A GRANDMA has taken a 2,200-mile trip around the edge of the entire country by bus… using only her free pensioner pass.

Penny Ibbott, 75, set off on her six-week bus journey from Chidham, near Chichester, and spent about eight hours a day trekking on buses each day to reach the bed and breakfasts she was staying at.

The gran-of-four started with the number 700 bus towards the east coast, darting inland and outland, stopping in countless coastal towns on the way.

Penny went all the way to Berwick-upon-Tweed, at the top of England, travelling along the Scottish border before travelling down the west coast all the way to Land’s End in Cornwall and eventually back home.

The penultimate leg was from Portsmouth to Chidham via Havant where her family and friends were waiting for her in a vintage open-top bus to finish the final 12 miles home.

The mum-of-three started her original adventure in March 2020, but had to head home after ten days when the UK entered its first lockdown.

But Penny would not be stopped and set off again on September 6, before returning home by October 16, having been on about 120 buses.

The Argus: Penny in Berwick-upon-TweedPenny in Berwick-upon-Tweed

Her second attempt raised £2,500 for St Wilfrid's Hospice, Chichester, who looked after her husband Geoff, 81, who had cancer before he died in 2016.

Penny, from Westbourne, near Chichester, 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.

The Argus: Penny at Land's End and on one of her many bus tripsPenny at Land's End and on one of her many bus trips

"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.

"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 pensioner's 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."

Although she travelled solo, her son Robin, 45, played the role of mission control, helping her plan her journey stop by stop and piecing together her coastal route.

The Argus: Penny got an open-top bus for the last leg of her tripPenny got an open-top bus for the last leg of her trip

Prior to her trip she'd also contacted Collin Ashcroft, an operations manager at Stage Coach, who was always on hand to offer his expert travel advice.

Collin kept track of Penny on her travels and invited her friends and family to surprise her on the final leg of her trip.

He then organised the vintage open-top bus to drive Penny and her loved ones back to the exact stop she'd set off from six weeks earlier.

Penny added: "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."

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