Today the sight of Mountain Goat coaches touring the valleys and passes of the Lake District has become a familiar sight.

However, where its fleet now numbers around 30, there was once just one, which made the company’s inaugural passenger-less trip over Kirkstone Pass on a wet Good Friday in 1972.

In the intervening 50 years it is estimated The Mountain Goat buses have covered enough miles to travel to the moon and back 40 times and it now has a team of 16 and carries tens of thousands of passengers in the Lake District, Yorkshire and North Wales each year.

Initially called The Lake District Minibus Company, the name soon changed when a passenger on an early test run over the fells told founder, Chris Taylor: “Blimey Chris – this is like riding a mountain goat!”

The venture was first launched to link communities in Lake District valleys left isolated by cuts to bus services in rural areas. But it soon became clear there was a big market for carrying tourists around the area as well as serving local people.

In the first year services linking Hawkshead, Grizedale and Lakeside quickly appeared. Integrated transport solutions existed even then with the Glenridding service tying in with the departure times of the Ullswater Steamer creating the first Boat ‘n’ Goat service.

In the following year the company applied to run tours over Wrynose and Hardknott passes. Despite objections about congestion the service, which came to be known as the Wasdale Flyer, went ahead.

Hotel guests arriving by car were encouraged to leave their vehicles in the car park and those who came by coach enjoyed tour packages with Mountain Goat, the transport service working in partnership with hoteliers to promote the area. When Chris’s wife Carol joined the business from a career in the travel industry based in London, she used her experience to promote the Lake District to the international market.

Mountain Goat today is renowned for its exciting and inspiring choice of guided sightseeing tours. It also provides exclusive group hire, walking guide services, the ‘Cross Lakes Experience’ bus service, Lake District Tour and Stay Breaks and touring holidays in the North and Borders. Passengers can join tours to the Lakes from Chester, Manchester, Liverpool and York, as well as from within Cumbria.

“I’ve grown up with The Mountain Goat,” says Robin Tyson, who joined in 2012, becoming operations director four years later.

“My mum and dad ran a guesthouse in Windermere and my first memories are of the bus turning up to collect guests, who would then be out all day and we could get on with the cleaning. I also remember how they’d talk about how much they’d enjoyed the ride.

“That ethos, of looking after our customers, remains at the heart of the company today. It’s important to the Lakes to do this as we are showcasing the area to the world.”

The company has been owned by Stephen Broughton and Sir Norman Stoller since 1993 and they are proud of the team that continues to operate the Goat in the same successful way it began.

Having operated from a small chalet along from Booths in Windermere – now a milkshake kiosk – in 1999 the business moved into larger premises around the corner where it also won the contract to run the tourist information service in 2014.

Stephen says much of the company’s success is down to its driver-guides.

“They use their personalities and expertise to educate and entertain passengers while showing them some of the most stunning landscapes in the world,” he says.

“We are thrilled to bits to be celebrating our Golden Anniversary and to know The Mountain Goat is a Lake District icon around the world.”

The mainstay of the 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 mostly Mercedes Sprinters, ranging from six seaters to 24 seaters.

“Over the last 50 years the number of people coming to the Lake District has multiplied massively along with the number of cars coming,” says Stephen.

“It is important to try and to get cars off the roads and The Mountain Goat helps this while enabling people from all around the world to enjoy all that the Lake District has to offer.”