Grandma takes 2000 mile trip round edge of England - using only pensioner bus pass
The epic journey took almost six weeks and 120 buses
A grandma has completed a 2,200 mile trip around the edge of England and Scotland by bus, using only her free pensioners' bus pass.
Penny Ibbott travelled anti-clockwise around the country in an epic journey, starting from the centre of the south coast on the number 700 bus from Chidham in West Sussex.
Along the way, the 75-year-old stopped in bed and breakfasts and many coastal towns, spending at least eight hours every weekday travelling on buses.
Upon reaching Berwick-upon-Tweed at the top of England, she travelled along the Scottish border, down the west coast to Lands End, before returning home.
The trip was all to raise money for St Wilfrid's Hospice in West Sussex. The hospice had looked after her late husband Geoff, 81, who suffered from cancer before he died in 2016.
Penny had initially attempted the epic journey in March 2020 but had to abandon the expedition after 10 days when the country was placed in the first lockdown.
However the second attempt went ahead and saw the mum-of-three raise £2,500 for the hospice.
Originally from Westbourne, West Sussex, Ibbott 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 [Johnson] 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."
She admitted that at times it was "like an administrative exercise " as she booked hotels, answered emails and planned routes whilst on a bus and that the choice of bed and breakfast could be "a bit of a lottery."
Ibbott began on September 6 and finished on October 16, riding a total of approximately 120 buses.
Although she managed to use her free bus pass for every English bus, she did have to pay "a handful of times" in Scotland as the bus pass wasn't valid there.
Her son Robin helped plan her journey throughout the trip, piecing together his mum's coastal route.
The gran-of-four had also got in touch with Collin Ashcroft, an operations managers at Stage Coach, who kept track of Ibbott on her travels and was on hand to offer his expert travel advice.
Ibbott, 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."
For the final leg of the trip (Portsmouth to Chidham via Havant), Collin organised a vintage open-top bus for Ibbott and invited her friends and family to join her for the final 12 miles home, something that was kept as a surprise.
And when she finally returned to the exact bus stop she'd started her journey from six weeks earlier, the pensioner got a hero's welcome.
"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!"
Her favourite leg of the journey? Ibbott said it was "definitely Minehead to Lynmouth in Devon because the scenery was just breathtaking."
An incredible effort.
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