Discover Dundee with Discover Dundee

Tuesday 21st June 2022

McGills owned Xplore Dundee began a new open top bus tour of the city at the end of April. I had a ride while visiting Dundee one Sunday last month and am pleased I did. It’s a great ride with friendly drivers, a great commentary containing fascinating information about the city and some great views with unexpected delights.

Two buses new to First Bus in London provide a half hourly daily service between 09:00 and 17:00.

The buses have been reseated with some fairly comfortable seats albeit with the usual weather proofing…

…. even on the lower deck, and painted in a bright Best Impressions designed livery that certainly stands out among the green colours of Dundee’s city bus fleet.

The tour takes around 50 minutes and proceeds at a leisurely pace including short pauses at some of the main stops along the route.

Highlight of the route is the amazing view you get from the area known as Dundee Law.

This landmark is at the highest point of the city – 150 metres/500 feet above sea level – with a history stretching back to volcanic activity 400 million years ago with the name Dundee Law being taken from a Scots name for a prominent hill.

Another novel feature comes at the end of the tour, being a drive over the Tay Road bridge and back again subject to the weather not being inclement.

You get great views of both banks of the Firth of Tay as well as the Tay Rail Bridge always associated with its predecessor’s awful 1879 disaster when it collapsed plunging a train and 75 passengers into the icy water and their tragic deaths.

On a happier note among the other famous Dundee landmarks highlighted in the tour is the office of D C Thomson famous for publishing The Beano comic among other notable publications,

The pre-recorded commentary available through headphones handed out as you board and plugged into sockets by each seat is very engaging and easy to follow ….

…. as is the leaflet which gives details of times, the route and main places of interest.

Ticket prices at £10 for adults (£5 children; £24 families – 2 adults and 3 children; £8 concessions/students/monthly pass holders) are reasonably priced considering they include a hop-on and hop-off facility as well as travel on Xplore Dundee’s bus network for the day too.

The main picking up point and where the layover is taken in between tours is conveniently located at Discovery Point on Riverside Drive close to the station and the V&A where there’s a lay-by and the usual A-boards promoting the tour.

A plentiful supply of leaflets and other promotional literature is available on board the buses too.

It’s good to see a bus company proudly showing off the local heritage and points of interest in the city where it operates which I always think is a nice touch rather than one of the global brands muscling in on the market but I do wonder whether there are enough tourists and ‘footfall’ to make this initiative a commercial success during its operating through the summer until 11th September.

I hope so; it deserves to succeed.

Roger French

Blogging timetable: 06:00 TThSSu

15 thoughts on “Discover Dundee with Discover Dundee

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  1. Looking forward to travelling on it next time I come up from York to stay with my daughter in Dundee. Q1 – Will the service be runing on 27th & 28th September 2022 when Dundee Bus Festival is on?
    Q2 – Can I purchase my Discover Dundee bus ticket on the sevice bus No.10 from Broughty Ferry to include my complete freedom of Dundee bus services for the day.

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  2. Dundee has certainly become, at least pre-Covid, quite a Tourist trap in recent years, and the fare including all local bus travel sounds quite a bargain. Not withstanding any further pandemics, it should be a success.

    Sensibly, the vehicles, as of most modern day open-top conversions with a nod to our ever-changing weather, have a section for those less brave, and always amused to see “More” (Wilts and Dorset to older folk), employ theirs in the dead of Winter.

    It is a fine City, but alas, Covid saw off the last main bus service in the UK to carry Conductors (Stagecoach 73), and as I don’t see any Craven bodied RTs around these days either, visit less.

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    1. I went up to the lakes during Easter and took the open top 508 while I was there – it starting snowing while I was on it!

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  3. Gosh, looking at a Dundee RT takes me straight to Lisbon in the late 70s, where very similar-looking AEC Regal IIIs were still in service, in all-green livery and with the same narrow destinatiion window. However the Lisbon ones were mirror-images, and had no roof boxes.

