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The Forest of Bowland is a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), also known as the Bowland Fells and formerly the Chase of Bowland, in North West England.  It is a low-populated area covering 312 square miles (803km2) of often bleak, peat moorland, fells and deep valleys, surrounded by softer, attractive, countryside and small settlements.  Principal rivers include the Ribble and the Hodder; to the west is the Lune Valley; to the North are the Yorkshire Dales.  Though mostly in Lancashire, a small part of the Forest of Bowland is in North Yorkshire.  Its cultural roots lie in the long past, but the term ‘forest’ in the sense of a designated royal hunting area, rather than a large area of woodland (most of the trees were cleared during the Bronze Age), stems from the medieval period.

Managing the land for hunting, primarily grouse shooting, is still a major influence on the landscape, and several large private landowners remain.  It is also an area for walkers and cyclists.

Pendle Hill is part of Bowland, separated from the main part by the Ribble Valley.  The highest point in the Forest of Bowland is Ward’s Stone at 1841 feet (561 metres) and one its many features is the Trough of Bowland, a high moorland pass through which the Pendle Witches travelled in 1612, bound for unjust trial and execution in Lancaster. Bowland is associated with witchcraft – possibly for tourism reasons – even today.  The area includes many listed stone buildings, with characteristic mullions and lintels, as well as attractive villages like Hurst Green, Dunsop Bridge, Downham, Slaidburn and Waddington.  So called ‘gateway towns’ include Bentham in the north and Clitheroe in the south – the latter being arbitrarily selected for location purposes in this instance.

There is a Bowland cheese, a type of Lancashire cheese, mixed with apple, sultana and cinnamon.

Post Code
Main Historic Period
Useful Website Address
Lancaster, Blackburn, Yorkshire Dales
Primary Management
Local Authority

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