Newcastle to Edinburgh by bus: Part 3

Sunday 19th Match 2023

And so to the final leg of last month’s bus journey from Newcastle to Edinburgh. Having enjoyed a leisurely ride on Arriva’s scenic route X18 to Berwick-upon-Tweed where I had a stopover to savour Borders Buses route 477 to Holy Island it’s now time to cross the border appropriately enough with Borders Buses route 253 which runs five times a day via Eyemouth, Dunbar and Haddington.

It’s a two and a half hour journey offering some great scenery and interesting places to pass through along the way.

It’s unfortunate the departure information at the bus stop where the journey begins outside Berwick-upon-Tweed railway station was showing incorrect times some of which are ten minutes later than the actual time, so you’d miss the bus if you took these times as accurate. It was also displaying other journeys which haven’t run since last November.

I caught the midday departure (as opposed to the 12:10 according to the display timetable) and just to confuse passengers even more, it’s one of those routes over 30 miles which therefore shows an intermediate point on the journey as the destination due to split registrations – this being Grantshouse, 46 minutes into the journey. There’s probably another destination too, but I didn’t see what was displayed midway along the route.

It’s a nicely branded bus with a smart interior including space for two cycles although none were carried on the journey I made.

There were a couple of tables in the rear section too.

We left Berwick-upon-Tweed with eight passengers, two travelling to Eyemouth, three to Ayton, one to Cocksburnspath and two went all the way to Edinburgh. One passenger boarded in Grantshouse travelling to Dunbar and five boarded in Cockburnspath with four going to Dunbar and one to Fort Kinnaird.

Three more passengers boarded in Innerwick going to Dunbar with three boarding in Dunbar, one making a local journey and two to Haddington. Another travelled from East Linton to Haddington and finally two boarded in Haddington to Fort Kinnard.

If you’ve followed all that you’ll know there were 23 passengers all told with a maximum of eight on board at any one time. Dunbar was the most popular stop with eight alighting and three boarding and after Fort Kinnard (24 minutes away from Edinburgh) there were just the two left on who’d boarded in Berwick-upon-Tweed travelling all the way to Edinburgh along with myself.

Fort Kinnaird is a large retail park alongside the A1 with the odd parking space or thousand …

…. and we also past Reston station (calling in to the rather empty car park) …

.,… as well as passing the location of the new station being built at East Linton.

The 253 parallels the East Coast Main Line for some quite long sections.

It also passes that rather strange looking power station which is also a feature alongside the railway.

We finally arrived into Edinburgh’s coach station on time at 14:33.

It was a very pleasant two and a half hour journey to complete my Newcastle to Edinburgh jaunt.

I returned back to Newcastle non-stop courtesy of Lumo and a cheap £7.85 single fare (with Railcard).

Unusually the train pulled into Newcastle’s north facing bay platform 1 as engineering works had closed the line south through Durham (this was in early February) with replacement coaches laid on for Lumo passengers while LNER was operating via the Durham Coast line.

It had been a wonderful bus journey experience north through Northumberland’s finest castles and coastal scenery, Holy Island and the Borders east coast landscape. A well recommended trip as is a return with Lumo.

Roger French

Blogging timetable: 06:00 TThS

27 thoughts on “Newcastle to Edinburgh by bus: Part 3

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      1. Borders Buses are always well turned out.
        Travelled from Galashiels to Hawick on Friday. The 13.30 departure was full with one bicycle.
        Noticed the tables myself which I thought was excellent although not able sit at one with my wife due to a mother allowing her two mall children to sit at one and herself at the other!


  1. Very interesting account of your journey from Newcastle to Edinburgh. Over how many days did this take? Do you have to pay on the 253 from Berwick to Edinburgh if you have an English concessionary travel card? Assume if you were going Edinburgh to Berwick you would have to pay. Were there many fare paying passengers? Thanks again for your blog


    1. Couple of years ago I caught border buses from Berwick across to Galashiels paid a single fare only to be told by some local people on board during the journey that the English pass is valid all the way because I boarded in England hope this helps


      1. English passes are valid on cross border service both ways to/from Berwick on 60 Galashiels, 67 Kelso and on coastal routes as far as Eyemouth. Pass holders have to either start or finish their journey in England.


        1. Scottish passes are valid from a Scottish origin to Berwick upon Tweed and vice versa. Similarly on the other side of the country to/from Carlisle. I’m not sure about validity on the cross border route 131 (Peter Hogg) from Kelso to Newcastle. I’ve never used this once daily route leaving at 0850, arriving Newcastle at 1100 via the spectacular A68 Carter Bar and Newcastle Airport. Returns at 1345 Mon-Fri and an hour later on Sat.


