A PIONEERING scheme is allowing pensioners in West Cumbria to enjoy ‘Grand Days Out’, opening access to fun after covid for its users.

Passenger Annette Collister was one of 20 pensioners who visited Carlisle by Stagecoach bus from Cockermouth to enjoy a visit to the cathedral, she said: “People were scared of - I still am - big crowds. I don't like big crowds. After the Covid lockdown, I didn't want to go on the buses anymore."

Fellow day-tripper Anne Kielland said the excursions offer something to look forward to: “Some days I can't even get out of bed with my mobility and with my pain.

Times and Star: The pensioners enjoyed the 'Rest under the stars' exhibition.The pensioners enjoyed the 'Rest under the stars' exhibition. (Image: Supplied)

“I geared myself up to come out because it's a lot of planning: painkillers and whatever. But we're excited because someone's taken an interest in our age group.”

And for Mary Carwell it was the first time she had been to Carlisle.

It was the ninth Grand Day Out organised by Stagecoach Cumbria and North Lancashire, aimed at getting older people to make use of their free bus passes – especially following the Covid pandemic – and taking the opportunity to make friends and explore new places.

It is supported by Age UK and businesses across the county, combining bus travel with unique experiences.

The most recent day trip saw the group catch the bus at Cockermouth to Carlisle, for a visit to the city’s cathedral.

Once they had arrived, there was the chance to look at the current art exhibition in the Fratry Hall.

Times and Star: The group enjoyed a natter over lunch in the Cathedral café.The group enjoyed a natter over lunch in the Cathedral café. (Image: Supplied)

After a natter over lunch provided by Stagecoach, the group visited the Undercroft, enjoying a felted star workshop.

The rest of the afternoon offered the opportunity to experience the Prism Arts bespoke installation Rest Under the Stars on deckchairs.Times and Star: The pensioners enjoyed the Cathedral's exhibition.The pensioners enjoyed the Cathedral's exhibition. (Image: Supplied)

Ali Desovska, Community Worker for Age UK West Cumbria, said: “These initiatives with Stagecoach allow our pensioners to get out and about across Cumbria – which for many of them simply wouldn't have been possible otherwise.

“The Grand Days Out overcome the issue of us not having our own transport, so it’s been fantastic to work with Stagecoach on these days out.

“The feedback from those who take part is always excellent. As soon as we’ve enjoyed one Grand Day Out, they all want to know when the next one is and where we’re going next!”


The first day trip was held in 2021, and the popularity of the excursions has seen a steady increase in the number of people taking part.

Tom Waterhouse, Stagecoach's interim managing director, said the initiative was launched after the pandemic, when many older residents were hesitant to use buses. He explained that people had been continuing to apply for their free bus pass, but fewer people were using them.

The Rev’d Canon Benjamin Carter, Canon Warden at Carlisle Cathedral, said: “We extended a warm welcome to our visitors from Age UK and hope they had a wonderful time exploring all that Carlisle Cathedral has to offer.