Updated 17th February 2013.
The second in our series looking at how to get to our region's major tourist attractions by bus looks at Marwell
Located near Fishers Pond, Marwell is one of the best zoos in the country. Unfortunately, it used to be a lot easier to get to than it currently is. I remember when I was little, every Sunday the 48 (predecessor to Bluestar 2) would run right up to the zoo entrance. Shamefully, the zoo is now rather isolated from public transport. It does still have that bus stop right by the entrance:
But since Hampshire County Council cut funding for Stagecoach 69 to divert there on Sundays, it is currently served by no buses at all.
Last year Velvet M ran on Saturdays, Sundays and bank holidays, providing a direct service to the zoo from Eastleigh. It looks like it will be running again this year, probably starting on Good Friday. We'll let you know as soon as this is confirmed.
If you want to go to Marwell before that or on a weekday, you face a bit of a walk from Fishers Pond, where Xelabus X8, Brijan 8 and Stagecoach 69 stop. On a Sunday, only Bluestar 2 runs in the area and you'll have to walk from the top of Sandy Lane:
Here are the stops you'll need to use at Fishers Pond:
From there, you'll need to walk along Portsmouth Road...
... which has no footpath, then Thompson's Lane...
... which also has no footpath, but it does have a bus stop, currently served by no buses. You might want to reconsider whether you really want to go as these are narrow country lanes. I certainly wouldn't feel safe walking along them with young children.
If you do decide to go, how much can you expect it to cost?
If travelling from the Fareham and Bishops Waltham direction on Stagecoach 69, you can use the Stagecoach South Hants Dayrider (£6 adult, £5 child).
If you want to use Brijan 8 or Xelabus X8, then contact them directly to find out what their fares are. If connecting at Eastleigh from Bluestar or Velvet, then use a Solent Travelcard, valid all day on all buses (except Xelabus) in most of South Hampshire for £7.50 per person. This is also the best ticket to use if you're travelling from Winchester on Stagecoach 69.
If you're travelling from beyond Winchester on Stagecoach and connecting there to the 69, then you can use a Dayrider Gold, valid on all Stagecoach buses in Hampshire, Sussex and Surrey for one day (£8.20 adult, £6.40 child).
If you're arriving at Eastleigh by train and are tempted by the PlusBus ticket, bear in mind that it is not accepted on Brijan Tours or Xelabus. You'd have to catch Bluestar 2 to the top of Sandy Lane and either walk or catch Stagecoach 69 for a couple of stops and then walk from Fishers Pond.
When Velvet M is back up and running, details of fares will be on the Velvet website. The PlusBus zone ends at Fishers Pond, so even if you're arriving by train, you'll need to buy a return on the bus in order to get to Marwell. Solent Travelcard will be valid on the full route however.
Don't forget there's a full interactive journey planner at Traveline.
On a completely unrelated topic, Bluestar have tarted up their website. It includes a few pages of places of to visit, including what is meant to read "Brockenhurst". I wonder if one of their drivers didn't enjoy a day out there...