AONB Family's Week

13th September 2018

Outstanding Week is the AONB Family’s week (and a bit) long programme of events to help people reconnect with nature by enjoying and being inspired by the UK’s Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs). This year it takes place from Saturday 15th – Sunday 23rd September.

AONBs are some of the UK’s most beautiful, cherished and outstanding landscapes. They are vibrant landscapes where people live and work and consequently offer a wealth of opportunities for everyone to enjoy them.

Outstanding Week is an opportunity for you to get out and benefit from everything AONBs have to offer – local food and drink, walking festivals, dark sky discovery nights, country shows, archaeology walks, wood fairs, foraging, wildlife walks, coastal and marine days, thatching courses, drystone walling competitions, charcoal making, bioblitz, inspiration through art and drama and many, many other activities.

Join us out in the country to discover why September is such an Outstanding month and have a look at the events as part of Festival Bowland.

See @naaonb @AONBFamily #OutstandingWeek for details.

Bowland Heads Back to the Stone Age

12th September 2018

This year’s Lord of Bowland Lecture, the 8th since 2010, will take place on the evening of Monday 8 October in the wonderful surroundings of Browsholme Hall's Tithe Barn.

Dr Rick Peterson, Senior Lecturer in Archaeology at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan), will take Bowlanders back to the Stone Age, with a lecture on the Prehistory of Bowland.

Each year, between 2011 and 2015, staff and students from UCLan left the campus behind and headed to the hills above Whitewell for their summer fieldwork project. A combination of field surveys, excavations and research during that time uncovered evidence of nomadic hunter-gatherers and early farmers in the Stone Age, along with Bronze Age burial sites and Iron Age settlements.

Read Mark Sutcliffe's article, Step Back in Time, in this year's Discover Bowland guide for more detail.

Rick's lecture will explain how this fieldwork, and subsequent studies, have helped to expand understanding of Bowland's prehistory.

The event is free to attend but places need to be booked in advance by contacting the Forest of Bowland AONB on 01200 448000 or by emailing or  The lecture starts at 7.30pm with a pay bar available from 7.00pm.

Donations are invited on the evening and will go to Slaidburn Archive to support its important work in recording the history of the Forest and to Champion Bowland, which supports projects benefiting the environment, local communities and visitors.

The Forest of Bowland AONB is grateful to the Parker family for hosting this event at Browsholme Hall.

Bowland by Night

3rd September 2018

The Forest of Bowland is fantastic by day but as the sun sinks down, there's still plenty to explore with Festival Bowland.

Garstang Bat Walk

Friday 21st September, 7.30pm – 9.30pm


Tales for a Dark Forest Night (Last few places remaining!)

Saturday 22nd September, 7.30pm – 9pm

Gisburn Forest Hub

Hodder Valley Bat Walk

Friday 28th September, 7pm – 9pm


Dusk to Dark

Saturday 29th September, 7.30pm – 9pm

Gisburn Forest

For full details go to

River Life Together Photo competition: River Wildlife

22nd August 2018

Submit your photos of river-related wildlife from within the Ribble Catchment, and you could be in with the chance of winning a fantastic prize!

This competition is open to amateur photographers resident in the UK. You can submit as many entries as you like.

Closing date for all entries is 9th September 2018 at 23:59 pm, and the winner will be announced by 5th October 2018.

Visit the Ribble Life Together Website to upload your photographs now!

Questionnaire: The public's perceptions of natural beauty in the Forest of Bowland

Black Hill Wood, Sabden
25th July 2018

Lorraine Richen-Stones is an MSc student at Lancaster and has been working on her dissertation with the AONB team. She would like your help with her project, and says:

I would like to invite people who visit, live or work in the Forest of Bowland to take part in a research study which is considering opportunities and constraints for woodland creation in the Forest of Bowland.  Starting with a questionnaire to understand the public's perceptions of natural beauty and if new woodland were planted what woodland scenes the public would visually prefer to see in the Forest of Bowland. It consists of 9 key questions some with pictures to view and choose, and will take about 5 - 9 minutes to complete see weblink:

As a student of Lancaster University studying an MSc in Conservation and Biodiversity my dissertation placement is with Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). The focus is to understand ‘how in supporting biodiversity do differing perceptions of beauty, human and economic values, influence decisions when stakeholders prioritise projects?’ as the research question I am seeking to answer for Elliott Lorimer, AONB Principal Officer. We are therefore inviting people, and partners who have an interest in the Forest of Bowland (AONB) to get involved in the study. A research participant information leaflet has been produced to explain more about what the study entails to enable you to decide if you wish to take part by completing the questionnaire.

