LUNE Valley campaigners say they are delighted a new bus service will restore lost rural transport links to villagers this spring.

Kirkby Lonsdale Coach Hire Ltd is teaming up with Lancashire County Council to introduce the new 582 route, giving back a daytime bus link to the villages of Gressingham, Arkholme and Whittington.

The new two-hourly bus service, operating Monday to Saturday daytime, will run between Lancaster and Kirkby Lonsdale via Caton, Brookhouse, Hornby, Gressingham, Arkholme and Whittington.

For two leading lights of the Lune Valley Bus Action Group, Duncan Foster and John Keegan, the news is just the ticket after an enthusiastic campaign to bring buses back to the River Lune's "poorly served" west bank.

Morecambe and Lunesdale MP David Morris was among those who backed the cause, along with local Lancashire county councillors Phillippa Williamson and Susie Charles.

"We've battled for this," said Mr Foster, the Whittington resident who hit the headlines in 2016 when he resorted to hitch-hiking to the pub in a hi-vis vest. Funding cuts by Lancaster County Council had seen the number of buses between the village and places like Lancaster and Kirkby Lonsdale, two miles away, drop from 111 per week to just five.

However, the council is now improving a number of services after agreeing last year to give an extra £1m to support buses - an increase from £2m to £3m.

The Lune Valley Bus Action Group is urging locals to patronise the new 582. Campaigners Mr Keegan and Mr Foster have sent their "heartfelt thanks" to the council, saying: "It's important that we now ensure the convenient availability of the timetables for this service, especially at Lancaster bus station, so we can attempt to provide enough customers to reflect your efforts."

Cllr Andrew Snowden, lead member for highways and transport, visited the Lune Valley recently to meet the director of Kirkby Lonsdale Coach Hire, Matt Sutton.

He said there will be "a host of marketing and publicity for the route and the timetable", with all involved committed to making it a success and "ensuring patronage is high from the start".

Cllr Snowden added: "It is a great pleasure to be able to provide these services and hopefully make a difference to the daily lives of many people in the Lune Valley."

The new 582 service is an extension to the existing commercial service from Kirkby Lonsdale to Skipton. It will link with Kirkby Lonsdale Coach Hire's wider North Yorkshire Craven Connection services 580 and 581 offering through links to Ingleton, Settle and Skipton.

Once finalised, the new 582 timetable is to be published at