Penny Ibbott, 75, set off on her six-week bus journey around the edge of England from the centre of the south coast and travelled anti-clockwise
A grandma has embarked on a 2,200 mile trip across England by using solely her free bus pass to get around.
Penny Ibbott, 75, set off on a six-week bus journey around the country from the centre of the south coast travelling anti-clockwise.
The gran-of-four caught the number 700 bus towards the east coast using her free personier’s pass and begun her m mammoth journey.
Penny would spend at least eight hours travelling on different buses to reach her next bed and breakfast.
Her route took her to Berwick-upon-Tweed at the top of England, where she travelled along the Scottish border, down the west coast to Lands End, before returning home.
The penultimate leg was from Portsmouth to Chidham via Havant where her family and friends were waiting for her in a vintage, open top bus to finish the final 12 miles home.
Penn started her nearly-free adventure around the edge of England in March 2020, but had to head home after ten days when the UK entered its first lockdown.
Her second attempt saw her raise £2,500 for St Wilfrid’s Hospice in West Sussex, who looked after her husband Geoff, 81, who suffered with cancer before he died in 2016.
Penny from, Westbourne, West Sussex said: “This is something I’d been planning to do for a very long time.
“Just before the pandemic hit I started my adventure and travelled west instead of east.
“I’d reached Shrewsbury when Boris announced we were going into lockdown and I was forced to return home – it was so disappointing.
“But I didn’t lose hope, and, almost 18 months later to the day, I set off again – this time raising money for St Wilfrid’s Hospice who looked after Geoff before he died.
“The entire journey took five weeks and five days, and, in that time, I met a lot of very interesting and kind people.
“I’m pretty robust but I needed a comfortable bed to sleep in along the way, and as you can imagine choosing the bed and breakfasts was a bit of a lottery.
“I managed to use my pensioners pass for every English bus free of charge – but on the Scottish side of the border it wasn’t valid, so I had to pay a handful of times.
“Often it was like an administrative exercise because when I was on the bus I was always busy doing something.
“I’d be booking my next hotel, answering emails, contacting local press, finding out the route for the day or documenting my journey – all of which took up a lot of my day.
“My favourite leg of the journey was definitely from Minehead to Lynmouth in Devon because the scenery was just breath-taking.”
Penny began on September 6 and finished on October 16, riding a total of approximately 120 buses
Although she travelled solo, her son Robin, 45, helped her plan her journey stop by stop and piecing together her coastal route.
Prior to her trip she’d also contacted Collin Ashcroft, an operations manager at Stage Coach, who was always on hand to offer his expert travel advice.
Collin kept track of Penny on her travels and invited her friends and family to surprise her on the final leg of her trip.
He then organised a vintage, open top bus to drive Penny and her loved ones back to the exact stop she’d set off from six weeks earlier.
Penny, who volunteers at St Wilfrid’s charity shop, said: “At points it was quite unnerving when I couldn’t find a bus station or anywhere to stay.
“I had Robin’s notes to hand but even though they were very thorough I still sometimes got confused.
“There were times when I’d miss a bus and it would send me into a sort of spin because I had to travel an awfully long way.
“But, with the help of Robin and Collin, I managed to work it out – I can’t imagine the journey without their support.
“It was so surreal getting the bus on the last leg of my trip, and when I arrived all my loved ones had turned out to meet me.
“They were on this green, vintage, open top bus which Collin had organised, and my grandkids were there with welcome home signs.
“It was such a lovely moment, and Collin then drove the bus the final few miles to where it all started – and I finished the journey surrounded by my friends and family.
“I had the best time and I’m truly grateful to have had such a wonderful experience whilst raising money for a cause so close to my heart!”