With its sweeping moorland and wild open spaces, the Forest of Bowland was once described as “the Switzerland of England” and also “England’s answer to Tuscany”. Whilst it may not boast the same climate as central Italy or be as vast and untouched as much of Switzerland, it has been deemed an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty since 1964. Sitting pretty on the western spur of the Pennines, the forest makes up the left shoulder of Lancashire, overspilling into North Yorkshire. As well as stunning scenery, the forest offers lots to do for visitors young and old, and is only a stone’s throw away from our very own Ribble Valley Country and Leisure Park.
WALK THE FOREST
Arguably the most famous hike in the Forest of Bowland is the climb up Pendle Hill, which offers dramatic views over Ribble Valley. Why not set yourself a challenge this National Walking Month? Drive to the pretty village of Barley, which has a large car park, picnic area and information centre. From here you can obtain a guide to help you navigate the five-mile circular walk, which takes in the peak of Pendle Hill (577 metres). Once you’ve conquered the summit, you’ll be rewarded with some breath-taking 360-degree views!
CYCLE THE FOREST
If you’d like to explore the Forest of Bowland on two wheels, you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to cycle routes. The Way of the Roses coast-to-coast path cuts through Bowland. One option would be to take the Millennium Cycleway along the River Lune from Lancaster to Caton. From there the route takes you over the river at the stunning Crook o Lune and upstream to Gressingham. Charming country roads then lead you onto the beautiful villages of Hornby and Wray, where you can stop off for some well-earned refreshments.
ADVENTURES IN THE FOREST
If you like a challenge, perhaps you can spot one of the many rare birds that have been sighted in the Forest of Bowland, including Ring Ouzels, Golden Plover and Snipe. The area is also well known for its delicious local produce and there are 18 different producers of cheese in the region, alone! There are many unique villages steeped in history waiting for you to explore, including Hornby with its 13th century castle. Another option is to seek out the best viewpoints, including the one enjoyed from Beacon Fell Country Park. From here, on a clear day, you can see as far as Blackpool and Morecambe Bay.
• A third of the Forest of Bowland is made up of wild open spaces of moorland.
• The area is called a “forest” because of ancient hunting rights, not because it has a high volume of trees.
• Four rivers pass through the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty including the Brennand and Whitendale.
• The Forest of Bowland encompasses 803 square kilometres of land, a tenth of which sits in North Yorkshire and the remainder in Lancashire.
• There are just 16,000 inhabitants that call the area home and it’s estimated that they are joined by around 4 million tourists each year.
So now you know all the wonderful things the Forest of Bowland has to offer, it's time to explore the rolling hills and stunning view points!