If you would like to know more about the research study or have any questions, please feel free to contact: Lorraine Ritchen-Stones 

Tel: 01200 448000 or Email:

Meadow Magic

18th June 2018

Hay meadows are one of our rarest habitats and a priority for conservation. Largely lost from the rest of the country, these meadows survive thanks to traditional farming practices, in particular the late cutting of the crop in July or August.

During spring and summer the array of colourful flowers and grasses in hay meadows not only make a wonderful sight but create important places for pollinators and other species, such as bats and birds, which feed and nest in them.

The Forest of Bowland has some of the best hay meadows in Lancashire and as such, the AONB is an important area for this stunning habitat.  However, Bowland's species rich meadows are only a very small resource and have, therefore, been a focus for conservation and restoration since 2012.

To celebrate this special habitat, Festival Bowland 2018 is highlighting a series of events which have hay meadows as their inspiration!

Make your way to Be a Garden Maker in Wigglesworth on Saturday 30th June when Chris Moss will be demonstrating wire sculpting techniques and participants can sculpt their very own flowers to take home.

Join Wyre Coast and Countryside Service on Sunday 1st July for a meadow wildlife walk in lovely Over Wyresdale.

Celebrate National Meadow Day at Bell Sykes Farm in Slaidburn on Saturday 7th July where you can enjoy fields of flowers, traditional crafts, scything demonstrations and more.

Bring out your creative side with artist, Annie Coxey, on Sunday 8th July in Abbeystead as you make colourful flowers, gorgeous garlands and beautiful butterflies from felt.

Finally, Saturday 14th July offers a great chance to see the flowers at Salthill Quarry Nature Reserve on a walk with former Lancashire Wildlife Trust Reserves Manager, Phil Dykes.

For more information, and booking details, see or email

Hen harriers breed in Bowland

7th June 2018

Rare hen harrier chicks have hatched in Bowland for the first time since 2015.

RSPB wardens discovered two hen harrier nests on the United Utilities Bowland Estate in early spring and have been monitoring them closely ever since. The nests were visited recently by the wardens under licence who were delighted to find four healthy chicks in each of them.

A single male hen harrier is responsible for both of the nests and he is currently taking food regularly to them.

Hen harriers are much-loved birds of prey that nest on hills and moors and are famed for the male’s spectacular aerobatic courtship ritual known as skydancing. However, they are on the verge of extinction as a breeding bird in England owing to ongoing illegal persecution associated with driven grouse shooting. Although experts estimate there is sufficient habitat in Northern England for at least 300 pairs, last year there were only three successful nests in the whole country.

Bowland used to be known as England’s last remaining stronghold for breeding hen harriers. But, until this year, hen harriers hadn’t bred successfully there since 2015 when a single chick fledged.

Nature conservationists now hope that the arrival of the chicks may mark a reversal in the fortunes for the hen harrier in Bowland. The RSPB is working in partnership with United Utilities and their tenants to give hen harriers the best chance to breed successfully.

James Bray, the RSPB’s Bowland Project Officer, said: “It is fantastic news that hen harriers are breeding once again on the United Utilities Bowland Estate after two barren years. It’s an incredibly nerve-wracking time for all involved in protecting these birds, especially for the team that have been constantly monitoring the birds since they arrived on the estate in April. The male hen harrier is doing a fantastic job of keeping the chicks in both nests well fed and we’re doing all that we can to ensure that they fledge safely.”

County Councillor Albert Atkinson, Chairman for the Forest of Bowland AONB Joint Advisory Committee, said: "It is very heartening to hear that hen harriers are once again back in the Forest of Bowland and nesting on United Utilities estate.  As a Partnership, we are working hard to ensure this iconic bird of Bowland has the best chance of re-establishing as a breeding species in the area."

