Former London Busman Now Living The Lakeland Dream
Elliott Linnen never takes the joy of driving visitors around the stunning Lake District for granted.
As a driver/guide with the iconic Lake District minibus company The Mountain Goat he’s convinced he has one of the best “offices” in the world.
And he appreciates that “office” every time he takes the wheel – because for many years he endured the traffic jams and hurly burly of working the clogged roads of London in a big red London bus.
“There’s nothing quite like driving people around the Lake District on a sunny day,”says Elliott who’s 56.
“They are mostly on holiday and looking to have as great time. It’s a lovely job.”
It’s a big change from his earlier days on the roads of the capital. For eight years he worked as a dispatch rider in London. He even took and passed “The Knowledge”, the test to become a qualified London cabbie, but eventually ended up driving a red London bus.
“I used to drive the N15 route from the East End to Marble Arch and I can honestly say its one of the worst jobs you can do of a night time!”, says Elliott.
“You used to get a lot of drunk people on the bus and they would get up to all sorts. I once had a chocolate milk shake thrown all over me. That’s never happened on The Mountain Goat!” he laughs.
“In London, I had once incident when I drove from Barking to Beckton in a single decker and every single window in the bus was smashed by people throwing stones and anything else they could get their hands on!”
Life in the Lake District with The Mountain Goat is a totally different story, says Elliott.
“Without a doubt this is the best job I have had in my life,” he explains.
”It’s not really like work – it’s a pleasure showing visitors around this beautiful part of the country.”
The Mountain Goat is celebrating its Golden anniversary this year and is currently looking for new drivers to join its ranks.
“If anyone is considering it I’d tell them to come and join the team straight away,” says Elliott.
“Don’t give it a second thought. Sign up and give it a go. You’ll love it.”
The award-winning company started life in 1972 when its first minibus set off on an inaugural trip over the Kirkstone Pass to Glenridding – without any passengers!
Since then, it’s flourished and now carries tens of thousands of passengers every year. It’s estimated The Mountain Goat buses have covered enough miles over the last 50 years to travel to the moon and back 40 times!
Elliott’s family also owns and runs a popular B&B in the Lake District. He moved up to the Lake District from London around 20 years ago. He fits his Mountain Goat driving around his other work with the B&B.
“You can drive as much or as little as you like – it’s very flexible,” he explains.
“I always wanted to be a clippie on a London bus – ever since watching the comedy programme “On the Buses” when I was a youngster,” he says.
“But if I had the choice of working on a London bus – or driving a Mountain Goat vehicle here in the Lakes – it’s no contest! I’d go for The Mountain Goat all the time! It’s not like working for a living!”
The mainstay of The Mountain Goat fleet in the early days were converted Ford Transit minibuses with roof racks to carry backpacks and other equipment. The company now has a fleet of around 30 luxury vehicles, mostly Mercedes Sprinters, ranging from 6 seaters to 24 seaters.
“Much of our success over the years is down to our drivers – who are more than just drivers,” says Director Stephen Broughton.
“They are guides who use their personalities and expertise to educate and entertain passengers while showing them some of the most stunning landscapes in the world.”
Elliott is a prime example. He now knows the Lake District lanes as well as he once knew the capital’s busy roads. And his enthusiasm for his job – makes any trip on a Mountain Goat minibus an adventure to remember.