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Making the link between walking and public transport in the Shropshire Hills (25th October 2011)

Shropshire is leading the way in encouraging people to not only get-out-there, and get walking, but also in using public transport to access footpaths, by-ways and quiet country lanes in some of the most remote and rural locations in Britain.

Joined-up thinking, and an integrated transport system are the two key ingredients behind the launch of a series of 12 new circular walks in the world-famous Shropshire Hills.

The new Walking with Offa trails have all been walked, mapped, way-marked and presented in both leaflet format and on the web. More importantly, they have also been chosen for being in areas of the Shropshire Hills, which are accessible not only by regular, public transport but are, also within the zones operated by the innovative ShropshireLink.

Described as "an innovative solution to providing a public transport bus service in all rural parts of Shropshire", the service is aimed squarely at making travelling around isolated areas of the county far easier.

Unlike a traditional bus service, ShropshireLink is not restricted to a set route or timetable. Instead, the buses are able to actually meet the demands of people who wish to travel to their nearest market town, pub, or the start of a walk.  The buses even have the ability to make travel easier by picking-up passengers from their hotels, guest houses, B&Bs or homes.

ShropshireLink operates across nine different zones, each one being made up of several smaller areas where buses now operate on two or more selected days between Monday and Saturday.  Shropshire Link can also connect to higher frequency bus and rail services to allow for onward travel to a wider selection of destinations.

The vehicles have a capacity of 16 seats, much smaller than a normal bus, making them more suitable for driving on rural roads and more comfortable for the passengers.

All ShropshireLink services need to be pre-booked with the dedicated team at its Customer Service Centre, who are trained to help make the whole system very simple ­ by identifying the area required and booking return tickets to and from chosen locations. Full details can be found at http://bit.ly/ihyY9m.

Shropshire Link and other rural bus and train services are at the very heart of the 12 new Walking with Offa circular walks, all of which fall within Shropshire Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

The 12 walks, and four Days Out are currently being added to the Shropshire Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty website, one-by-one:

http://www.shropshirehillsaonb.co.uk/.  Further details can also be found by following @ShropHillsAONB on Twitter.