A POLL of 15,000 people recently voted the No 840 Britain’s most scenic bus route, a claim intermittently and immodestly reproduced on the double decker destination board when properly it should say “Whitby”.

Formally it begins in Leeds – “Yorkshire’s amazing day out,” it says on the side of the bus – though the 75-minute run to York may not be supposed scenic central.

No offence to Taddy, understand, but there’s a limit to how much excitement one day might comfortably contain.

The column catches the 10.25 from York railway station, having first paid just £5.80 for a TransPennine single from Darlington – rail card, understand – and thereafter nothing at all.

To codgers it’s all bus passable. What’s that they say about the best things in life?

HAPPILY there’s still room at the top, though with what football grounds used to call a restricted view. It meant sitting behind a stanchion.

The Coastliner also offers free wi-fi and phone charging points, even some tables, but would further benefit from a tea trolley, someone selling ice creams and, crucially, a netty.

Test Match Special, come to think, would be quite nice, too.

On the back of the seat in front a little round thing flashes, slyly. Perhaps it’s a sly spy camera. We should be told.

The bus also has one of these new-fangled automatons which announces every stop. Sometimes they’re remarkably specific. At Toronto, outside Bishop Auckland, the No 1 announces that the next one’s for “28-32 Addison Gardens.”

Goodness knows where No 26 gets off.

By York’s outskirts the 840 is chocker, wick wi’ Whitby folk, the driver obliged to ask passengers to refrain from leaning against the bells.

“Why is it called a Ghostliner?” a little lad asks his granddad.

“It’s a Coastliner,” says granddad.

“I still don’t believe in ghosts,” says the bairn.

Not far past Layerthorpe Asda, some four-legged creatures in a field cause much excitement amid a youthful Leeds contingent. Country folk know them as sheep.

Before Malton, a teenager with a ribbon in her hair and not much else between her ears, announces that she’s seriously bored.

Her mother says that there’s nothing she can do about it, though fellow travellers might have offered one or two ideas.

A fat bloke’s brought his sandwiches and, by the look of it, about three other people’s as well.

It’s a bit like the mystery trips we used to go on as kids – misery trips, my old dad used to call them – though the real mystery was why they almost always ended up at South Shields.

The child’s still at it until Flamingoland, where happily they alight. Her mother says other folk are bored with her being bored. What’s that about scenic and not heard?

There’s a serious temptation to have a nap, but probably something in the journalistic code of conduct which precludes it. Besides, the best is yet to come.

THERE’S a rather large question mark over the poll, which is that the route in second place – 243 votes behind the 840 – was the stupendous service 914 from Uig, on Skye’s west coast, to Glasgow.

Benjamin Disraeli’s celebrated observation about lies, damned lies and statistics may have to be reconsidered: for statistics, read surveys.

Thornton-le-Dale’s pretty-pictured many a chocolate box, but the A64’s not the Road to the Isles, nor might Pickering Pond be supposed Loch Lomond or Goathland, its charms notwithstanding, Glencoe.

For the first 90 minutes it’s green and pleasant, but not what you’d call breathtaking. The No 1 to Tow Law’s every bit as bonny as this, the Little White Bus up Swaledale very much more so. At Pickering, indeed, it’s further tempting to join the North Yorkshire Moors Railway instead.

Thereafter the moors open up, sun blessed and splendid, the only problem that the journey time from York to Whitby is almost two-and-a-half hours and there’s both a limit to attraction distraction and a very obvious paradox.

It mightn’t have taken Captain Cook much longer to get to Australia as it takes the 840 to get from Leeds to Whitby. How can such a transport of delight be so great a pain in the backside?

We’re by the seaside on time to the minute, passengers arthritically alighting, the bus taking so long to empty that it’s almost reminiscent of the magic porridge pot (which, it will be recalled, never emptied at all.) How did they get so many folk on there? How come none had a deep vein thrombosis?

The whole thing may probably be summed in the phrase once much used of workmen’s club acts in the 1970s: canny turn, but gans on ower long.

Still, I’m in a much superior position to almost everyone else on the top deck. I’m going back on the train.

LIKE much of the Highlands and Islands, Uig owes a large slice of its existence and its economy to Caledonian MacBrayne ferries, prompting familiar doggerel among the natives.

The earth belongs unto the Lord

And all that it contains,

Except for the kyles and the western isle,

And they belong to MavBrayne’s.

Then there’s the 915, 9.30 daily from the stop near the pier where the phone box door hangs off, the product either of a particularly vicious Hebridean hurricane or of a Friday night jock. The latter, most likely.

We happened to be on Skye last week, the temptation to jump aboard comfortably resisted. If not quite been there and done that, then certainly got the DVT-shirt.

A HARBOURSIDE obelisk marks the visit of Edward VII and Queen Alexandra in 1902, though they probably didn’t come on the 915. A pierhead café offers a “large breakfast” of black pudding, white pudding, fruit pudding, tattie scones, haggis and very much else besides. The juke box, unfairly, plays Dirty Old Town.

The 915, it should be understood, is a stopping bus, none of those specious, speed-dated and X-rated prefixes but timetabled to call at places like Torlundy (bus shelter), Glencoe (Chair lift road end) and Crianlarich (public toilets) and nearly two hours before even it leaves that most sceptred isle.

You’ve heard of speed bonny boat like a bird on the wing, over the sea to Skye? The same may not perhaps be said of the bonny bus. The journey to Glasgow takes a few minutes short of eight hours – even the No 1 to Tow Law gets there quicker than that – but almost every moment’s memorable.

The bus arrives in Uig just before 9am, more or less coinciding with the ferry from South Uist. A full complement awaits the boat’s outward sailing to Harris, headed by a motor biker with bagpipes – a piper at the gates of Dornoch if not, not quite, of dawn.

Seven or eight hump from boat to bus, though whether for the daunting duration goodness knows.

In a large font, the main destination board simply says “Glasgow”, with rolling script beneath breathlessly trying to remember all the stops. Maybe it’s for reasons of space that it doesn’t say “Britain’s second most scenic bus route”, maybe because it’s in a huff.

There’s a Glaswegian alternative, briefer and more familiar; “We wiz robbed.”

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