Public transport in Cumbria6th May 2007
Public transport provision in Cumbria is a classic curate’s egg, good in parts. As it happens, the western part of the county fares much better than the eastern side. For a walker in the Lake District, options are plentiful but they decline a lot when you start to consider following the likes of the Pennine Way. In any case, Cumbria County Council provides useful timetable information for any bus services that are likely to be running.
Being the honeypot that it is, it should not surprise you that bus services within the Lake District National Park are in good supply and they connect with train services, after a fashion. Anywhere with literary connections is bound to attract the crowds and will be well served by buses. Coniston, Rydal and Grasmere fall into that category and it is good news for walkers. However, any walking destinations away from these may not get the same level of service. Wasdale is the most extreme example here but Kentmere and Patterdale also fall into the same category, albeit to a lesser extent. Another thing to watch is that bus services can be seasonal too but this is all documented in the biannual guides that are produced.
There are a number of reasons why travel in eastern Cumbria takes my interest: the Dales Way, the Howgill Fells and the aforementioned Pennine Way. Am I becoming something of a connoisseur in my voyages off the beaten track? I am not sure that I am but getting to the likes of Sedbergh, Dufton and Alston would be very useful for exploring the above. The Settle-Carlisle railway line is a help for getting to Dufton, even if a walk from Appleby-in-Westmorland is involved but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Nevertheless, it cannot do everything. Also, Sunday bus services are akin to the proverbial hens’ teeth and weekday services aren’t that plentiful either, particularly on Saturdays. It all needs some planning and maybe a few days of point-to-point walking to explore these parts. Nevertheless, Wright Brothers‘ summer only extension of their 888 service will be a boon when it comes to exploring around Alston and doing the sections of the Pennine Way nearest to the town. Weekday and Saturday connections from Carlisle and Haltwhistle help too. Eccentricities not withstanding, services between Kendal and Kirkby Stephen make access to the Howgill Fells a possibility.