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    1. It will be a tough job to generate enough traffic but it is keeping costs down. One problem is that school summer holiday in Scotland is different to that in England for this year it is June 25th to August 12th

      Dundee as well i quite small and does not make much impact o the Tourist map. It does not use a tour guide so that will keep costs down

      Newport in South Wales had a go at an Open top tour bus but they had a tourist guide. It lasted a few years

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  4. I was in Dundee last week having travelled down from Aberdeen on Citylink. The queues of people joining the Six-cities coaches at Aberdeen were very impressive, especially since there are two departures an hour on average now.

    Sadly the Discover Dundee tour doesn’t seem to be promoted to incoming coach travellers; I didn’t see any publicity until I got to the V&A. The route also misses the coach/bus station despite going very close to it.

    A short detour and maybe a quid off the ticket if you show your Citylink coach ticket would seem a worthwhile initiative.

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  5. Law is also used in northern England for a hill for example Tow Law a town in Co Durham which use to be served by the United 1/1a from Darlington via Bishop Auckland in the 1980’s although now I don’t know how you would get there.Although I did see a Weardale bus at Consett last year with Crook on the front guessing via Tow Law?

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    1. Tow Law is still served (by Arriva) from Darlington and Bishop Auckland via the X1 (daytime) and 1 (Sunday). I think you may be confused with your Consett bus – it will have been the 764 to WOLSINGHAM and yes, it does run via Tow Law.

      Whilst “Law” means “hill” in Scottish, the English version gives the same result but with a different derivation. Tow Law comes from Hlaw in Olde English meaning “mound” and so places like Arbor Low in Derbyshire are a closer link than the Scots version. And that’s enough from dictionary corner!!

      I do applaud McGills with the innovation. I do worry that Dundee might not have the critical mass of tourists to succeed but hope it pays off.

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      1. No just checked on Bustimes.org it’s the Weardale 765 which leaves Consett once a day at 1720 ETA Crook 1748 and northbound it leaves Crook at 0732 ETA Consett 0800.The 764 to Wolsingham is a bit more frequent at 3 times a day!Both the 764/5 run via Tow Law.

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      2. Ah yes… the 765 placement journeys from Consett to Crook depot. I’d forgotten about them. The bus runs in from Crook depot, does an 805 schools contract, then does a mix of 763 (local), 764 to Wolsingham, and 773 to Townfield – it’s quite the busy little shift for a driver.

        BusTimes would also have answered your question about the 1 from Darlington to Tow Law mind!

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      3. No as Tow Law to Darlington wasn’t such an obscure one so I guessed it’d still run but I didn’t think that the old United number would still be in use!It looks like a single journey runs from Durham to Stanhope on the X46 via Crook and Tow Law leaving Durham at 1715.The old numbers where the 46 and X47 and the X47 came from Newcastle Worsick Street and was a joint service between United and Northern but none went up to Stanhope only Weardale went there on it’s 101 from Bishop Aukland.Although some summer only United’s from Durham and Middlesbrough to Keswick went over that way.I didn’t know that Weardale had a depot in Crook.I recall seeing two up there a more modern one in Stanhope and an older one in Fosterley and they might have closed by now?

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      4. Quite a number of the traditional service numbers still exist in Co Durham – mainly as they were 1/2 digit ones, they’ve been less likely to change in the recent fad of renumbering, so the 43 or 49 still serve the Deerness Valley as they always have.

        Traditionally the 42, Newcastle to Crook became the 721 for most of the 1970s and 80s before becoming the X46/X47. Becoming the X46, then the 46, then being diverted via Brandon as a 49, and then being restored to the original routeing, the X46 was originally extended to Stanhope about 3/4 times/day by Arriva to take advantage of the ENCTS introduction c.2008. Those went a few years back when remuneration was cut; the current ones are simply to provide a link to New College (6th form) in Durham, hence why they run to/from Framwellgate Moor.

        Weardale’s main depot is still in Stanhope. The depot in Frosterley was only there for storage of the preserved stuff and schools and has now gone. The depot at Crook was opened so they could take advantage of Arriva’s retreat and indeed, they run a number of tendered services around Crook and Bishop. They also, curiously, have a depot in Consett that mainly does schools/works stuff in Gateshead.

        Hope this helps though we are seriously off topic – sorry Roger 🙂

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