Touring Britain – on a free OAP bus pass
An elderly couple spent their summer holiday travelling the length of Britain for free – using just their bus passes.
Michael and Jacqui Burden hopped from one local to service to another as they meandered over 500 miles from their Devon home to Carlisle.
The journey involved 28 buses, 15 different bus companies and took seven and a half days – and the travelling didn't cost them a penny.
The couple, from Clyst Honiton, near Exeter, had hoped to reach John O'Groats but settled for the far north of England when they found their free passes didn't cover Scotland.
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The thrifty pair, both in their 60s, mapped out a route involving 28 different villages, towns and cities before setting off on July 29.
Their route took them through the Wescountry up to Bristol and then to Coventry and Leicester in the Midlands and then through Manchester and West Yorkshire to Carlisle in Cumbria.
They also saved more money by staying with friends and relatives across the country and spent the remaining nights in bargain hotels and B&Bs.
Michael, a retired laboratory scientist, said: "I was the damn fool who came up with the idea. I've only ever used buses occasionally but I just loved the idea of it. My wife is a superb organiser so she looked into the accommodation and the routes. Then we finished our breakfast on the Monday morning, packed up our luggage and headed to the bus stop.
"Most of the buses were on time and, overall, it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience. You see the sorts of places that you would normally miss when you're shooting past in the car."
The couple saved a total of £120.85 per person on fares, but spent virtually the same amount travelling home on the train after buying first class tickets at £103 each.
Jacqui, a music teacher, said: "We felt we deserved a little indulgence on the way back. People have said, 'for goodness sake, why didn't you take the car?' We have two – a Skoda estate and a Peugeot 106 – but where's the fun in that? We even had time to stop off for an opera en route – we were hardly slumming it."
Michael and Jacqui, who have three sons and five grandchildren, kept a diary of their holiday, listing the buses they took. They are already planning another jaunt to Norwich.
Under the government's free bus pass scheme eligible pensioners can travel on local buses anywhere in England.
Michael said: "We're well-travelled people, having been to Antarctica, South America, Tahiti, the States loads of times, you name it. But I can genuinely say this was one of our best ever trips."
Exeter to Tiverton (Stagecoach)
Tiverton to Taunton (First)
Taunton to Wells (First)
Wells to Bristol (First)
Bristol to Yate (First)
Yate to Old Sodbury (Wessex Red)
Old Sodbury to Tetbury (Cotswold CVS)
Tetbury to Stroud (Cotswold Green)
Stroud to Cheltenham (Stagecoach)
Cheltenham to Bredon (Astons Coaches)
Bredon to Evesham (Astons Coaches)
Evesham to Stratford-upon-Avon (Stagecoach)
Stratford to Coventry (Stagecoach)
Coventry to Leicester (Mike de Courcy Coaches)
Leicester to Derby (Kinch Bus – Skylink)
Derby to Buxton (Transpeak Service)
Buxton to Manchester (Transpeak Service)
Manchester to Nelson (The Witch Way)
Nelson to Keighley (Mainline)
Keighley to Haworth (TransDev)
Haworth to Keighley (TransDev)
Keighley to Skipton (TransDev)
Skipton to Settle (Malham Tarn Shuttle)
Settle to Ingleton (Malham Tarn Shuttle)
Ingleton to Kirkby Lonsdale (Kirkby Lonsdale Coach Hire)
Kirkby Lonsdale to Kendal (Stagecoach)
Kendal to Penrith (Kirkby Lonsdale Coach Hire)
Penrith to Carlisle (Stagecoach)