New greener way to enjoy Dedham Vale

A GREENER way to enjoy some of the finest sites in the English countryside is back after a five-year break and will run throughout the summer months.

The Dedham Vale “hopper” bus was re-launched on Saturday and will travel around the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

The service will be free throughout this month and next and is running until the September 26.

After the initial free period it will be �2 for an all-day pass, allowing passengers to hop on and hop off the bus as they please.

The 15-seat hopper runs on a loop from Manningtree Station via Flatford, East Bergholt, Stratford St Mary and on to Dedham.

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It is hoped it will encourage visitors to use public transport during their trips to the Dedham Vale and has been designed to connect with the rail services from Liverpool Street Station to Manningtree and is also accessible from Norwich, Ipswich, Colchester and Harwich.

The service, which last ran in 2005, has been funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund’s “Managing a Masterpiece” programme with support from the National Trust and the Dedham Vale AONB and Stour Valley Project.

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Elaine Bryce, transport and tourism officer for the Dedham Vale AONB and Stour Valley Project, said there had been a great reaction from members of the public.

She said: “When we ran it last time there were some lovely stories to come out of it such as an elderly lady who had not been able to visit her husband’s grave and she used the hopper to do so.

“The great thing is that funding is in place for three years and we are planning to run the service even earlier next year.”

Adrian Clarke, of the National Trust, said “We are delighted to be supporting the hopper bus service as we want to encourage people to visit this beautiful area in a sustainable, environmentally-friendly way.”

The hopper is run by the Hadleigh Community Bus Service and is number 745 and will operate five days per week.

It will run on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday and will set off hourly from Manningtree Railway Station between 9.40am and 5.25pm.

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