Bowland's Dark Skies Recognised Nationally

11th November 2015

Imagine yourself on a frosty, winter evening wrapped in an inky darkness and sprinkled in starlight, in awe of the view as the cosmos magically reveals itself in the wondrous dark skies of Bowland….

There's no better time to explore Bowland's dark skies thanks to a national initiative that has recently given Dark Sky Discovery Site status for four sites in the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.  Dark Sky Discovery Sites are recognised by the Dark Sky Discovery Partnership, managed by the Science and Technology Facilities Council UK Astronomy Technology Centre in Edinburgh, as places within the UK that are both dark and easily accessible, but where it is possible to observe the spectacle of the Milky Way or the constellations, such as Orion, with the naked eye.

Hetty Byrne, Forest of Bowland Sustainable Tourism Officer said: 'We're delighted to join the Dark Sky Discovery Partnership's growing network of sites which highlight the best spots to see the night skies in the UK.  The AONB, as part of its sustainable tourism developments, put forward four sites for approval by the Dark Sky Discovery programme - Beacon Fell Country Park, Crook O'Lune Picnic Site, Gisburn Forest Hub and Slaidburn Village Car Park.  They are accessible sites, with good sightlines and relatively low light pollution, giving people the best possible conditions to just turn up and see the stars on a clear night.'

The AONB has been working with local physicist and amateur astronomer Robert Ince, who has assessed the night skies, how they are affected by light pollution and identified the best and darkest places to star gaze.  The process also involved consultation with land owners and local authorities to gain their support for the project.

During 2016 Robert is working with the AONB and will be offering a series of star gazing events and workshops through the Festival Bowland programme.  Robert explains: 'I love showing people the night skies, in the Forest of Bowland you can literally see thousands of stars; It has a real wow factor!  Everyone can enjoy stargazing with a pair of binoculars and some basic information on how to get started, including star maps. During 2016 we'll be running a series of events at Discovery site locations – during the spring when glittering star clusters and magnificent constellations like Orion grace the sky, and in the autumn when the Milky Way is overhead and meteor showers like the Perseids can put on an amazing show'. 

Get in touch if you would like to be added to our mailing list for star gazing events or keep an eye on updates on our website at:

Painting a Picture with Music

7th October 2015

An appreciative audience enjoyed an evening with Lakeland composer, Christopher Gibbs, recently, and learnt about the inspiration for his Forest of Bowland Suite.

The event was hosted by William Bowland, 16th Lord of Bowland, as the focus of his fifth annual lecture and was held in the lovely surroundings of Browsholme Hall's Tithe Barn.

Chris, who came originally from Surrey, had his first taste of Bowland as a youngster when he visited with his parents.  He told of their delight on a journey through the Trough, having had no idea that such landscapes existed in the area.

He returned many years later as an adult and it was during a walk on Pendle Hill that the inspiration for the first movement, Dawn on Pendle Hill, came to him.  Chris subsequently went on to write a further four movements: Clitheroe Market, Noonday Sun on Beacon Fell, Teatime in Chipping and Moon over Downham, to complete his popular suite.

After listening to a recording of each piece played by a piano/violin/cello trio, the first movement was then repeated – this time by string quartet followed by woodwind quartet – and the audience asked to choose their favourite.  A fairly similar show of hands for each version!

Although Chris now lives in Cumbria, he still holds fond memories of his time in Bowland, and on a recent visit to Downham with his wife, was very happy to find the village almost unchanged.

Chris's music, and work by other members of the Lakeland Composers, can be heard at, whilst an excerpt from Moon over Downham can be heard at this link.

Our picture shows Christopher Gibbs, the Lord of Bowland and the audience after the lecture.

Bowland Brought to Musical Life

6th October 2015

Lord of Bowland talk

The popular Lord of Bowland annual lecture will be taking on a tuneful theme this year with an exploration of the Forest of Bowland Suite by composer, Christopher Gibbs.

The Forest of Bowland Suite captures in musical form the beauty and mystery of this special place. During the evening Chris will talk about the inspiration for his composition and share recorded excerpts with his audience.

Born in 1938, Chris has been composing since the age of seven. He studied at Trinity College of Music and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and has taught music for many years, including lecturing at the University of Birmingham.

