Tuesday 19 September 2023

Fort William Sojourn (8)

Another Nice Mess You've Gotten Us Unto

Yesterday's blog was pre-prepared but fbb bravely decided to add a summary of the return journey from Fort William to Seaton. It was typed up "en route" and completed upon return to fbb mansions. The old bloke DID check and correct all the typing errors. Honest!

But it appears that he failed to save the corrected version - so appalling drivel appeared until about 0930 yesterday when the corrections were (mostly?) redone correctly. For those who gave up, this section plus a bit more is re-published below.

with amendments


Yesterday's schedule. (Actually Sunday's schedule as you will, of course, remember??)

0650  depart Fort William

0820  Lay-by caff Tarbet 
 0830  Loch Lomondside (PNB only)
By far the nicest stop of the day! It was called Bonnie and Bens ...
... and, as there was no room to turn a coach around, exit was past a no exit sign ...
... and round a spooky little twiddle.
Thank goodness for rear axle steering.
Sadly, no time to take in the views or a cruise!

1020  Moffat (picnic purchased at co-op)
Concours d'Elegance of FOUR Lochs and Glens coaches, two from Fort William and two from their L:och Awe hotel

1205  Southwaite Services for fuel (lots)

1427 Knutsford Services
By far the worst. Coach out the back near the filling station - coach parking area full of cars ...
... M6 just a barrier away ...
..; and, to add to the joy, on the flight path to Manchester Airport.
TEN planes roared by during the fbb's peaceful rest break. But the old folk did finish their packed lunch outside on a very dirty table as pictured above.

Deep joy!

1840  Gordano Services
fbb was well done-in by now and forgot to take any pictures until the coach was pulling out.
Again., coach parking is an afterthought as per this on-line but dated picture ...
... and a good walk to the facilities and to the "facilities"!

1955  set down Ilminster

2010  Chard

2030  Axminster

2045  Seaton

The final drop off was to be at Honiton.

A wearisome journey BUT WELL WORTH IT for the gorgeous scenery and no noticeable rain in Scotland. Sunshine EVERY day!

On the other hand, on the M5 ...

And a P.S to the above
The organisation at Lochs and Glens is impressive. In essence Scottish based drivers do most of the work but with a "shuttle driver" collecting and dropping off. The fbb's outward shuttle took them to Michaelwood near Gloucester but, because of drivers' hours concerns the return man met us at Gordano.

Pronunciation note. For years fbb has pronounced  it Gore-Dah-No but the correct way is to say Gore-Day-No.

Anyway the shuttle driver completed his task at Honiton some time soon after 2100. His duties then required him to clean the coach ready for yesterday's schedule. His first shuttle pick up was Plymouth at 0500.

Thanks to a very efficient Lochs and Glens web site, fbb could not tell you the ultimate destination of the 0500 from Plymouth as it has destinated, departed and disappeared on-line.

For those who are interested in these things, the company's coaches cost approx £300,000 each and the motor fbb travelled in had done over 300,000 miles. The company sells them on after just 3 years and "gets good money for them". Lochs and Glens do not maintain their own coaches. Part of the purchase deal includes all the necessary maintenance and safety services all done by Volvo at Bothwell or Cardonald (both sort of Glasgow).

The fbbs are intending to book another holiday for 2024. Recommendation indeed!
And The Rest
fbb has drawn a map or, more correctly, added some bus routes (rather crudely) to an existing map of the areas to the west of Fort William. (click on the map to enlarge it)

 So far, fbb has explored routes 507 and 506 (in that order). Today we complete the set with the 502 and 522.

No Ferry On The 502

Readers may remember that the only main road entrance to the sticky out bits as shown above is via the main Mallaig A830 road and a left hand turn at Lochailort.
Remember the Inn?
In some ways the 502 is the least interesting of the three as it mainly follows reasonably wide A roads.
But there is still plenty of scenery to enjoy.




Sheil Bridge
That is, of course, Sheil as in Loch Sheil as in Sheil Buses and Coaches. 

And so to ...


... replete with shop, filling station, bus shelter and public conveniences. Who could want for more?

The 502 from Fort Willam extends on request to Salen where we were in yesterday's blog. Here is a map.
Here is the timetable for the 502 ...
... and the inwards journey from Acharacle.
Six days a week luxury!

Note that, on Saturday you leave Acharacle at 1200 arriving at Fort William at 1525 then leaving to go home at 1530.. fbb doubts whether you would get many errands done in five minutes.


But stranger is route 522.
At first glance it looks very much like a Loch Eil Circular with a ferry crossing from Fort Willam like that at Corran. But you won't get any bus on the Camasnagaul Ferry, seen here at the old ferry terminal in Fort William just outside where the railway station isn't.
Here a montage of the view in 1940 from the terminal (now a restaurant) looking towards the fbb's hotel with station far left followed by a similar montage from today.
Below is the Camasnagaul slipway, street lamp, waiting room (!) and bike shed, all on the other side of Loch Linnhe. 
If we enlarge Sheil Buses map we see that it is not a circular ...
... but relies on the foot passenger ferry to complete the circle (or maybe to complete the allantoid route).
So a circular multi modal trip is possible - yippee.

Here is the timetable outbound via A830 and A851 to the ferry ...
So an 1130 from Fort William and hop back on the ferry; OR
... ferry first then 1233 back; but both only run on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

But how frequent is the little ferry?
The view from both sides of Loch Eil are wonderful, but those from the southern shore are, for obvious reasons, less well known.
There is Ben Nevis, hiding round the corner.

Did fbb make this trip?

NO - boo hiss. The plan was to run the ferry plus 522 combo on the one day when the booked trip out was a duplicate of last year's. Somehow the idea of three and a half hours in Oban seemed less than attractive is a "repeat". BUT the trip was scheduled for a Saturday when the 522 does not run.

So the 522 ride didn't happen. Boo!

As  bonus, our driver added an "optional" (at modest extra charge) which reduced the time at Oban to the length of a lunch at 'Spoons. So, although fbb still hasn't ventured into the sticky out bit, Saturdays' outing was much improved.

The Friday and Saturday trips did, however, give fbb the opportunity to sample some more of the Public Transport Experience c/o the Highland Regional Council.

Bet you can''t wait!

 Next Highland Bus Stop blog : Wednesday 20th September 


  1. A tiny point . . . the Saturday 502 arrives at FW at 13:25 . . . so two hours for shopping!!

  2. @
    'Roshven' not 'Hoshven'. The original plan for the West Highland line enviaged it terminating there rather than Mallaig.

  3. Some years ago I used Shiel Buses to get from Mallaig to Kilchoan (thence by early evening ferry to Tobermory) by changing at Lochailort and Acharacle - the bus extended from Acharacle (or Salen, I can’t remmeber) to Kilchoan on request and I was the only customer on board. I think the bus and driver then had to return to Acharacle, as it doesn’t appear to match the current timetable which has a Kilchoan-based bus and driver doing the out-and-back trip to Fort William with the afternoon westbound trip much earlier than when I travelled.