Landscapes for Life Conference 2018

29th May 2018

Online registration now open.

Booking closing dates: Early Bird 21st June 2018 - Final Closing date 29th June 2018

With a theme of Shaping the Long View, we are expecting informed, enthused and energised delegate participation at Landscapes for Life Conference 2018 for our plenary sessions, site visits, briefings, and social events.

Both the UK and the Welsh Governments have recently indicated their commitment to Protected Landscapes. Recognising this commitment, the NAAONB proposes that demonstrating and measuring the benefits of landscape management will be of crucial importance in the years ahead, and we are committed to widening discussion and debate around this issue.

We will be looking at how the work of the AONB Family network achieves clean air, clean and plentiful water, and thriving plants and wildlife. We will also investigate how we can help to reduce the risk of harm to people, the environment and the economy by using our natural resources in a more sustainable and efficient way. Our ultimate aim is to ensure that the natural beauty of AONBs is valued and secured and we will explore how reconnecting people with nature can enhance the beauty and heritage our natural environment for future generations.

The NAAONB is running Landscapes for Life Conference 2018 in association with the Kent Downs AONB Partnership who will be hosting the site visits.

#L4L2018 will be an excellent opportunity to network with fellow landscape professionals from across the UK. Be sure to save the date – you can book a place online now.

For sponsorship and exhibitor opportunities please contact the Conference Manager, Jill Smith on

June is Blooming!

15th May 2018

Pop out for an evening Legstretcher from Scorton picnic site on 1st June or opt for an orchid walk around Lancashire Wildlife Trust's Cross Hill Quarry Nature Reserve in Clitheroe on Sunday 3rd.

Head back to Scorton on Thursday 7th when Wyre Countryside Service attempt to go where you never dreamed possible - on a Tramper Trek over Nicky Nook Fell.  (Fingers crossed for good weather.) Walkers welcome too!

For bird lovers, the RSPB will be leading a moorland walk on Saturday 16th and keeping an eye out for upland species including ring ouzel, merlin and England's rarest bird of prey – the hen harrier. On the same day, history buffs can explore Stephen Park and surrounds and hear all about Sir Stephen Hammerton and the Pilgrimage of Grace.

Clearbeck House in Tatham will be opening its 4 acre garden for charity once again this year. If you missed the May dates you can catch it on 24th June (and then again on the 1st July).

Also in Tatham, Maiden Bridge Art Centre's summer exhibition will be in full swing on weekends throughout June and July.

For more information about all Festival Bowland events, including booking details where needed, see

Don't Miss Bowland's Spring Wildlife Events!

4th April 2018

Whilst the weather might not have made up its mind completely yet, there's a definite feeling of spring in the air, so what better time to go on the lookout for Bowland's wildlife highlights?

Why not join the RSPB for the first moorland walk of the season on Saturday14th April from Slaidburn and see how many upland birds you can spot? If you can't make that date there will be another chance on the 28th.

Wyre Coast and Countryside Service will be heading off on a Tramper Trek from Claughton looking for lapwings and hares on the morning of the 21st and walkers too are very welcome.  If you have a pair of binoculars make sure you pack them.

Also on the 21st, this time in the afternoon, is a ramble by the River Hodder in Newton – a great spot to look for wildflowers, birds and insects.

Back over to Wyre for an evening whimbrel watch on Wednesday 25th to catch a sight of these beautiful birds as they come in to roost and then a Sunday morning walk to search for snipes and hares around Bleasdale on the 29th.

Saturday 5th May has a choice of two events: a springtime wander around Garstang and Barnacre in the morning, or a journey into the Langden valley looking for the beautiful Green Hairstreak butterfly and amazing Emperor moth in the afternoon.

We'll be celebrating International Dawn Chorus Day on Sunday 6th May with an early start in Whitendale followed by a well-earned hot breakfast at the café in Dunsop Bridge.  If 5.30am is a little too early then a springtime walk around Nicky Nook near Scorton from 10am might just do the trick. Enthusiasts might even be able to make the first of this year's bluebell tea walks over in Calder Vale that afternoon as well!

Full event information and booking details are available on the Forest of Bowland AONB website at