If you fancy spending a very special day riding a load of old buses through a military firing range, then reserve a date in August as Imberbus is returning.
ImberBus is a standard London bus route that happens to run on just one day a year and through the middle of the normally sealed-off Salisbury Plain, past burnt-out tanks and military bases to an abandoned medieval church in the middle of a military training village.
The buses also ride all over the place, through deep valleys and up steep hills in a landscape that is untouched by modern farmers and only occasionally smashed by the military testing their new artillery shells.
It’s a very peculiar and utterly delightful day out.
This year, they’ve now confirmed that when up to 25 old and new Routemaster buses (plus a few guest vehicles) will take part in the event, and also that it will only be open to the buses, no private vehicles will be allowed in this year.
The best way to enjoy Imberbus then is to catch a train to Warminster, and from there, buses will leave roughly every 15 minutes throughout the day heading into the military site and then at Imber, you can fan out across the empty landscape.
Imberbus 2023 will be held on Saturday 19th August, and the full timetable has now been published here.
But in essence, buses will depart from Warminster station from 9:45am through to 6pm, and once at Imber, there are loads of routes to choose from, with most having buses leaving roughly every 30 minutes.
Tickets provide unlimited travel all day for a fixed price of £10 for adults and £2 for children (5-16). Children under 5 are free. Pay on the day, cash preferred — there’s no booking in advance for this event, but I’ve never known there to be a problem getting a seat on a bus.
If you’ve never been to ImberBus, it’s one of the oddest days out you will ever have.
There will be refreshments available from Caspers Cafe on platform 1 of Warminster Station, (possibly) in Imber church, and at the village halls in Tilshead and Chitterne. The newly refurbished Market Lavington Museum will be open again in the Old School House next to the village church and serving cream teas until 5pm.
If you fancy something a bit stronger, then the route to Chitterne stops right outside the Churchill Arms at West Lavington and the buses pass near to other pubs at Market Lavington and Chitterne which are expected to be open for all or part of the day.
Full information is here.
Getting to ImberBus
If using public transport, the best way is to catch a train from Waterloo station to Warminster via Salisbury, and the buses will regularly depart from outside Warminster station.
A money saving tip – as you’ll need to change trains at Salisbury, rather than buying a return from London to Warminster, it’s often cheaper to buy a return to Salisbury and a separate return from Salisbury to Warminster, as splitting the tickets saves money.
Also if you add on a Network Railcard that saves a third off the fare on the London to Salisbury leg, so it’s even cheaper.
There is also a National Express coach service route 23X from Victoria Coach Station to Imber – details here.