Take a Heather Hopper trip...

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Following this week’s announcement by Stagecoach of the return of the Monarch of the Glen bus route, the 501 is also up and running.

The Heather Hopper, number 501, started running services from Ballater to Blairgowrie on July 7.

Owing to lack of demand, the Heather Hopper was previously terminated but reinstated again this year.

The Heather Hopper offers a seasonal bus route from Ballater to Blairgowrie via Cairnwell.

The 501 is set to run until September 7.

This is the same end date as the Monarch of the Glen bus 200, which runs from Glen Muick to Linn O’Dee.

Cllr. Linda Clark said of the Glen Muick summer service: “This service is a great opportunity for people to enjoy Upper Deeside in particular.

“Tourists and local folk alike have used the Heather Hopper over to Blairgowrie in the past and, with some support from our local Piper, this will prove popular again.”

The Heather Hopper is making a welcome return, although the bus, which departs from Ballater at 9.30am daily, is running for a shorter season than in previous years.

It is believed that the service was not making as much profit as hoped owing to many of its passengers travelling on the route with National Entitlement Cards, which provide free bus travel for the over 60s.

The Heather Hopper service was previously withdrawn during the 1990s.

Passengers from Banchory can pick up the bus at Ballater by catching the 8.46am service, number 201, from the High Street, which meets the 501 at Ballater Bus Depot.

A spokesperson for Stagecoach said: “Making a comeback for 2014, the 501 shire to shire service offers a direct link between Aberdeenshire and Perthshire and is already proving to be a tourist hit this summer.

“With a scenic route to be envied, passengers can make their connection at Ballater or Braemar with further connections offered at Perth and Dundee.”

The 501 operates the only direct route in the area.