Thursday 7th July 2022
I’d originally planned a ride all the way from Hastings to Dover on Stagecoach’s long coastal bus route branded “Wave” between East Sussex and Kent skimming along the edge of Romney Marsh. And then I remembered buses haven’t run right through for some time with the route split at Rye. Still, at least that gives time for a comfort stop.
A four minute connection between buses from Hastings on route 100 arriving in Rye and route 102 departing for Dover looked tight but doable (admittedly I could have gone for the more leisurely 28 minute option off the 101 arrival) so I turned up at Hastings’ Conquest Hospital on a recent Wednesday morning with fingers crossed, and if it didn’t work I’d be able to enjoy an hour’s break over lunch in Rye while waiting for the next departure on route 102.
Although the route (like another Stagecoach operates in north Devon) has long been branded “Wave” with bus stops throughout the route displaying “Wave” logos – including on sister route 99 which runs westwards along the coast from Hastings to Eastbourne – none of the buses I saw on routes 100 and 101 between Hastings and Rye on my journey carried the branding, so it looks like it might be on the way out as part of Stagecoach’s centralised corporate hold over such matters.
Just to confuse things further Wave branding appears on the online network map for routes 100 and 101 as well as route 102 (with the routes shown in a nice aquamarine blue colour – see below) between Hastings, Rye and Dover but doesn’t appear on route 99 between Hastings and Eastbourne which is shown in a pink colour, but most buses on the 99 are still “Wave-ised”.
Buses between Hastings and Rye take partly different routes but both start at Conquest Hospital to the north of the town before short route variations to Silverhill and then run together to the bus station conveniently sited right alongside the railway station before continuing via Old London Road to Ore where they diverge. Route 100 runs hourly inland via Guesling and Ickelsham while route 101 also runs hourly but via the coastal road through Fairlight, Pett Level and Winchelsea Beach.
Both routes meet just east of Wincheslea from where they run half hourly to Rye.
I caught the 10:53 route 100 from Conquest Hospital on the northern edge of the town.
The bus arrived just a minute or two down on its scheduled arrival from its previous journey but after a fairly swift turnaround we were soon on our way just one minute late at 10:54 with one other passenger on board.
We picked up a dozen passengers heading down to Hastings town centre where the majority alighted. Arriving into the bus station (offering convenient interchange with trains) was a queue of 17 passengers waiting to board which took a while to complete meaning we left 7 minutes late and my connection in Rye was looking decidedly dodgy.
We picked more passengers up in Hastings town centre before heading along the seafront continuing to be busy with ons and offs through Old Town and towards Ore.
It was a lovely sunny hot June day making for a very pleasant ride. Even a bus shelter was getting in the open top spirit as we passed through Ore.
The route then becomes rural in nature with some lovely views of the East Sussex countryside ….
…. though Guesling and Icklesham before reaching Winchelsea ….
…. and its spectacular hairpin bend.
From WInchelsea it’s a short stretch onwards to Rye but frustratingly we were six minutes behind schedule as we approached the town making that connection looking unlikely.
Our scheduled arrival was 11:58 and it was now 12:04 with anticipation reaching fever pitch as we approached Rye Station and the route’s terminus around the corner in Station Approach.
As we drew up to the stand to my relief I saw the 12:02 departure on the 102 for Dover still there, so I headed quickly down the stairs to do a quick change.
Except just as we pulled up behind it…..
…. it drove off.
Never mind. I decided to change plans as having enjoyed my journey on the inland route 100 to Rye so much, thought I’d return to Hastings on the same bus I’d come out on as it was heading back as a 101 taking the southern more coastal route via Winchelsea Beach and Fairlight.
That was due to leave at 12:08 but we headed off still slightly late with four on board at 12:10.
The journey back via the 101 is a great ride. It doesn’t do Winchelsea’s hairpin bend, turning off instead to follow the seafront road along Winchelsea Beach…
…. before continuing via Pett Level towards Fairlight.
There’s a short double run to serve Fairlight village but the bus is soon back on the road towards Hastings and passing through Mallydams Wood.
When you think of a bus route branded ‘Wave’ you think sea views, but this route is full of surprises and offers a great variety of scenery including some very narrow rural roads to navigate.
And it never ceases to amaze me just how many drivers are unable to reverse their cars in a straight line, this one going in all directions as it backed up to let us pass….
We approached Hastings through Ore and the Old Town as we’d left it on the 100 and were soon passing along the seafront to the town centre where I left the bus as it continued on its way to Conquest Hospital to the north of the town. It hadn’t been a particularly busy journey, unlike the outward one to Rye, but I reckon around a dozen had been on board.
