Remembering Wigglybus and Connect2Wiltshire - Sunday 8th August 2021

Some things get postponed more than others... With the world as it is, this event had been postponed several times, some proposed dates not even seeing the light of day. So when I eventually found myself walking to the Faresaver depot at 9:30 on the morning of 8th August 2021, it was the culmination of months and months of waiting.

I found Oscar sorting destination displays for the day ahead, though with strict instruction from his boss not to use them in between photo stops. In due course we made our way down from the office into the yard to find the inside of our bus being made pristine for our journey. Alas it was raining so the condition sadly wasn't to last.

With all checks complete, and a B9 decker now having replaced our bus on the fuel pump, we made a move out of Bumpers Farm and into Chippenham. All our passengers were eagerly waiting in the rain when we arrived at the Railway station and after a short briefing we left five minutes late.

Our 15 year old Solo made excellent progress out of Chippenham with no need to stop at the Bus Station, our other advertised pickup point. After climbing past Derry Hill and passing Sandy Lane, we made it to Stockley after a brief diversion due to known roadworks. Our first photo stop required some careful manouvering due to the somewhat surprisingly large number of cars passing through Stockley on a Sunday morning.

From Stockley it was out to Blacklands and over to Bishops Cannings where the local parishioners had just finished their morning service. Onwards from Bishops Cannings we enjoyed a lovely ride in significantly improved weather across to Alton Barnes, including views of a somewhat grey, White Horse.

Passing through Alton Barnes and Honeystreet, there was a recollection of the phenomenal 'pub to pub' service that Wigglybus provided. This included taking a double run to the pub at Honeystreet which we, probably sensibly, avoided on this occasion.

After Honeystreet there was some contention as to whether our next timing point, Gores, actually existed and as such we were soon in Hilcot itself. At this point there was a change of plan and we made a detour into the Go South Coast outstation on the outskirts of Pewsey. This gave an excellent opportunity to see the contemporary buses on the former Wigglybus routes and also get a few shots of the other buses present.

Having completed a loop of the outstation to turn round, we made our way into Pewsey for our first advertised break. We parked up right outside the Co-op as only the Wigglybus services, and their successors, do (the X5 sticks to the main road). A few amusing photos later and we were off once again!

Tracing the contemporary rail replacement route we made our way over to Bedwyn Station in the picturesque village of Great Bedwyn. From here there was a desire to serve a particularly narrow section in Savernake Forest prior to reaching the A4. A previous outing to check the route had discovered this to be rather narrow and Oscar, in his infinite wisdom, decided this meant it unpleasantly challenging for our 9.5m Slimline Optare Solo, one for another day!

Not long after, we made it into Marlborough after a brief detour within the town to avoid some rather severe traffic. We made good use of the town's most important facilities, the public conveniences and the Greggs, before eventually leaving Marlborough not long after 13:00.

This next section was certainly a highlight. The original plan had been to follow this route in the opposite direction but it was changed so people could fully enjoy the route over Rockley. At Rockley itself we had a brief photo stop alongside a sign warning of ice, somewhat unlikely in August but indicative of the road ahead.

And so it was that we climbed out of Rockley through some of the best bits of the Marlborough Downs. I suspect my mention of articulated lorries using this stretch was slightly off-putting for Oscar but we were lucky and soon even luckier, parked up at the top of Hackpen Hill. While windy, the views were phenomenal and many photos were taken before we descended the pretty much hairpin bends down to the main road from Swindon to Avebury.

Joining that road, we took a detour in the pretty village of Berwick Bassett, as the modern day 42 still does. This was a chance to for three interesting photo locations with one of the bus entering the village, one at its turning point and one leaving. I think it's safe to say that the group thoroughly enjoyed this opportunity, even if they decided my running was a fourth photo opportunity...

Above photo courtesy of Stevie Clad

Having left Berwick Bassett we had the privilege of showing several of our party, the stone circle at Avebury, for the first time. We passed through at a leisurely pace before taking the rather nice road down to West Kennett. Here we joined the A4 past Silbury Hill and to our next timing point of Beckhampton Waggon & Horses.

Climbing up the A4 westwards, a few of our party were slightly perturbed when we turned off down a road clearly marked as a dead end. Little did they know that Little London was towards the end of said road. Little London is of course the timing point where buses turn round at the village of Yatesbury. We managed to get a few more photos and before long were headed back the way we came towards the A4.

The next stop was part way down Labour-in-Vain Hill where a brief photo stop punctuated our journey back through Calne towards Chippenham. Having left Chippenham along London Road in the morning, we took Pewsham Way and Avenue La Fleche to the Bridge Centre Roundabout. At this point we were running slightly ahead of schedule and with no one alighting at the bus station and the rest of the party in little rush, we took another detour for some photos.

This time we took the A4 up Rowden Hill before taking a right onto Lowden where I hopped out to grab a few photos of the bus squeezing through the 10' tall bridge under the railway. Next we took a right onto Lowden Hill where Oscar let any photographers off to run through the tunnel ahead of the bus. After letting several cars squeeze by we managed to get the desired publicity shots for our next event.

From here it was back to the station where a group photo was taken before people made their exits as needs be and the rest of us headed to The Three Crowns. All in all, a thoroughly enjoyable day was had by all

Above photo courtesy of Stevie Clad

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