On The Buses

Lovering’s car showroom is very obvious near the sea front at Combe Martin, and, as was often the case, the company was he local bus and coach operator.  Here is their OWB parked on the road the leads up the hill (left) to Ilfracombe.

The company ran excursions, as here to Plymouth …

… and a selection of local bus routes … 

… e.g. to Woolacombe and the delightfully picturesque Hunters Inn seen below when Western National went there.

In recent times, buses to Combe Martin have been provided by local firm Filers. The company has had a chequered history with periods of heavy competition with the national operators followed by retrenchment. 

Here is its most recent timetable extract for the 301.

Then in December 2022, Filers withdrew from the Combe Martin service …

… and Stagecoach stepped in. The timetable has a similar hourly frequency …

… but now offering better connections with trains from/to Exeter. No 3 son kindly snapped a 301 awaiting its departure time near the sea front at Combe Martin.

The bus stands only a few yards from Loverings historic depot!

But the big pull-out in the area came just over ten years ago. The Barnstaple chunk of North Devon was Western National territory branded pre-privatisation as Red Bus.

Red Bus went to First and was later under attack from Stagecoach which, according to the locals, did a much better job.

First negotiated a deal to sell to Stagecoach …

… but Stagecoach backed out.

In a move which would become commonplace for First, the Barbie Bus people walked away leaving the way open for Stagecoach domination.

In Ilfracombe, todays set-up is but a shadow of the old Western National days with Stagecoach offering its recent acquisition of the 301 (GREEN) together with its trunk route 21/21A …
… to Barnstaple, Bideford and Westward Ho!/Appledore.
But don’t expect route branding any more!
The Stagecoach map of the Ilfracombe area is now very thin indeed!

There are, of course …

… other services in the area …

… which are very minor, providing only occasional trips of a perceived “essential” nature. 
The closest to a “real” service is the 31 to Woolacombe.

This is in the hands of Taw and Torridge …

… far better known as a luxury coach operator.

Also in Woolacombe you will find a very mixed bag service 303 from Barnstaple still run by Filers.

Memories of Lovingtons again.

And, talking of Filers, fbb snapped the rear end of their service from Barnstaple to Lynton and Lynmouth on Saturday last.

Amongst other things, these routes also provide a link with trains at Barnstaple.

So, on the part of the North Devon Coast visited by the Golden couple, you would have to say that bus services are generally sparse. You can get from Barnstaple to most places (click om the map for an enlarged view) …

… and you might even be able to get back!

The network (if you can call it that) is well worth an explore, but you would need longer than the fbb’s extended weekend and very careful planning
And don’t try anything on Sundays!
The fbbs travel home today (Wednesday) but one more Holiday Variety blog is needed because of other areas of domestic catch-up post family festivities.
 Next Back Home Variety blog :Thursday 27th April 
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