin and curlew along the winding River Coquet, and in Alnmouth, eight miles north, plovers, wigeon and teal.
Find our more: northumberlandcoastpath.org/
5. Hatfield Forest, Essex
Herds of fallow deer still run through the trees and meadows of this former royal hunting forest. Around the lake, created when the area was landscaped in the 18th century, there are coppery oaks and beeches. Thousand-year-old hedge maples and coppiced hornbeams contrast with stately evergreens like cedar, redwood and pine. Bus 508, from Bishop’s Stortford to Stansted Airport, stops at the Green Man in Takeley (near point 4 on the linked map) and saves walkers the £8 parking fee.
Paths and grassy rides crisscross the forest and the 15-mile Flitch Way runs along one edge, bright in autumn with scarlet rosehips and crab apples. Or follow the Three Forests Way for four miles to Hatfield Broad Oak, with its great pubs and hourly bus 305 to Stansted and Stortford.
6. Glyme Valley and Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire
Chipping Norton has been a thriving market town since the 13th century. There’s a big, beautiful church, several pubs (a car-free walk lets you make the most of these) and bus S3 arrives hourly from Oxford. The bus looks out across breathtaking Cotswold landscapes, rolling through the grassy hills and treacle-coloured villages, full of late-summer hollyhocks and roses round cottage doors.
You can walk from the town to the Hook Norton brewery or the spooky Rollright Stones, or get off the S3 in Enstone and follow the little River Glyme to Chipping Norton. The gentle 5½-mile walk along the Glyme Valley passes medieval villages and flowering grasslands. For a longer hike, walk all 16 miles of the Glyme Valley Way from Woodstock.
Find out more: osmaps.com/country-walking-glyme-valley-oxfordshire
7. Fen Drayton, Cambridgeshire
Europe’s longest guided busway, Busway A/B from Cambridge to St Ives starts with a sightseeing crawl through Cambridge, heading past the 12th century Round Church and over the River Cam. Or you can hop on at Cambridge North station for a quicker trip. Get off at RSPB Fen Drayton nature reserve for huge lakes and golden reedbeds teeming with buntings, warblers and lapwings. Look out on autumn evenings for murmurations of starlings swirling through the sky.
Fen Drayton has paths around the lakes. For a linear walk using the Busway, alight at Swavesey, site of a medieval port and priory, walk six miles through the reserve and along the River Great Ouse, before crossing a 15th-century bridge with a chapel on it, into the town of St Ives for tea.
Find out more: rspb.org.uk/fen-drayton-lakes/
8. Sherwood Forest, Nottinghamshire
Whether you’re into Robin Hood or wildlife (or both) head to Sherwood Forest. It’s easy to imagine medieval outlaws hiding among the ancient oaks and you can hear woodpeckers drumming as you wander through the trees. The Sherwood Arrow from Nottingham’s Victoria bus station runs through fields of buttercups and ox-eye daisies to stop outside the forest’s new visitor centre.
From here, several trails set off to explore the forest. It’s only half a mile to Major Oak, a veteran tree propped up on stilts like a huge leafy spider with a trunk that is eleven metres around. You can also follow the Robin Hood Way to the peaceful sandy acres of neighbouring Budby South Forest.
Find out more: visitsherwood.co.uk/explore-the-forest/walks-and-trails/
9. Loch Leven, Perth and Kinross
A beautiful place to visit year-round, the rowans and wild cherries are russet and amber around Loch Leven in autumn; the aspens turn quivering gold and the sessile oaks are sepia. The comfortable new electric Ember buses stop near Loch Leven on their way from Edinburgh or Glasgow to Dundee (book online, £4.40 each way Edinburgh to Kinross: ember.to).
Half an hour’s stroll through the town of Kinross brings you to Loch Leven, stopping for coffee along the way at Unorthodox Roasters (unorthodoxroasters.co.uk). A 13-mile trail leads round the edge of the loch, where thousands of pink-footed geese arrive from Iceland every winter. Look out too for roe deer, red squirrels, and birds of prey, including white-tailed eagles.
Find out more: rspb.org.uk/loch-leven/
10. Aber Falls, Gwynedd
With dippers rock-hopping round a cascading river and woods changing colour under atmospheric skies, the circular walk to the 40-metre Aber Falls is a gem. Bus 5 runs every 20 minutes along the north Wales coast from Bangor to Llandudno, passing the towering neo-Norman walls of Penrhyn Castle. Ten minutes further, the bus reaches Abergwyngregyn, a village two miles downstream from Aber Falls.
The path to the falls has fine views of the coast as far as Anglesey and of golden alders, birch and hazel along the valley. Ten minutes’ stroll the other way from the bus stop, brings you to the Aber Falls distillery (aberfallsdistillery.com), which recently launched its first single malt whisky.
Find out more: visitsnowdonia.info/rhaeadr-aber-falls-circular-walk
* Adapted from an article in Walk magazine Autumn 2023 by Phoebe Taplin. Bus route details and fares information is correct at the time of writing. Please check latest bus company information before setting off for your walk.
Great places to explore with your four-legged friend, from thrilling heights and fantastic forests to sweeping beaches.
Work up an appetite and a thirst with these gentle walks visiting some of Britain’s most memorable pubs.