beautiful early morning start at the Metal bridge Inn

meeting interesting characters and the rarest of buses on our road trip

Well after a good nights sleep, it was an early-ish start as we had to push on and get back home in the next couple of days. Fortunately our route home would take us near the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales National Parks, so not the worst scenery ahead for the first part of the drive! 🙂

beautiful early morning start at the Metal bridge Inn
beautiful early morning start at the Metal bridge Inn

So time to take off the campers BusEyes and get the night mode of the bus transformed into day travelling mode once again as we get set for today’s journey south. Always a good idea to check the oil in the morning before setting off. The engine had thus far done us proud and barely used any oil and ran like a proverbial sewing machine! 🙂 Big credit must go to the guys at Resto Classics for the way they help keep things ticking over on the bus so sweetly! Since their top end refresh and set-up, the engine has been running really smoothly and not missed a beat!

just checking the oil before setting off, all good to go!
just checking the oil before setting off, all good to go!

On the way down we decided to pull in at a services for a toilet break. Parked to the side of us was a cool and rather unusual looking bus with ‘Happy 40th Birthday’ banners on it. Always the curious types, we popped our heads in to congratulate the owners on their birthday celebrations, but we had a little surprise when we introduced ourselves…

unique 1976 Bedford JJL bus, the only one left in the world!
unique 1976 Bedford JJL bus, the only one left in the world!

The bus was a really rare Bedford JJL and it was the bus that was celebrating its 40th birthday, not the owners! Apparently they were just coming back from a show with it as it was the only remaining example from only four that were ever produced, and this being the first one that was ever made! The other 3 have long since gone to the great garage in the sky!

lovely couple showed us around their rare old bus
lovely couple showed us around their rare old bus

The owners were a lovely couple who took real pleasure in telling us all about the bus and its history. One of the fun things about our little road trip adventure is some of the unexpected people we have met on our travels – this was no exception 🙂

This prototype coach was built by Bedford Motor Company and fitted with Marshall B24F bodywork. Originally built (without running gear) for the 1976 London Motor Show and also later shown in the 1979 Glasgow Motor Show. The running gear was later added in November 1979. They were a lovely couple who clearly cherished the bus and enjoyed taking it to classic or vintage car shows. Great attention to detail, they even colour coordinated their attire to match the bus!

unique 1976 Bedford JJL bus, the only one left in the world!
unique 1976 Bedford JJL bus, the only one left in the world!

The Bedford JJL was an innovative (but ultimately unsuccessful) midibus model built by Bedford. The JJL could have been a success, but was ahead of its time in predicting the boom in the midibus market, as seen by the success of the Dennis Dart. HKX 553V was sold to Bournemouth Transport (trading as Yellow Buses) in 1983, and then onto The Goodman Group, where it saw service with Rambler and Goodman’s coaches. The ‘top trump’ facts for the bus are apparently…

  • 24’7″ long
  • 7″6′ wide
  • Carried 24 seated passengers, 5 standing
  • Transversely rear mounted Bedford 330 straight six diesel engine
  • Automatic gearbox Morse Hi Vo chain transfer box and spiral bevel angle box to inverted hypoid rear axle
  • Top speed, a heady 55mph (sounds familiar 😉 )
  • Cruising speed of 45/50mph

These little unexpected meetings can really make your day. Loved their enthusiasm and interest in keeping this bit of automotive heritage on the road, full credit and respect to them both!

the Peak District has a bleak wilderness type of beauty to it
the Peak District has a bleak wilderness type of beauty to it

Strangely as we headed further south, the weather began to change and became a bit overcast and rainy. Clearly we timed our trip to Scotland perfectly as we had great weather north of the border. Not sure about this dodgy English weather! Our route home took us back over the bleak beauty of the Peak District, clearly it’s not just us that appreciated the rugged beauty of the area!

our route home took us back over the bleak beauty of the Peak District
our route home took us back over the bleak beauty of the Peak District

As we were passing, seemed rude not to stop in on our new favourite Pub, the Snake Pass Inn and have our supper there! Initially we were planning on stopping over here again tonight after we had eaten, but having made good time on the roads today, we decided to push on a bit further and stop off a bit further south in a new to us Brit Stop location.

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