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A grandmother has taken a 2,200 mile trip around the edge of the whole of England using her free bus pass - and managed to raise an impressive £2,500 for charity while doing it.
Penny Ibbott, 75, embarked on the six-week bus journey around England, starting off from the centre of the south coast before traveling in an anti-clockwise direction.
Penny spent at least eight hours a day travelling on different buses to get her from one bed and breakfast to the next.
After making the penultimate journey from Portsmouth to Chidham via Havant, she was met by friends and family who had a vintage open-top bus waiting to take her the last 12 miles.
Penny had originally set off on her adventure in March 2020, but had to cut it short after 10 days due to the coronavirus pandemic.
However, before setting off on her second attempt, Penny decided she would use it to raise some cash from St Wilfrid's Hospice in West Sussex, who looked after her husband Geoff, 81, who died in 2016.
Penny, from Westbourne, 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 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.
"I'm pretty robust but I needed a comfortable bed to sleep in along the way, and as you can imagine choosing the bed and breakfasts was a bit of a lottery.
"I managed to use my pensioners pass for every English bus free of charge - but on the Scottish side of the border it wasn't valid, so I had to pay a handful of times.
"Often it was like an administrative exercise because when I was on the bus I was always busy doing something.
"I'd be booking my next hotel, answering emails, contacting local press, finding out the route for the day or documenting my journey - all of which took up a lot of my day.
“My favourite leg of the journey was definitely from Minehead to Lynmouth in Devon because the scenery was just breath-taking."
Penny set off on 6 September and finished on 16 October - getting approximately 120 buses in total.
Although she did the journey alone her son Robin had helped plan her journey stop-by-stop.
And before she left she got in touch with Collin Ashcroft, an operations manager at Stagecoach, who was always on hand to offer his expert travel advice.
He also organised the vintage bus that Penny and her loved ones use to complete her journey.
Penny, 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.
"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!"
Featured Image Credit: SWNS
Topics: UK News
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