During the penultimate week of Stagecoach’s tenure in King’s Lynn, I explored the Coasthopper route all the way through to Wells-next-the-Sea and Cromer.
The stalwart of the North Norfolk coast transport network, the Coasthopper services are a tourist attraction in their own right – even featuring on road signs in the region.
With Stagecoach departing Norfolk, the Coasthopper brand is being diluted – now it’s only in use on the Sanders Coaches routes 4 & 5 between Wells-next-the-Sea and Cromer, with some journeys extending to Mundesley & North Walsham.
In this section:
- King’s Lynn
- Sandringham (on the main road)
- Sandringham Estate
- Snettisham & Ingoldisthorpe
The former heart of the Stagecoach Norfolk operations, King’s Lynn is the start point for the former Coasthopper routes – the logical place to start my journey. Arriving early in the morning into the town’s bus station, after a brisk walk from the Premier Inn, I awaited my D through to Wells-next-the-Sea.
Given it was Stagecoach’s penultimate week of operation, it was a little surprising to see the Coasthopper services were all-over the place – unbranded buses abounded and lots of journeys were cancelled throughout the day.
Sandringham (on the main road)
I decided to hop off the Coasthopper on the main road on the outskirts of the Sandringham Estate to take some snaps of the passing Lynx and Stagecoach buses. Whilst waiting for my onward connection, I met an elderly couple who were heading for Wells & Cromer with their bus pass.
Bemoaning the upcoming service changes, they were a little miffed at Stagecoach’s decision to abandon the area but were optimistic for the new Lynx bus services – I too share in their optimism. Lynx are a respected operation run by consummate busmen who know buses inside out!
One of the most stunningly beautiful places I’ve had the pleasure of visiting in a long while. Little wonder as it’s home to one of the Royal Households.
Open to the public most of the year, the Sandringham Estate is served by an hourly bus service between King’s Lynn and Hunstanton. Currently served by Lynx’s route 35, it used to be part of Stagecoach’s Coasthopper network.
I highly recommend a visit to the estate if you’re in the area. You can find out more information about Sandringham – including the opening times and costs – on the official website.
Arriving in Sandringham
There is one fixed bus stop for the Estate, however the service operates on an unofficial hail and ride basis with drivers picking up passengers at unmarked bus stops where safe to do so.
The Sandringham visitor centre is a quaint little shelter nestled in the heart of the glorious Estate. If you manage to land a double decker for your journey, as Roger French did below, you’re in for a real treat!
Snettisham & Ingoldisthorpe
I stopped off in Snettisham and Ingoldisthorpe to explore these quaint little villages and to happily snap away at the Stagecoach and Lynx buses that were frequently ploughing the main roads between King’s Lynn and Hunstanton.
It’s admirable how well publicised the services from Lynx are – with bespoke timetable displays found at the most popular stops along the route. Below is an example from the Ingoldisthorpe Pond stop.
Splitting my journey in Hunstanton, enabling me to travel to Hunstanton via the Sandringham Estate, meant I had a 30 minute wait in the rather sparse bus station in the town centre.
With a nearby pier, promenade and arcades; there was a lot to do in that short break though! I also spotted some ridiculously cute birds too 👇
A sord of ducklings
Whilst changing buses in Hunstanton bus station, I spotted an adorable sord of Mallard ducklings nestling in the grass, taking shelter next to one of Lynx’s ex-Reading Gemini bodied DAFs.
After a speedy journey along the coastline from Hunstanton to Wells, with an exceedingly friendly driver, I arrived at the Buttlands stop.
One of the recent oddities with the Coasthopper service is the need to switch buses in Wells-next-the-Sea – thanks to Stagecoach ordering the wrong buses!
This tradition continues with the recent changes to the services – though it’s more understandable now, given the services are operated by different companies!
The connection times in Wells-next-the-Sea aren’t ideal though – with an approximately 16 minute wait between buses! Thankfully there are some decent shelters, so the crowds waiting for their bus will have somewhere comfortable to wait.
Sadly as this was a flying visit through Wells, I didn’t get to explore the town – but have made a note to on my next visit.
Quite possible the jewel in the crown of the Coasthopper route; Cromer is a stunning seaside town. With a magnificent pier, delicious fish and chips and an excellent transport network spreading far and wide.
It’s on this network that I explored the sights and sounds of Mundesley, North Walsham, Stalham, Holt and Fakenham. You can read more about those journeys on this very blog (coming soon)!
I’d wholeheartedly recommend visiting the North Norfolk coast and taking a trip on the Coastliner services from Lynx, the Coasthopper services from Sanders and pretty much every other service too!
There is wide array of fantastic sights and attractions to explore en-route too – from areas of outstanding natural beauty, such as the Blakeney Nature Reserve, to the hustle and bustle of the North Norfolk Railway between Sheringham and Holt.