Outing: Great Yarmouth & Lowestoft

It has been several months since I last visited Norfolk's east coast in search of buses, but having finished school this week and finding myself with little to do, I set out from mine at 0730 (even earlier than I would on a school day!), purchased a day ticket for the whole of First's Eastern Counties network and set off on what would be my first bus spotting trip for many months - that is, not including rallies. Having arrived in Norwich city centre just before half eight, I made my way to the Bus Station to catch the X1 to Great Yarmouth.

I was, I admit, slightly disappointed when one of the regular workhorses, a four-year-old Enviro400, rolled around onto the stand - I had hoped for one of the former Green Line Gemini's, which have much comfier seats, along with plug sockets and tables, despite being five years older. Nonetheless, the Enviro made light work of the journey and we arrived in Great Yarmouth on time. I chose not to photograph the bus as I stepped off - I'd forgotten how gloomy  Market Gates Bus Station is; but I did later snap an X11 (which takes the same route as the X1 between Norwich and Yarmouth, before heading to Belton instead of Lowestoft) in the form of 33423 SN60CAA, as it headed back towards Norwich, departing from the only stand in the bus station which is (sometimes) bathed in decent light.

From the bus station I set off along Regent Road towards the beach, in the hope of be able to ride topless along the seafront. I am pleased to say I was given this opportunity, as Yarmouth's open-topper 32905 W905VLN roared into the bus stop outside Pub on the Prom. I treated myself to a full lap-and-a-half of the "Great Yarmouth Seasider" route, and hopped off outside Britannia Pier to snap a photo for the album before returning to the town centre.

I should mention I really had no plan for the day other than riding on the open-top seafront service, so when I returned to Market Gates I was ready to improvise. At the bus station, I spied one of the former-Blue Star Citaro's on loan to Anglianbus (see here for more info), and having not yet ridden on or photographed one, I thought it might be worth a short trip - and so on the 1245 departure on service 61 towards Kessingland, I took my seat above a rear wheelarch and sat back to enjoy the ride. As we wriggled around the back streets of Great Yarmouth towards Gapton Hall Retail park, I recall being rather bored by the journey. The seats were quite comfortable, but there were a number of loud rattles and the bus gave a poor ride. I could compare it to FirstNorwich's B7L Eclipses, but it had comfier seats. I have to admit that I was surprised and slightly disappointed at the difference between the one I rode on, and the bendy-bus variations (one year newer) which Konectbus operate; to this day I am convinced that no modern bus gives a better ride than those artics.

I did make other trips during the day, including a short ride up to First's Caister Road depot, which presented nothing of interest, and a mini excursion to somewhere near the James Paget Hospital. In the end I made my way down to Lowestoft where I took a really bad picture of the Citaro I'd sampled earlier in the day, and caught an X2 back to Norwich. 

The 'fine city' didn't present much in the way of exciting bus activity; I noted Konectbus 901 on Anglian's service 87 to Poringland, which First compete with using leather-seated, wifi-fitted Streetlites and B9TLs. I have yet to capture a decent photo of any of the four newest 'Charcoal Line' branded buses but will post one here when I do. Oh, and above is a photo of a Konectbus Tempo, included for no other reason than that the light was in the right place for it to be a half-decent shot. Notably 404 MX05ELH is the only of Konect's first batch of Tempos remaining in the fleet, after the others were returned to a dealer after their lease expired. 404 was purchased from the lease company by KB after it had a replacement engine fitted shortly before the lease expired, which I believe to be from Optare Excel 216 W216PRB - although I can't remember who told me that one, so I might be wrong.

And finally, the somewhat pleasing sight of a yellow Anglianbus gliding along St Stephens Street - which was much more photogenic than the blue Mercs that have been around lately. 305 YJ60KGU is seen heading out to Harleston on the 83.

Thanks to everyone reading this for coming back to visit Norwich Buses Blog after a rather long, un-announced break. Schoolwork and teenager life got in the way for a bit, and so did other enthusiasts - but I'm hoping now is the right time to get the wheels turning again, albeit it a little slower than before, and as I start a new chapter in my life by enrolling at a Sixth Form in September, I hope the blog will also turn a new leaf, and steadily redevelop the enviable reputation for providing all the news, updates and photos that you - the reader - could ask for, once again.

Cheers everyone,
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About Sam Larke

Norwich Buses Blog was founded in December 2013 by Sam Larke after he left another popular blog, Norwich Bus Page. Since it's launch, the site has grown dramatically, especially whilst written solely by Kieran Smith during 2015. The blog is now in it's third year and we look forward to more success and growth in the future. If you think you'd make a good writer for Norwich Buses Blog, please do get in touch via email: samuel.larke@gmail.com
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