RECENTLY a vote among regular bus users in the UK resulted in the Leeds-Whitby 840 Coastliner bus service 840 being voted Britain’s Most Scenic bus route.

Few would not agree that this two-hourly double-decker bus service through the heart of the North York Moors National Park, going past the Hole of Horcum to Goathland and Sleights, is not a worthy contender.

However, far less people are aware of what is perhaps an even more striking bus service, the Malham Tarn Shuttle 881, which only runs for a very limited season – on summer Sundays – through Craven, between Morecambe, Lancaster, Ingleton, Settle and Malham in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

From Ingleton the route follows the popular Monday to Saturday service KLCH Craven Connection 581 service through the villages of Clapham and Austwick to Settle.

These services feature in the new Ingleborough Walks booklet. Produced by Dales Bowland CIC for the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust Stories in Stone project, this booklet, available at visitor outlets in the area, including Settle and Ingleton TICs and Settle station, details ten beautiful linear walks in the Ingleborough area.

Several cross the summit or flanks of Ingleborough itself, either going out or returning on the 581 or 881 bus, the Settle Carlisle railway or the Bentham Line).

The Sunday Malham Tarn Shuttle 881 bus is partly financed by Northern Rail in partnership with the Settle-Carlisle Development Company, and actually waits for the 10:07 morning train from Leeds and Skipton at Settle Station (it will wait for several minutes if the train is running late) before heading off to Langcliffe, then climbing the steep, narrow road up to Malham Tarn, heading past the National Trust car park opposite the Tarn, across to Street Gate, before winding its way down Tarn Road to Malham village. A special smaller bus is used to negotiate the narrow lanes.

At Malham, the Shuttle then meets the Cravenlink 884 bus from Bradford, Ilkley and Skipton at Malham National Park Centre, with again a seamless interchange and through Dalesbus ticketing available. Because it starts in North Yorkshire, free senior passes are not permitted, but seniors, students and railcard holders can buy a special £7.50 Dales Privilege Rover ticket from the driver valid on all Sunday DalesBus services.

It also provides motorists with a park-and-ride shuttle service to save the long climb up to Malham Tarn, to allow less strong walkers the choice of following the fascinating board- walk Nature Trail around Malham Tarn, or taking the Pennine Way or alternative routes downhill back to Malham.

Views from the bus window include some of the most spectacular limestone scenery in the British Isles, across outcropping limestone pavement and crags, extensive panoramas across The Three Peaks, Ribblesdale, the Tarn, the National Trust Malham Tarn estate, Malhamdale and Pendle and the Wharfedale fells.

It is worth taking the journey for these views alone. But for keen walkers the choice of great hikes made accessible is simply amazing.

If you don’t want to come all the way by bus or train, just leave the car at Skipton, and take the 884 to Malham and 881 to the Tarn. The bus will stop at any safe place to drop or pick up walkers. You can follow the Pennine Way over Fountains Fell and Pen-y-Ghent to Horton in Ribblesdale then take a train back to Skipton. Or from behind Malham Tarn pick up the ancient Monks Road path from the edge of Malham Moor to Arncliffe in Littondale from where you can ascend Old Cote Moor to Kettlewell – with two late afternoon DalesBuses 874/X43 back to Ilkley and (changing at Grassington) Skipton.

Another classic is to walk from Street Gate onto Mastiles Lane, to follow this ancient drove road to Kilnsey, with a welcoming pub before the same buses back.

These dramatic walks cannot be done if you are restricted to circular walks from the car. But if you park and ride at Skipton you can return by alternative routes to get the best of both worlds. Few bus routes in Britain offer a more spectacular choice of walks.

Yet few walkers in the Craven area seem aware of the wonderful opportunities the 881 Malham Tarn Shuttle - surely Britain’s most truly scenic bus route – offers. The trip is so lovely, one of the regular 881 drivers, Colin Kennington, has prepared a superb video film of the journey, with a specially composed musical score, to show many more people what they are missing. It will be available in the next few weeks.

But don’t let the precious summer days pass before 881 ceases to run. Take the OS Explorer Map and work out the magnificent walks this little bus gives access to.

If you are not a walker, just a relaxing scenic trip to Ingleton is a wonderful day out.

The 881 runs every Sunday and Bank Holiday until October 21, so catch it while you can.

Details are in local Dalesbus leaflets and timetable booklet or download the times from