First free bus trip from Uckfield to Ashdown Forest welcomed

Walkers were able to catch a bus free of charge from Uckfield to the Ashdown Forest on Saturday to enjoy a guided walk before heading back again.

The transport initiative was run jointly by the Wealden Bus Alliance and Sussex Rail Partnership.

The project provides a free bus service, instead of using a car, for a healthy guided walk in Ashdown Forest.  Walks are on the first Saturday of each month running alternately from Uckfield and East Grinstead Rail Stations.

Sharon Gray from Sussex Rail Partnership said: “We are delighted to be involved with  this scheme to allow people, especially those who don’t have access to a car to take  healthy walks in Ashdown Forest.”

Chairman of the Wealden Bus Alliance Barry Marlowe added, ” This is an excellent example of an integrated transport initiative, between rail and bus, and feedback  we received on Saturday, was very positive, with many people saying they would recommend the scheme to friends.

Dee McDonald,  from the Ashdown Forest Visitor Centre, who are organisers of the walks said: “We are very pleased to be supporting  this scheme which encourages people to come to the forest on public transport and at the same time helps to protect the environment from harmful emissions, by leaving their car at home.”

The bus was supplied by Wealdlink Community Transport,  whose Chairman, Dave Graham, said: ”As the main provider of community transport in the Ashdown Forest area we are looking forward to being a part of this initiative.”

Victoria  Ansell,  driver of the first bus from Uckfield added: “As the bus is timed to coincide with the trains, the convenience and ease of travelling from the railway station directly into the centre of Ashdown Forest for a good healthy walk and a cup of tea afterwards, really can’t be beaten.“

A free bus service will next take walkers from  Uckfield Station to the forest on the first Saturday in May departing 10.30 and returning at 13.15 to connect with the train at Uckfield Station.

Free travel on Metro Bus service 270 from East Grinstead Station for a similar walk will be available on the first Saturday in April, departing at 10.15  with the return journey at 12.45 to connect with train at East Grinstead Station.

The walks start and finish in Ashdown  Forest at the National Cat Centre where a café, gift shop, and toilets are available. Each walk will last just over a hour.

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