The Forest of Bowland Area Guide
The Forest of Bowland (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty)lies at the heart of rural Lancashire and covers an area of 312sq miles. The area offers plenty of opportunity for quiet enjoyment such as walking, cycling, fishing and horse riding, and with newly opened Access Land, can now offer some of the most remote and rugged walking in the North West.
Escape the crowds of the Lake District and visit this wonderfully diverse area. From picture postcard villages to the stark splendour of the open moorland, there is a different landscape waiting to be discovered around every corner.
The Forest of Bowland AONB is not actually a forest but a large open area of moorland, farmland and woodland which offers excellent walking, cycling, horse riding and fishing or for the less energetic delightful country pubs to savour the fine local produce for which the area is justifiably reknown.
Travelling to the Forest of Bowland
By car: The area is easily accessed from the M6 linked to all the motorway networks
By train: Clitheroe is the main station for the Forest of Bowland. Alternatively the area can be accessed from Preston, Lancaster, Blackburn and Burnley. For details on train journeys and connections visit National Rail enquiries.
By coach or bus: For details of coach travel to the area click Transport Direct
By air: The nearest major airport is Manchester, Liverpool and Blackpool are also within reach and give easy access.
Where to Stay
The Forest of Bowland offers a wide range of accommodation, from camping barns, B&Bs, Hotels, Country Inns and Farmhouse accommodation to 5 Star Self Catering Cottages. For accommodation in and around the Forest of Bowland visit our accommodation listings page HERE
For cyclists, walkers and horse riders there are extensive cycle trails, footpaths and bridleways for all levels. For details and to download maps visit Forest of Bowland walking, riding and cycling.
For those who prefer a more gentle pace, there are plenty of opportunities to fish in several locations.
Bird watchers are not disappointed either with birds such as the rare hen harrier, merlin and ring ouzels, as well as many other species found in the beautiful hills and valleys.
Many of these activities can be enjoyed by the less able with the hire of a Tramper, a specially designed four wheel drive all-terrain electric buggy which can be used off road and even on rough ground, mud and grass. It enables people who have difficulty walking to experience the countryside, woodlands and lakesides; and to accompany their friends and families when out walking.
They are available for hire from Beacon Fell Country Park, the Wyre Estuary Country Park ,Witton Country Park in Blackburn and Wycoller Country Park.
At all these parks you will need to book ahead as numbers are limited. Full training is given if required.
To book your tramper telephone;
Wyre Estuary Country Park
Beacon Fell Country Park
Witton Country Park
Villages of The Forest of Bowland
Each of the many villages of The Forest of Bowland has its own individual charm. Some of the more popular are:
Barley - the most popular starting point to climb Pendle Hill. There is a large car park, information point, picnic area, pub and cafe.
Bolton in Bowland is charming with 2 village greens, the smaller of which contains the remains of a 13th Century stone cross and old stocks.
Chipping is a picturesque village located on the banks of the River Loud. It is a conservation area and home to a cheese maker, a chair factory and a craft centre. There are several inns around the village centre.
Downham is situated at the bottom of Pendle Hill and is one of the prettiest villages in Lancashire with a gurgling brook running past the village green and stone-built cottages. The village was used as a location for the famous film ‘Whistle Down the Wind’ and more recently the popular BBC drama ‘Born and Bred’ was filmed here.
Dunsop Bridge is the entrance to the Trough of Bowland. There is a small tea shop by the river, along with resident ducks. Ordanance Survey have declared Dunsop Bridge the unofficial centre of the British Isles, verified by a small plaque unveiled by Sir Randolph Fiennes.
Hurst Green is an idyllic village situated in the heart of the Ribble Valley and is reputed to be haunted by highwayman Ned King, who's ghost has reputedly been seen riding through the village at night. The famous Tolkien Trail that explores the surrounding countryside starts here and is named after J R R tolkien who regularly stayed here.
Newton in Bowland lies in the valley between Dunsop Bridge and Slaidburn and is reached by a spectacular journey over Waddington Fell. The Parkers Arms provides good home cooked food.
Roughlee was Lancashire's best kept small village in 2006 and champion village in 2007 and is probably best known for its proximity to Pendle Hill and the famous Pendle Witches Story. It is located 6 miles north of Burnley and despite a population of less than 300 is a vibrant village with a riverside setting and waterfalls of Pendle water.
Slaidburn is set on the banks of the River Hodder and has a village shop, pub and small youth hostel in the centre of the village. There is a small heritage centre providing tourist information.
Waddington lies just outside Clitheroe and has won Lancashire's best kept village on many occasions, with its babbling stream and Coronation Gardens running through the village its the perfect spot to while away a sunny afternoon.
Travelling in the Forest of Bowland
Several areas within the Forest of Bowland are remote and isolated and best explored on foot, by cycle or on horse back. There is a regular bus service from Clitheroe to the Hodder Valley villages of Newton, Slaidburn, Dunsop Bridge, and Whitewell. The linking B1 runs a shuttle service between Slaidburn and Settle.
On Summer Sundays the Pendle Witch Hopper runs a circuit around Pendle Hill, and on weekdays it links Nelson with Clitheroe via Newchurch, Barley and Downham.
The Bowland Visitor Centre is located in Beacon Fell Country Park in the Forest of Bowland (AONB).
For further information telephone: 01995 640557.
Last Updated: 28 Apr 2015