The Hope Valley Explorer was due to start its service later this month. Photo: Daniel Wildey

The Hope Valley Explorer was due to start its service later this month. Photo: Daniel Wildey

A planned seasonal bus service in the Peak District will not now take place this year.

Coronavirus restrictions have led to the cancelling of the Hope Valley Explorer during the summer months.

The service was scheduled to begin running at the end of May after a successful introduction last year, funded as a pilot scheme by the Peak District National Park Authority and operated by Stagecoach.

David Marsden, the authority’s transport policy officer, said: “It’s with great disappointment that we have to announce that the Hope Valley Explorer bus service will not run this summer.

“However, it is critical that we help keep everyone safe during the coronavirus measures by following the government’s social distancing guidance and complying with the advice on non-essential travel beyond where people usually live or work. Because of this we have decided to cancel the Hope Valley Explorer for the 2020 summer season.

“Along with our partners Stagecoach, we were really looking forward to extending the Hope Valley Explorer’s period of operation following the fantastic response from the people who used the bus last year. In light of the ongoing crisis, we hope people will understand our decision.”

The route provided links for people in Chesterfield, Dronfield and the outskirts of Sheffield, as well as those arriving by train in the Hope Valley, to visit the national park without using their cars.

Last year the flexible hop-on, hop-off service operated every day for six weeks in July and August, covering the school holidays period. This year it was due to be extended to include every weekend from end of May to the end of September, in addition to every day in the school holidays during July and August.

Mr Marsden said: “Planning for and publicising public transport services can take many weeks, but with the current level of uncertainties and to avoid impacts further into the season, it was important to make the decision now and inform people.

“We had published from some limited advertising before the Covid-19 crisis, but no further publicity has taken place since government measures were implemented.”

The Hope Valley Explorer is being funded for a three-year seasonal pilot scheme by the Peak District National Park Authority and operated by Stagecoach. The scheme aims to assess the viability of running similar services long-term to ease pressure from private cars in the National Park and support linked sustainable transport by the use of rail services.

Mr Marsden added: “All being well, we are planning to run the full and extended service next year, and the good news is that the 2020 season will be ’skipped’ in the pilot, so it will still get its full three years – 2019, 2021 and 2022 – as we want the service’s results to truly show its potential, which we wouldn’t get this year.

“We hope that when it returns the scenic tour the Hope Valley Explorer offers, including the Derwent dams and the villages of Edale and Castleton, will play a key part in re-engaging Peak District visitors and local communities. For all who love this area it is worth waiting for.”

More details are on the Peak District national park website.

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