If this is your sort of thing, you'd probably like to read about our visit to Stockwell Bus Garage too.
What's that coming over the hill — is it a 'master, is it a 'master?
Actually it's over 25 Routemasters. This is Imberbus — the annual parade of double-decker London buses from Warminster to Chitterne — via Salisbury Plain and a collection of bucolic villages, including Imber (hence the event's esoteric name).
The uncanny sight comes with a backstory to match. Residents of the small village of Imber in Wiltshire were turfed out of their village by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) in 1943 so the land could be used for military exercises. They were promised their village back at the end of the war. That never happened.
Fast forward to a tipsy conversation in a Bath pub in 2009, some schmoozing with the MoD's top brass, and the concept of Imberbus was born... Imber may not have any residents, but by heck, it was going to have a (once-annually) bus service.
Imberbus has since ballooned into something of a cult event, some bus fanatics even coming from overseas to experience it.
How do you take part? All you need to do is get to Warminster station in Wiltshire on Saturday 19 August 2023. Trains from Paddington to Warminster take as little as 1 hour 35 minutes.
The first vintage Routemasters run from Warminster to Imber at 9.45am, and then throughout the day every 15 minutes or so until late afternoon. Buses serving Tilshead, Chitterne, New Zealand Farm Camp, West Lavington, Market Lavington and Brazen Bottom go twice an hour throughout most of the day, while one morning and two afternoon journeys run direct between Warminster and Chitterne (not via Imber). Check out the 2023 timetable to see what's what.
There are various landmarks, events and refreshments to get stuck into, including Imber Church, Caspers Cafe at Warminster Station, the village halls in Tilshead and Chitterne, and Market Lavington Museum.
Day tickets for Imberbus are £10 (children ride for just £2 on top of this). This gives you unlimited rides, allowing you to try different buses, and stop off in various villages along the way. There's no need to book ahead — in fact you can't. Buses only accept cash, but you should be able to purchase tickets from a special desk at Warminster in the morning using a card. Cash machines are also available in Warminster Market Place — five minutes walk from the rail station.
In recent years, the event raised £22,000 for the Imber Church fund and the Royal British Legion — so your cash is going to a good cause.
By the way, cars, motorbikes, cycles, scooters and pedestrians are NOT permitted access to the military roads on Imberbus day, so don't try to join in that way.
Get all the other information you need on the Imberbus website.