Bowland Knotts after a heavy rain shower. The Knotts lie on the road between Slaidburn and Bentham. SD726606.

Bowland Knotts [more...]

Ashendean Clough on Pendle Hill, north of the Nick of Pendle. SD768396.

Ashendean Clough [more...]

Worsaw End House and Pendle Hill. The view of Pendle from the Downham estate contrasts the pasture and the unimproved fell. SD778430.

Downham estate [more...]

AONB official links

Bowland AONB website

Martin's Bowland Blog

Management Plan, 2009-2014


Camera location

The letters and numbers at the end of each photograph caption is the British National Grid reference of the camera location.


My other work

New Forest - History & Photographs

Monochrome photographs of the Pennines, New Forest and Dorset

Forest of Bowland photographs

The photographs

This website presents colour photographs of the Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). To put the photographs into context, brief introductions to the characteristic landforms, history and environment are offered.

Why is the Forest of Bowland special?

The Forest of Bowland AONB is principally in the county of Lancashire, with a small area in Yorkshire. The name Bowland (historically "Bolland") is interpreted as "the land by the bend" of a river, probably the Hodder. On the uplands it is a landscape of heather moorland, peat, acid grassland and blanket bog, with exposed millstone grit outcrops. The fells have smooth, rounded outlines arising from glacial action.

Wolfhole Crag
Towards Wolfhole Crag.

The lowlands are characterised by: earlier landscape management as former Royal Forests; stone built farms and villages; woodland; pastoral scenery; river valleys. The principal rivers are the Ribble, Hodder, Wyre and Lune. The transition from fells to valleys is noted for wooded cloughs (stream-eroded steep, narrow valleys).

The highest point is Ward's Stone (561 m). Stocks Reservoir and Gisburn Forest are popular recreational areas within the Forest. The Forest of Bowland is divided by the valley of the River Ribble, separating Pendle Hill from the main Bowland fells. Pendle Hill has associations with the Quaker movement - George Fox undertook an enlightening climb of Pendle in 1652. It has also had historical associations with witchcraft. Bowland largely escaped the industrialisation prevalent in the valleys and moorland fringes of Lancashire and Yorkshire in the late 18th and the 19th centuries.

Thirteen percent of Bowland is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). It is nationally and internationally recognised as unspoiled, and diverse in landscape and wildlife. Bowland is an important habitat for the breeding of rare upland birds such as the Hen Harrier, Peregrine and the Ring Ouzel.

Hodder Valley near Dunsop Bridge.


Historically, access to some of the fells was limited by the landowners in order to manage Red Grouse, but the Open Access legislation (Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000) provided the opportunity from September 2004 to explore these formerly closed areas. The views are outstanding from the fell tops of Bowland, encompassing the Lancashire coast, the Lake District, the West Pennine Moors and the Three Peaks of the Yorkshire Dales.

It can be very wet underfoot on the high fells, and in the valley bottoms. The pleasure of Bowland and the Ribble Valley is the diversity of the landscape, the cloughs with fast flowing streams, the rocky outcrops emerging from the bog, peat and heather, the views, the solitude and the ubiquitous 310,000 sheep that inhabit the place.

“People who slog for miles over cushions of nardus grass, through peat and bog, descending and climbing out of interminable gills, and being soaked by rain see the real Bowland and creatures of wild places...”
WR Mitchell.

Sustainable tourism

Bowland was the first protected area in the UK to be awarded the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism in Protected Areas. Economic development in support of tourism is tempered by the requirement to maintain the historical and environmental character of this special place, for future generations.