An excerpt from Moon over Downham, the fifth movement of Chris's orchestral suite, can be heard by clicking this link (taken from the Lakeland Composers website

This year's lecture will take place in the wonderful surroundings of Browsholme Hall's Tithe Barn on the evening of Tuesday 6th October.  The event is free but donations towards Slaidburn Village Archive are welcome on the night.

Please book your place in advance by contacting either:

Slaidburn Archive, 25, Church Street, Slaidburn BB7 3ER, 01200 446161 (open Wed & Fri, 11.00am/3.00pm), or

The Forest of Bowland AONB, Kettledrum, Root Hill Estate Yard, Dunsop Bridge, BB7 3AY, 01200 448000,

An Outstanding Week in September!

9th September 2015

Image by Jon HicklingSeptember has always been an outstanding month in our countryside with harvests being brought safely home, trees and meadows taking on their autumnal colours, skies offering a full palette of hues, musky bonfires lingering in the evening air and a more general welcoming calmness for visitors.

September this year, however, promises to be even more outstanding!

The UK’s AONB Family has come together to organise a week (and a bit) long programme of events to help people enjoy and be inspired by the UK’s Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs). Starting on Saturday 19th September and continuing through to Sunday 27th September, the events can be found on

Two events in Bowland are running as part of Outstanding week, and further information can be found by following the links:

As NAAONB’s Jill Smith, explains:

Image by Robert Ince“Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty are some of the most beautiful and cherished landscapes in the UK. They are vibrant landscapes which offer a wealth of opportunities for everyone to enjoy them. They are Landscapes for Life in so many different ways.

“Outstanding Week is an opportunity for you to get involved and get out into our AONBs’ outstanding landscapes to enjoy country shows, dark sky discovery nights, walking festivals, archaeology walks, wood fairs, foraging and local food festivals, wildlife walks, coastal and marine days, thatching courses, drystone walling competitions, charcoal making, bioblitz, inspiration through art and music and many, many other activities.

Events are being organised throughout the country so please join us for an Outstanding Week!”

See Twitter with #outstandingweek and @naaonb & @aonbfamily for new events to enjoy each day.

Visit, enjoy and be inspired by Britain’s Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty

Tour of Britain Stage 2

7th September 2015

The Tour of Britain is coming to Bowland, the Ribble Valley and Pendle - Monday 7th September

Stage Two will begin in Clitheroe town centre, completing a clockwise route via Nick O’Pendle, Longride, Dunsop Bridge and Slaidburn in the Forest of Bowland AONB.

After Gisburn the route heads into Pendle via Barnoldswick and Earby before briefly returning to Clitheroe in the Ribble Valley and then on to Whalley, Nelson and the finish in Colne.

Further details of the route, including Ordnance Survey stage maps can be viewed on the Tour of Britain website.

Summer Craft Sunday

23rd August 2015

Lino cut by Anita BurrowsContemporary Art & Craft Fair at Scorton Village Hall, Factory Brow, Scorton PR3 1AS

Come and see wonderful art and craft created by artists across Lancashire at Summer Craft Sunday, a free event at Scorton Village Hall. Around 18 artists will be showing and selling their work at the fair and there will be a pop –up vintage tearoom to enjoy some lovely homemade tea and cake. Summer Craft Sunday will be showcasing work including beautiful upcycled furniture, ceramics, handpainted lampshades, textiles, jewellery, printmaking and painting. Admission is free and this is a great opportunity to meet the artists, see a range of art and craft made by talented Lancashire artists, makers and designers and maybe buy a special artwork for your home or as a gift.

For more details visit our website or get in touch at .

Get set for school holiday fun in Bowland

15th July 2015

Spring Wood near Whalley will be hosting a conservation day in the woodland on Wednesday 5th August where volunteers can tackle tasks with saws and loppers.  You can find out more from the ranger by calling 01254 825187 or by emailing

Beacon Fell Country Park has a great line-up throughout the summer break and with a café on site, and plenty of space for picnicking, it's the perfect place to make a day of it.

Ear Cutters, Aderbolts and Horse Stingers – otherwise known as dragonflies and damselflies! – are in the spotlight on Saturday 25th July, whilst budding wildlife enthusiasts can have a go at pond dipping on Wednesday 5th August and minibeast hunting a week later. Other adventurous mid-week August activities include shelter building on the 19th and Camocraft on the 26th.  Places can be booked by via Eventbright or by phoning 0300 123 6780.