Having had my appetite wetted for scenic seafront journeys I decided to continue Riding the Wave eastwards and take a journey on Stagecoach’s route 99 through Bexhill, Little Common and Pevensey to Eastbourne – the one in pink with no ‘Wave’ branding on the map.
Route 99 runs every 20 minutes and the journey I took carried a lot of local passengers making journeys between Hastings and Little Common as well as inter-urban movements between that area and Eastbourne despite a frequent train service operated by Southern.
The journey I made was on a bus picking up significant number of passengers in the town centre which was impressive to see.
And then I realised the bus behind was running 20 minutes late and came from the bus station and passed us as we loaded.
We then played cat and mouse the whole way along the route to Eastbourne with our bus maintaining its scheduled timings and the late runner still 20 minutes behind schedule. It’s a shame some intervention from ‘control’ wasn’t forthcoming.
New buses were introduced on to route 99 in 2017 and came branded as ‘Wave’ although some are now taking on the new Stagecoach generic branding.
It’s a lovely route taking in the seafront road leaving Hastings towards Bexhill ….
…. and arriving there is marked by the eye catching Marine Court – designed by Kenneth Dalgleish and Roger K Pullen with overt references to the Cunard White-Star Line Queen Mary which entered transatlantic service in 1936….
…. from Bexhill town centre there’s another short stretch along the seafront to enjoy ….
…. before coming across a rather delightful bus shelter at Little Common …..
…. and finally after crossing over Pevensey’s level crossing ….
…. the route offers a great scenic entry into Eastbourne.
It had been quite a busy journey to begin with but as we were sharing the load with the late running bus, it became less hectic. I’d estimate around 30 had been on board.
I headed home from Eastbourne on the train although was tempted to take a ride on Brighton & Hove’s wonderfully scenic coastal route 13X via Beachy Head and Birling Gap as well as then joining the popular Coaster branded route 12 via Seaford to Brighton. I gave it a miss this time even though a bus was just leaving.
And finally I managed to achieve my goal of completing the Ride the Wave project all the way to Dover on Monday by taking the train back to Rye and picking up the 11:02 departure on route 102.
As the map shows this “Wave’ branded route operates via Camber, Lydd, New Romney, Hythe, and Folkestone.
It runs hourly from Rye with two more journeys per hour from Littlestone near New Romney making for a 20 minute frequency east from there. End to end journey time is just a minute short of a two and half hour run.
It’s another route very popular in the summer with tourists and visitors as well as providing good travel links for local residents all along the way.
This time the bus on route 100 due in at 10:58 arrived on time maintaining the four minute connection for the couple of passengers who made the transfer.
We left on time with 15 on board, around half got off in Camber from where it was a quiet journey across to Lydd and New Romney justifying the hourly frequency, but north of New Romney along to Hythe was noticeably busier as was the journey through to Folkestone (also served by route 16).
We changed drivers in Folkestone where most passengers alighted – just two on the upper deck travelled through – and after a five minute break we were on our way on the final leg taking just over half an hour to Dover with a reasonable number of passengers on board. We arrived in Dover’s Pencester Road terminus a couple of minutes ahead of the 13:31 scheduled arrival.
It’s a lovely route full of contrasting scenery from the open fields between Rye and Camber…
…. along the coast by Camber Sands….
…. past the lovely village of Lydd with its 14th century All Saints church (with Saxon remains dating from the 8th century or earlier)….
… continuing to the extreme south east corner of Kent by The Pilot, close to Dungeness Power Station….
…. then back northwards along the seafront towards New Romney ….
…. and on towards Hythe and then along the lovely seafront through Sandgate to Folkestone ….
…. from where there’s a long climb up to get above the cliffs for the final run into Dover….
….. and the terminus at Pencester Road, now sadly devoid of its Travel Office but very busy with Stagecoach buses, drivers and plenty of passengers which was good to see.
Once again it was the minority of buses out on the 102 on Monday with Wave branding, so it looks as though Stagecoach are waving goodbye to that brand for the future.
So that’s Eastbourne to Dover completed, albeit in an odd order. At one time when Stagecoach also operated route 12 (jointly with Brighton & Hove) between Eastbourne and Brighton it linked some of those journeys to its through Eastbourne to Dover service making for a very long Brighton to Dover through journey taking six and a half hours. And then some journeys were further extended to Worthing using a slightly different route to the coastal A259 out of Brighton but making for one of the longest bus journeys in England – if not the longest. That was quite a ride.
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