New bus service for Forest of Bowland
A new bus service through and to the heart of the Forest of Bowland is being launched on Sunday 7th May 2017. The Bowland Explorer will connect with Bentham Line rail services from Leeds and Morecambe at Bentham station, on Sundays from 7th May until 24th September 2017. At the other end of its route the Bowland Explorer will connect with Clitheroe Line rail services to and from Manchester, Bolton and Blackburn (connections for Preston). The service will also operate on Bank Holiday Mondays in late May and August.
The buses start from Lancaster Station early on Sunday mornings to provide a service between Lancaster and Bentham via Caton, Hornby, Wray and Wennington station, at a time when there is no scheduled train, before commencing its Bowland duties.
In addition to the journeys to and from Lancaster station and Bentham the Explorer service will operate three return services through the Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) with two of them going through to Clitheroe and the third to Gisburn Forest Hub. It will also provide a link to the Yorkshire Dales at Ingleton and Clapham.
This new venture between the Leeds-Morecambe Community Rail Partnership (CRP), the Dales and Bowland Community Interest Company (DBCIC) and the Forest of Bowland AONB has brought about this further innovation for the Bentham Line. The Bowland Explorer will enable both local residents and visitors to enjoy an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and a National Park, whilst at the same time linking villages and hamlets with the public transport network, in some cases for the first time in decades.
Sandra Silk for The Forest of Bowland AONB said, “We are planning a series of walks and country activities to complement the Bowland Explorer service at various points along the route during the summer. Numerous self-guided walks are available throughout the AONB along with the CRP’s award-winning Rail to Trail programme between and from the Bowland Gateway stations at Wennington, Bentham, Clapham and Giggleswick. Whether it be a fell or forest walk, a gentle stroll, a mountain bike ride, Sunday lunch in a country pub or afternoon tea by the river, here is a new range of leisure opportunities.”
Gerald Townson, Chair of the CRP, said “The new service has been made possible as a result of our successful bid for £4,500 to the Seed-Corn Fund of Arriva Rail North Ltd as well as funding and in-kind support from the participating organisations. This is also an opportunity to open up the Forest of Bowland AONB to a far wider audience from right across the North, with railway links to the major conurbations of West Yorkshire and Greater Manchester, and to encourage visitors to make use of a more environmentally friendly travelling option to explore this beautiful area straddling the Yorkshire-Lancashire border.”
Colin Speakman, of the Dales and Bowland Community Interest Company added "It's wonderful news that, working together, we have been able to develop this imaginative new bus service into the heart of the Forest of Bowland AONB. It will give opportunity for so many people living in nearby towns and cities, young and old, who don't have access to car to also be able to experience this spectacular part of England's North Country”.
Full details about the service, timetable, fares and activities will be available from mid-April both in print, at stations and tourist information centres, and on the partners’ websites. Details can be obtained free by post from: LMCRP, Bentham Station Building, Station Road, Bentham, Lancaster, LA2 7LF or by telephoning: 015242 98940.