6th March 2008
THE popular Heather Hopper bus service is back again this year – with more routes and facilities for the public to enjoy.
The Heather Hopper provides the only cross-Park bus service and will run twice daily between Ballater and Grantown-on-Spey from mid-May to the end of September. The buses will be visiting more places as well, with some going to Newtonmore, Kingussie, Kincraig and Aviemore.
The 501 service is being operated jointly by Coopers Tourmaster and Stagecoach Bluebird. Cyclists will be able to use some services for the first time, as Coopers offers free cycle carriage for up to four bikes. Stagecoach Bluebird buses are adapted for easy access for all.
The Heather Hopper is now in its third year and is funded by Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA), The Highland Council and Aberdeenshire Council.
The Heather Hopper will help to provide high quality opportunities for outdoor access, one of the Priorities for Action in the Cairngorms National Park Plan, which sets out the Park’s short and long term future. It will also offer a more sustainable form of transport for those who want to leave their cars at home, or do not have access to a car.
In a bid to encourage tourists to use the service Cairngorms Hostels, a body representing around 20 independent hostels around the Park, will also be promoting the service.
CNPA board member and Highland Councillor, Stuart Black, said: “The Heather Hopper has proved over the past few years that it offers a much needed service. Due to its popularity we are extending the routes and facilities so more people can take advantage of this cross-Park service.
“It is important residents and visitors help to establish a sustainable Park and this excellent service is one way of doing that.”
Ian Bishop, Chairman of Cairngorms Hostels, said: “Cairngorms Hostels are delighted that the Heather Hopper service is back again and pleased to see the early release of timetables and information on bicycle carriages, two important aspects for visitors.”
The Heather Hopper was withdrawn in the 1990s, but was re-launched as a pilot scheme by the three partners in 2006 to meet the need for rural public transport.
Timetable information is available here. Cyclists wishing to use Coopers should book cycle carriage on 01540 673 000.