          1. I’ve used the Peter Hogg but only going north out of Newcastle and only within England as far as Bryness and I have seen people show the driver passes although about half get off in Otterburn the rest were still on at Bryness so I’m guessing that they went to Scotland as there’s hardly anything between Bryness and the border.I also used the early evening Phoenix Coaches bus,1720 ex Newcastle, earlier this month to Otterburn and can report it does the £2 fare despite not being listed on the government website.Strangely 1 passenger used it for an internal trip within Newcastle and he got off around the Town Moor and another got off in Ponteland .I say strange as the a loads of more frequent big buses as far as Ponteland.I assume that the person who travelled internally in Newcastle was at the stop awaiting another bus and the Phoenix happened to call in for it’s once a day trip so he got it?The Ponteland one was talking to another woman who remained on beyond Ponteland so I’m guessing she used it so she could chat to her friend as far as Ponteland.I think that the other lady got off at Belsay.


  2. Why does a split registration mean the bus cannot display its actual destination?
    Surely that’s a silly rule that’s an unintended consequence of the legislation that the government ought to deal with?


    1. No it’s still a Bus Station according to its signage – despite being mostly used by coaches. The dominant operator being Citylink and it’s routes to Glasgow, Inverness, Aberdeen etc. “Buses” are operated by Borders Buses routes to Berwick, St. Boswells, Galashiels and Carlisle. There’s the occasional National Express/Megabus and last time I was there it seemed to be the start point for a few coach holidays to the Highlands.


      1. Not forgetting all of the “buses” operated by Stagecoach East Scotland, albeit mostly in yellow “distance” livery on services to/from Fife and beyond on seven different routes.
        Plus, until the end of the month, Stagecoach West Scotland on the 101/102 to Dumfries/Biggar. From 1st April this contracted service will be operated by Houston’s of Lockerbie.


  3. The registration for the 253 is also split at Haddington. I complained to Northumberland last summer about inaccurate timetable displays at Berwick Station. I did receive an acknowledgment but no further update. Your photograph shows that according to the Northumberland timetable display, the 253 only goes as far as Haddington.

    The diversion off the A1 to serve Fort Kinnaird is a recent innovation.


  4. Nice to see a U.K. bus with accommodation for bikes! Nearly every municipal bus service in the USA has bike racks on the front of the bus (2 or 3 bikes). To cross the Oakland Bay Bridge on a bouncy Van Hool bus, with your bike dangling out the front feels like an act of faith. Testament to the design of the simple, and easy to use racks, I never heard of any problems.


  5. A route with such a low frequency is never going to attract many passenger’s. The passengers getting on at Berwick were mainly travelling fairly locally and it my be that was the first bus that came along as a number of other routes also serve those locations


    1. A route with such a low frequency may be all that’s needed to economically serve the available residents. It’s not exactly a route serving huge cities!


  6. The bus looks very smart. Were the seats as comfortable as they looked? Good innovative bike carrying capability, ideal for onward travel. Let down by the out of date information at Berwick, and the incorrect ultimate destination on said display.


  7. That power station isn’t so strange and it is called the Torness Nuclear Power Station.It is an Advanced Gas Cooled Reactor which uses Nuclear Fission to power turbines.It has a freight loading point that you can see from the train that takes it’s waste away for decommissioning.Berwick needs a proper bus station and it was a great loss when the old United/Eastern Scottish one closed although even if it had one it’s unlikely to be manned and would have out of date timetables.


  8. I’d rather assumed split registration was one of those things we were told were imposed by the EU and would be scrapped once we left. It seems though we are perfectly capable of coming up with ill-conceived regulations all on our own!


  9. Many thanks indeed for your very interesting account. I have used the service fairly often in the past. By using the ex London coaches RE/ECW’s of United, the Alexander Y types of Eastern Scottish, and the buses of Perrymans, and First East Scotland. But so far , not with Border Buses. All the trips have been very enjoyable and interesting indeed. And if one shows the English concessionary pass at Berwick Upon Tweed, than one is entitled to pay the reduced fare ( child fare ) to Edinburgh. I am very surprised to learn that the return journey to Newcastle Central was made by Lumo. Because of all the train operators ie LNER , Lumo, Trans Pennine and XCountry, the best one l have found is most certainly LNER.


    1. Agree with your comment re LNER they are brilliant customer service is excellent ,on board teams are the best in the country their services are reliable . worst is Trans Pennine Express here in York services are cancelled without prior warning .Had one trip by LIMO from kings cross to Edinburgh that was because the North bound service went around the York station avoiding line a line that’s impossible to do normally ! On board team and Service was great.


  10. Just checked Borders website for ticket prices. Not very clear.
    Think it is £9.25 for a day ticket for a normal passenger and not just Borders College student tickets.
    Assuming the £2 single fare does not apply? No mention of it on website
    Please try to include prices in future blogs, Roger


  11. £5.25 maximum price for a single if bought through the app. There also seems to be a special £2.53 (on the 253) single between Edinburgh and Dunbar for a limited period.


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