IN 1966 Gerald Davis boarded a bus and started a journey which took him across five continents and almost 50 countries.

The vehicle was operated by the Penn Overland Company, a Hereford-based tour operator which pioneered adventure travel by bus between 1959 and 1981.

Gerald spent four years travelling the world on an extended holiday with Penn, before being offered a job to develop their new bus tour across South America.

Nearly 50 years since his maiden trip he has now published an evocative his - tory of the Herefordshire company.

He said: “My years travel - ling and later working with Penn were some of the most enjoyable and challenging of my life.

“Penn took you to far distant locations and out of the way places you never dreamed you would ever see.”

The tour operator was founded by Norman MacLeod and Michael Wood Power from Hereford in 1959 and was based at Cross Farm, Credenhill.

Penn rose to prominence in the 1960s and 1970s thanks to the quality of its tours and its reputation for communal travel.

Gerald said: “The length of the tours meant the group usually became one big happy family by the end of the tour. “Many pas - sengers and crew members met their future partners on a Penn tour.”

Problems in Iran however led to the downfall of the Penn Overland Company and it closed in 1981.

Much of Penn’s early documentation and memorabilia was lost when it closed down. This hindered Gerald’s task of compiling a history and meant he had to spend several years of detailed research to complete his project, including contacting Penn passen - gers and employees from around the world.

A formal launch of Faraway Places with Strange Sounding Names: The Penn Overland Story is taking place at Burton Court, Eardisland, on February 15, between 11am-1pm.

Gerald, 78, from Somerset, now lives in Sydney, Australia, but will attend the launch.

To purchase a book contact Gerald at