Kitten takes free 700-mile ride in tour bus wheel housing

A kitten nicknamed Axle hitched a ride in the wheel arch of a tourist coach - for nearly 700 miles.

The four-month-old ginger kitten is understood to have got trapped in the vehicle in south west England but wasn't discovered until it reached the north of the country four days later.

In between it went on a nationwide tour that took in Lands' End, London, Windsor and Birmingham before ending up in Cumbria.

He was eventually set free after a mechanic investigated unusual noises a driver heard coming from underneath the coach.

Axle is now being cared for by vets who have issued an appeal to reunite him with his owner.

The cat was finally recovered on Monday afternoon and a large crowd gathered to watch him being pulled free from the wheel.

Driver Bill Henderson said he first heard what he described as a "crying" noise after departing from Devon, England four days earlier.

He said: "I never thought anything of it but just thought it was a strange noise of the wheel.

"But then I could hear it on the other side.

"The mechanic came out and was doing a safety check on vehicle and as I turned the steering he said 'is this your cat?

"I said 'what cat?' and then all I could see was this wee face looking at me.

"The noise started off down in the Torquay area and I traveled all round Cornwall to Land's End, and Tintagel so he saw a fair bit of the country.

"The best laugh was when they took the cat out there was a young girl who asked what we should call it.

"I said if it turned out to be a boy we can call it Axle."

Oakhill vets said: "It's very lucky, it's all ok, just a bit grubby.

"The driver heard some squeaking coming from his bus for the last week. 

"Eventually, he located the source of the squeaking and it was this little kitten, which we'd estimate is a couple of months old.

"The exact origin of the cat's journey can't be confirmed but the squeaking sound began in Torquay, according to the driver."

One staff member, Becca Myers, said she had "not seen anything like it" in her 11 years at Oakhill Vets.

Axle isn't micro-chipped and has no collar, but proof of ownership will be needed to get him back.