A new bus service linking East Lancashire towns and the Yorkshire Dales with the Forest of Bowland has been launched.

The new Bowland Rambler service forms an integral part of the highly praised and successful DalesBus network of leisure bus services through to the Yorkshire Dales.

The Dales & Bowland Community Interest Company (D&BCIC) has set up the project in partnership with Transdev Burnley and Pendle, to restore a Sunday and Bank Holiday public transport service between several towns in East Lancashire and both the heart of the Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and the Yorkshire Dales National Park.  Sundays are by far the most popular days of the week to visit both the AONB and the Dales.

The service, which is due to run for a total of 28 Sundays and Bank Holidays between early May and mid October, will connect several East Lancashire towns – Accrington, Great Harwood, Blackburn, Whalley, Colne, Nelson and Burnley with Clitheroe, then travel forward to Waddington, Newton, Slaidburn, Tosside (for Gisburn Forest), Wigglesworth, Rathmell and Settle.  At Settle there will be connections to Ingleton and Malham, as well as connections being also available from Leeds and Skipton off the Settle – Carlisle railway service back to Slaidburn and Clitheroe, thus opening a huge new market for the Forest of Bowland AONB from West Yorkshire.

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A range of bargain priced multi-journey tickets will be available and valid on the linking bus service and senior concession passes will be valid.

Jo Turton, environment director, said in a report, “Such access is of particular importance on Sundays and Bank Holidays in the summer months, and will allow many hundreds of people without access to their own transport, to enjoy a range of outdoor recreation opportunities in the area.

“There will also be real help for rural businesses in the area, including Newton, Waddington, Slaidburn, Tosside, Settle including local B&Bs and Slaidburn and Ingleton Youth Hostels, who will  have return transport to Lancashire towns late on Sunday afternoon, as well as benefiting from extra visitor spending power in the area.

Colin Speakman, chairman of the Yorkshire Dales Society said, “We are delighted to work with the Forest of Bowland AONB and with the Transdev Burnley and Pendle bus company to set up this pilot bus service.

“It will enable people from many towns in East Lancashire on the doorstep of the AONB, including Burnley, Nelson, Accrington, Blackburn and Clitheroe to reach this magnificent area of countryside, to enjoy a health-giving country walk or to visit several of the attractions in the area, including the villages of Slaidburn, Newton and Tosside, the beautiful Hodder valley and the wonderful Gisburn Forest.

“But it will also give access to Settle, gateway to the Yorkshire Dales, and enable people living in both Settle and elsewhere in north and west Yorkshire, to have a day in the Forest of Bowland, something that has not been possible on Sundays and Bank Holidays – by far the most popular day for visits – for many years.

“This new service would not have been possible without the generous support of several key sponsors, including the Yorkshire Dales Society itself, the Forest of Bowland JAC, Lancashire County Council, Ribble Valley District Council, Hyndburn Borough Council and the Forestry Commission.

“We hope that as many people as possible – local people as well as visitors – will use their new Sunday service which will operate right through summer and early autumn, until 20 October, the end of British summer time. Only if the buses are well filled will we have the possibility of keeping the service for 2014 and for future years.”

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