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We're celebrating green holidays

Jess Fitch's picture
Photo: family on bikes by the sea

Whether you take a UK holiday by bus, explore Europe by train, or set off on a cycle path... you don't need to fly to have an adventure.

Sustainable transport such as buses, coaches and trains, boats and bikes - and good old feet - offer some of the most memorable travel experiences. Sadly bus cuts, high rail fares and poor walking and cycling conditions make some trips a real challenge -  but there are still plenty of adventures to be had. Don't believe us? Read these stories.

Michael Palin

"My best ever holiday was probably the very first holiday I remember. I was seven years old and getting from Sheffield to Sheringham in Norfolk in 1950 was the equivalent of crossing the Gobi Desert, involving complicated rail connections at places like Bourne and Sleaford. My father had brought his bike along in the luggage van and nearly went berserk at Sleaford, shouting at the guard and just managing to rescue his bike before the train was shunted off to some other destination.

"At Melton Constable in Norfolk the line ran out and we completed the journey to the sea by bus. It went very slowly, giving me maximum chance to get excited about seeing open sea for the first time in my life.

"For me at the time it was an extraordinary adventure with a terrific climax, and it remains one of the most memorable journeys of my life."
- Michael Palin

Hilary Bradt

"Undoubtedly my best holiday by bus was when my friend Janice and I used local buses to travel from Land's End to Lowestoft to celebrate the issuing of the first concessionary bus pass in 2008. So that was the furthest westerly point in England to the furthest east. It took us eight days and we had a brilliant time, seeing little villages we never knew existed, enjoying spectacular scenery, walking rural footpaths between bus routes, and staying in a variety of B&Bs. Our nights were mostly unplanned since we never knew where we’d end up, and every day was different and interesting."
- Hilary Bradt, travel writer and founder of Bradt Travel Guides (publishers of Bus-Pass Britain)

Leila Hancox

"The holiday that springs to mind was when I travelled to Cornwall by train. We got the train to Penzance and then the local bus to Porthcurno where we were staying in a tiny apartment on the side of a guest house. It was a normal double-decker bus and it went through lots of beautiful countryside and up and down narrow lanes, catching the trees on the roof. It was a bit hair-raising at times. It was also breathtaking when we descended down to Sennen Cove with a big wide open bay, beach and impressive waves all along the coastline. It was February and bright blue skies and sunshine for the most part. The beach at Porthcurno was just a short stroll away and it was wide with golden sands and hardly any people because, I suppose, of the time of year. We took the coast path up to Lands End one way and Mousehole the other and discovered lots of little inlets and tiny coves. Another day, we took a bus to the Lizard Peninsular and on yet another visited the Eden Project, all the while making good use of the double-decker bus which wound its way up and down the country lanes."
- Leila Hancox, Campaign for Better Transport

Lianna Etkind"Four years ago, I travelled to Israel on a freight ship. Whilst the main aim was to reduce my impact on the climate, I was also fascinated to gain a window into the world of freight shipping, the circulatory system on which so much of our economy depends. The journey took a whole week. With no internet or phones, my days were spent mostly reading, writing, and watching the Greek and Turkish coastlines slide by - certainly much slower than flying, but infinitely more relaxing."
- Lianna Etkind, Campaign for Better Transport

Roger French

"How often have you heard retired people remark: 'I just don't know how I found the time to go to work'? Well, that's me too. It's three years since I hung up my Brighton & Hove Bus Company Managing Director gloves and took retirement. After a lifelong career running buses I'm now throughly enjoying my passion for travelling all over Britain by bus and train. I've completed rides on trains and trams on every piece of publicly available track and been on every inch of London's extensive bus network, tram operations, Underground and Overground lines as well as the River bus and cable car! But most enjoyable of all has been travelling by bus throughout the fantastic countryside Britain has to offer as well as exploring vibrant cities, smaller towns and delightful villages and rural areas."
- Roger French: read Roger's guest blog about his bus travels

James MacColl"Last year I went by train all the way to Beijing from Moscow using the extraordinary feat of engineering that is the Trans Siberian Railway - the trip of a lifetime! As well as experiencing the great Russian and Chinese capitals, we stopped off in Siberia and Mongolia where we got to paddle in the world's deepest (and I'm pretty sure coldest!) lake and ride horses on the steppe. But just as amazing were the astonishing landscapes we saw from our cabin window, including mindbogglingly vast taiga forest and the Gobi desert, punctuated with herds of bactrian camels - places I'd probably never set eyes on if it weren't for the train."
- James MacColl, Campaign for Better Transport

Lianna Etkind

"My most amazing green holiday was cycling across the south of England in a rickshaw. My partner and I dreamed up the journey as a way of raising money for the charity Action Village India: one of us would cycle from up front, while the other person sat in the back to map-read, pass up snacks - and, when the going got steep, to jump out and push! Travelling at rickshaw-pace gave us a real sense of how the landscape changed across the different counties: slow travel at its best." 
- Lianna Etkind, Campaign for Better Transport

Rhodri Clark"It's received wisdom in Britain that car ownership is liberating, but catching the bus can be more liberating still if you're heading to the countryside for a walk. If you've arrived by bus, you can finish your walk at a different bus stop instead of having to return to your starting point. In mountainous areas, you're free to plot a route on the map which connects two different valleys, either side of the uplands. Dedicated long-distance walkers break Britain's long-distance National Trails into sections between bus stops which they can complete in a day."
- Rhodri Clark: read Rhodri's guest blog about how bus cuts are affecting tourism

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Collage of top 5 beauty spots

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