To round off their summer programme the country park will hold a green woodcraft day from 11am – 4pm on Sunday 6th September with demonstrations, bird box making and children's activities.  No booking necessary.

Bugs and beasties will also be getting a closer look with the Wyre rangers on Wednesday 5th August at Brock Valley Picnic Site. More information is available from the Visit Garstang Centre on 01995 602125 or by emailing

Details of other Festival Bowland events can be found at

So Much More Than The View!

17th June 2015

New publication: ‘So much more than the view…’
England’s most iconic landscapes – a hidden economic powerhouse

Far from being sleepy backwaters, England’s finest landscapes, National Parks and AONBs, contribute more than £20bn each year to our economy – similar to that of Birmingham.

The publication ‘So much more than the view…’ also highlights the wide range of other benefits these iconic areas provide to society

See the publication at:

Covering a quarter of England, AONBs and National Parks are our most beautiful and cherished landscapes, with iconic archaeological and historical sites and valuable wildlife habitats. Yet they provide so much more to society than a beautiful view.
More than two thirds of people in England live within half an hour’s travel of an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty or National Park.
AONBs and National Parks welcome more than 260 million visitors who spend in excess of £6bn and support thousands of jobs and more than 85,000 businesses.
Rightly regarded as a treasured national resource and internationally recognised for their special qualities, they provide a base for businesses that rely on a high quality environment; creative and sporting inspiration; homes for wildlife and people; food and drink; and life enhancing experiences for millions of visitors of all ages.

Environment Minister Rory Stewart said:

Our British landscapes are among the most beautiful and precious in the world. And such land remains central to the British imagination, to our souls and to our identity.  We would miss such landscapes profoundly if they were gone. We have a deep obligation to protect this land, its farms and its communities. This report also reminds us that safeguarding our countryside can also generate economic value, how our protected landscapes are increasingly rare in a rapidly developing world and just how precious they are to visitors and residents. However, while we celebrate the fact that they have also to potential to bring prosperity, we must never reduce such places simply to their economic value – they are so much more than that.”

Chair of the National Association for AONBs, Philip Hygate said:
“AONB Partnerships and Conservation Boards, and National Park Authorities, with their dedicated small teams, make things happen; translating vision and national policy into local action. “Our staff and volunteers work with local communities, businesses and others, supporting skills development, investing in infrastructure and attracting visitors to promote sustainable rural economies that conserve and enhance the natural environment for the benefit of everyone. Together our volunteers put in over half a million days’ work each year to help keep these places special and accessible.”
Chair of National Parks England and the North York Moors National Park Authority, Jim Bailey said:
“People are passionate about National Parks and AONBs and care deeply about their future. Those who visit, live or work within, these special landscapes, experience and enjoy the range of benefits that they provide for people and wildlife. They may not realise that these dynamic, living landscapes underpin the economy and the health and wellbeing of society and that all these benefits come at less than £1 per person a year.”

For further information contact:

Amanda Brace                                                              Jill Smith
Senior Policy Officer                                                    Communications Manager
National Parks England                                                National Association for AONBs

Telephone: 07969 888823
Twitter: @naaonb @natparksengland

Festival Bowland 2015

29th May 2015

Spoon CarvingSomething for Everyone this Summer

Wrap up warm for an evening bat walk in Clitheroe's Brungerly Park on 5th June with Lancashire Wildlife Trust. Learn some traditional woodworking techniques with the Wyre countryside rangers at Cobble Hey on 14th June – and go home with your very own rustic stool!  Get stuck in to some practical work at Brock valley picnic site on the 23rd June or take a Moorland Safari with the RSPB on the 3rd July – the last one for this season.

Discover Claughton Hall estate on the morning of 12th July then head off over to Beacon Fell in the afternoon for a family-friendly summer activity day. Find out more about New Laundin the Hodder valley with a guided tour around Uclan's archaeological dig on July 18th or a farm Tramper trek on either August 3rd or 4th.

Roll up your sleeves at Spring Wood near Whalley on 5th August and help to look after this popular picnic site, or why not walk "From the Mills to the Reservoir" in lovely Calder Vale on the 22nd?  Finish the summer off in style by carving your very own wooden spoon at Beacon Fell Country Park on the 30th August, then sit back and have a well-earned rest – until it's time to start on the autumn events!

For full details, and booking information, of all the Festival Bowland events coming up over the next few months go to

Download the printed verion of the guide