Surrey to the Seaside for £4 with the “Best Operator of the Year”
Whisper it quietly…
We’re going to let you into a secret – there’s a fabulous, alternative way to travel from leafy Surrey to the Sussex seaside and it’s not by train! Two buses and two quid on each, it’s a trip that is a real treat and goes deep into the heart of Surrey and Sussex countryside and out the other side for the coastal capers and charm of Worthing. With Guildford so accessible to suburban Surrey and South West London, the opportunities for an affordable trip to the beach with a difference are boundless!
The best new way with the best
This is a journey that is made possible by Stagecoach South, firstly on either its 70/71 or 72 from the heart of Guildford to Midhurst and then the easiest of changes onto the number 1 bus to Worthing. What’s more the customer service is great and little wonder that Stagecoach South won the National Transport Award for “Best Operator of the Year”, on 5th October at a prestigious event in London, as pictured below by the paparazzi. This is a company that prides itself on its attentiveness towards customers, under the leadership of Marc Reddy, one of the most renowned transport leaders of his generation and the ‘Pep Guardiola’ of the bus industry, having also won “Manager of the Year Award” at last year’s Route One Awards!
Getting it on in Guildford
Guildford is a fun-filled place to start the seaside-bound adventure, with its trendy, boutique, branded and independent shops, eateries aplenty, as well as great architecture and of course a delightful Castle. There’s sporting prowess here too with Guildford City playing in the Combined Counties Premier Division (South), a puck’s throw away next door to the successful ice-hockey team, Guildford Flames! Closer to the bus station is Woodbridge Road, the second home of Surrey County Cricket Club, who decamp from the Oval for a few One Day Cup matches here each season.
The adventure on the bus from Guildford is stress free as the driver takes the strain, leaving the bustle of the Bus Station behind and meandering at a rythmic but enjoyable pace round twisting and turning roads, with meadowland, the River Wey and lovely villages, complete with perfectly manicured gardens, entrancing customers throughout. Timbered and tile hung cottages provide a compelling backdrop so too the fantastic delights, history and heritage of Godalming and Haslemere.
Marvellous mid-journey magic at Midhurst
The journey continues through beautiful countryside and it’s an easy change when alighting at Midhurst onto the number 1, but first we’d suggest a wander round this fabulous town which is the gateway to the South Downs National Park and home to its visitor centre as well as the start of some amazing parkland walks. There’s also the Midhurst Museum which proudly describes itself as the “smallest museum in the world”. Whilst changing buses, maybe cross the road and try a pastry or pie in The Midhurst Bakery, where the team are hugely welcoming!
The beautiful journey continues on the 1, as the bus passes open chalkland, wild flowers and rare birds as it traverses the South Downs. Rolling hills, adorned with patchwork fields and lush meadows, offer a gentle undulating landscape. Vibrant hedgerows, scattered with wildflowers, lead to breathtaking vistas, showcasing a tapestry of green hues against the sky. Ancient woodlands and secret paths beckon explorers to wander and discover hidden treasures.
Percy’s Palatial Petworth
Onto Petworth, which is renowned for its rich history, picturesque landscapes, and the stately Petworth House. The town is steeped in history, boasting a medieval street layout and a collection of historic buildings, including the striking 12th-century Petworth Church. Visitors can explore the beautiful Petworth House, an impressive 17th-century mansion housing a remarkable art collection, including works by J.M.W. Turner and other renowned artists. The House spans 900 years and just one family!
Nature enthusiasts can revel in the South Downs National Park surrounding Petworth, offering breathtaking hikes, cycling trails, and serene picnic spots. The Petworth Park deer herd is an iconic sight within the vast landscaped grounds of Petworth House, adding a touch of wildlife to the experience. St Mary’s Church in the heart of Petworth is lovely too and this flint structure dates back to the 13th century, though altered in 1840 and 1881.
An obscure fact is that Petworth was mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086, showcasing its ancient origins. Additionally, the town has connections to the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, who lived here during his time at nearby Syon House.
Be sure to also check out Petworth Museum. Housed in a charming 17th-century building, it offers a glimpse into the town’s heritage, including its connections to the literary and artistic world. One quirky fact is that the museum boasts a display of George Stubbs’ paintbox, providing insight into the tools of a renowned 18th-century animal painter whose works are revered worldwide.
It’s onwards through the picturesque village of Fittleworth, which is the home of the famous Fittleworth Flyers Running Club – its runners are a familiar sight across the beautiful Sussex landscape. The Flyers might be well known but Fittleworth also harbours a little secret—a hidden network of underground tunnels. Local lore suggests that these tunnels, now sealed off, were used during the English Civil War as a clandestine escape route for the inhabitants. Additionally, rumour has it that they were utilized by smugglers in the 18th century for illicit activities. Though the tunnels remain inaccessible, their enigmatic presence adds an air of intrigue to Fittleworth’s history. The bus then continues to the equally lovely village of Findon.
Well worth it in Worthing
Back on the bus for more glorious West Sussex countryside before the bright lights of Worthing beckon – a gem of a resort which exudes an enchanting blend of Victorian elegance and coastal allure. This seaside town boasts a captivating essence, inviting visitors to embrace its unique charm. With a vast pebble beach stretching for miles, Worthing offers a serene coastal experience perfect for leisurely strolls or sun-soaked relaxation, as well as after daylight, a pretty good nightlife!
The Worthing Pier stands as an emblematic structure, offering panoramic views of the sea and hosting events, shows, and even an amusement arcade for a touch of nostalgia. The town centre is resplendent with quaint boutiques, cafes, and art galleries that reflect its vibrant arts scene.
Rail rebels rule okay!
Worthing’s cultural attractions include the Worthing Museum and Art Gallery, displaying local history and notable artworks, while Highdown Gardens, a westerly walk away and close to the Stagecoach South 700 service, showcases stunning gardens and breathtaking views of the Sussex Downs. For those seeking active pursuits, Worthing provides opportunities for water sports, beachfront yoga, and picturesque cycling along the promenade. The town is also home to a successful non-league club, Worthing F.C, nicknamed ‘The Rebels’. The first team is enjoying real success, having been promoted to the National League South last season, where it has got off to a decent start this campaign.
This is a trip that’s been made by rebel customers, those who have shunned the car or the traditional train journey from Surrey to Sussex and Worthing’s worthy of their £4 fare, not least because of its fair share of quirky titbits. The town hosted the International Birdman competition, where individuals attempted to ‘fly’ off the pier in eccentric contraptions. Worthing was also home to the UK’s first public library, established in 1893. Adding to its unusual charm, the town has a penchant for record-breaking, including creating the world’s largest cream tea and assembling the longest line of beach huts. Worthing’s unique spirit shines through its peculiar events and endeavours, adding a playful touch to its coastal allure.
To find out more about these two fabulous routes and start planning your journey from Surrey to the Sussex seaside, check out the links below….