As the first significant snow falls across England, an observational report is provided by Brian Bell as regards the difficulties experinced in Cumbria, from the aftermath of the heavy rains. He has also provided the modern day bus images.
The first of the two journeys of the day on the new (started on 4th
January) Pooley Bridge shuttle, the 0932 ex Penrith Rail Station is seen
at Penrith Bus Station. Interestingly there is a driver change here,
after just a few minutes service, as effectively this shuttle bus also
works as the ferry bus for Whinfell leg 104 drivers to get to / from the
Local press reports suggest a new bridge should be open
at Pooley Bridge by Easter. As you enter that village, some wag has put
masking tape over the "Bridge" part of the village sign, effectively
renaming it "Pooley" Buses turn by means of a U-turn outside the Crown
Inn. Not surprisingly I was the only person on the bus out to Pooley
Bridge, but we picked up 2 pensioners there for Penrith, no doubt
pleased to have a bus service again, but clearly they were unaware of the bus
not serving Penrith Bus Station on the way in, as they ended up at the
Railway Station not very happy, whereas they could have alighted in the
Eamont Bridge is also damaged, and therefore
closed and buses have to divert via A66 to near Brougham Castle, and
then via an extensive one way system to reach normal line of route by
the Crown pub at the south end of the village of Eamont Bridge. Outward
the bus goes via the lanes through Fremington, Moorhouse and Clifton
Dykes to the A6, returning via the A6 and Pembroke House to reach the
B6262 at Brougham. All these sections other than the A66 and A6 are not
usually served by bus.
The normal two hourly 508 to Patterdale
has to divert between Penrith and Waterfoot (on Ullswater) via the
A692 past Dalemain House, another long section normally bus less.
had totally failed to pick up that the X4 and X5 Penrith to Workington
is now Stagecoach Gold with double-deckers, although the X4 is having to
run along the X5 route at present due to another damaged bridge.
The diverted section of 508 to avoid the damaged bridges at Eamont and
Pooley is not especially exciting, although offers fine views of the
National Trust Dalemain House and the very high and fast flowing River
The normal route is regained at Waterfoot. Ullswater is
particularly high still as well, with sections of the road still
flooded, but easily passable. There is a short section where part of the
road has collapsed into the water, controlled by traffic lights, and a
few places where the retaining wall has succumbed, but generally there
are few signs of any major problems until you get to Glenridding
Village, where the banks of the beck are having to be totally rebuilt,
and businesses are still clearing up after being flooded out four times.
As can be seen in the photo, a 38-seat Plaxton bodied Dennis Dart was
operating the 508, which I guess is usual since the last of the Volvo B10Ms
were taken off. On the 1320 ex.Penrith I was the only passenger all the
way, but the 1420 ex.Patterdale was patronised by one lady from
Patterale to Glenridding and two gents from there to Penrith Hospital.
The driver was saying its never busy in the winter but the current
situation seems to have reduced loadings even further still.
asked the driver whether the open top operation between Penrith and
Patterdale last summer was a success or not, and he reckoned loadings
were good on pleasant days, but no one could understand why the open
topper was not used on through journeys over the Kirkstone Pass to
Windermere, as he had done his route learning for the route on a Volvo
Olympian, so double-deckers do fit. Maybe next year? But there has
been a change of management since last summer, so it may not run at all
I had feared that the "via M6"
would entail them using the M6 all the way to Tebay thence as the Cumbria Classic Coaches' route
570 or even to the Sedburgh Road (albeit needing to divert around the
low rail bridge in Kendal) - both of which I have done on deckers in the
past. But fortunately the timetable is headed via M6/A6 and the
Motorway is only used from Junction 40 at Penrith to Junction 39 near
Shap Summit (which includes the section of Motorway where the northbound
and southbound carriageways are a considerable distance apart - so you
need to do it both ways!). After that, they run across Hardendale Fell
to join the A6 just south of Shap.
The section of route between
Shap and Kendal along the A6 past Shap Fell and Selside is extremely
scenic, and is highly recommended, especially in a double-decker.
sure whether in years gone by this road ever had a regular bus service,
as far as I recall there was just an early morning Apollo8 106 that ran
that way, something I always intended getting around to doing, but
never did before it got withdrawn, so am especially pleased to get a
chance to do it now.
The driver was saying that the use made of
the 555A is not much, although today my three journeys had 10, 8 and 4
passengers. However it certainly does not justify double-deck operation,
so may be worth doing before they realise that !!
Once the road
around the west shore of Thirlmere is opened for the 555 bus, the 555A
will obviously cease.,The driver said he had no idea how this Thirlmere
road service was going to be provided, or indeed whether it would even
be Stagecoach doing it. However he said it is possible to get a double-decker round the road, as it has already been done once when there was
Traffic into Kendal from the north was a nightmare, mainly because of another damaged bridge, as a result a Dennis Trident
was being used as an extra bus on the 43/a in order to maintain a decent
sevice on the normally linked 41/a and 43/a routes.
also confirmed there are scheduled double-deck journeys on the 45 to /
from Burneside on a school day, he thinks the 0905 is one of them. He
also said that the only Kendal local route that cannot use double-deckers is the 42/a.
As usual the 555 and 755 seemed to be all
double-deck. Since my last trip on the route, the 555 has a small
additional double run north of Carnforth to serve the Pine Lake resort.
A reminder of better days for the 508 route. Previously as the 108 it was operated by Bristol VRs from the Stagecoach Cumberland fleet. Illustrated is fleet number 434 as it climbed up onto Pooley Bridge bound for Patterdale in September 1998.