Forest of Bowland

The Forest of Bowland is a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty covering 312 square miles in the north of Lancashire and part of North Yorkshire, north-west of Clitheroe and south-west of Settle. The main villages in Bowland include Chipping, Slaidburn, and Dunsop Bridge.


The Forest of Bowland is a nationally protected landscape and internationally important for its heather moorland, blanket bog and rare birds. The 'Forest' refers to its ancient status as a hunting park rather than a wooded terrain.


Bowland today is remarkably unchanged since the late medieval period. Across the area there are many fine examples of the stone buildings that were built to replace timber houses between the 16th and 18th centuries, with their characteristic stone mullions, lintels and datestones. There are also sites that survive as isolated reminders of the medieval heritage of the Forest of Bowland, for example the Cistercian monastery at Sawley.


Bowland is upland country which forms part of the Pennines, and shares many of the characteristics of other upland areas like the Peak District and the Yorkshire Dales. The area is dominated by a central upland core of deeply incised gritstone fells with summits above 450m and vast tracts of heather-covered peat moorland.

The fells’ fringe of foothills is dissected by steep-sided valleys which open out into the rich green lowlands of the Ribble, Hodder, Wyre and Lune Valleys. Well-wooded and dotted with picturesque stone farms and villages, these lower slopes, criss-crossed by drystone walls, contrast with and complement the dramatic open sweep of the gritstone heights. On its south-eastern edge lies Pendle Hill.

Flora and fauna

The heather moorlands of the fells are exceptionally important as a habitat for upland birds and have been designated as a Special Protection Area (SPA) under the European Birds Directive in recognition of this.

The Bowland Hen Harrier Project is centred on the Bowland Visitor Centre, Beacon Fell. Continuous footage of a Hen Harrier nest in the Bowland Fells can be viewed seven days a week at the Visitor Centre on Beacon Fell Country Park near Preston.

Get in

Get around

In 2004 parts of Bowland became open to walkers for the first time as a change in the law gave general right of access to the public to ‘Access Land’ for the purposes of open-air recreation on foot. The Forest of Bowland now offers great walking through some of the most beautiful and remote areas of the country.


Slaidburn is a picturesque grey stone village set on the banks of the Hodder. The 10th century ‘Angel Stone’ carving can be seen at Slaidburn Heritage Centre. The centre provides tourist information and houses displays, artifacts and an audio-visual presentation about the village’s heritage and the Forest of Bowland.

Dunsop Bridge has been declared by the Ordnance Survey 'the official centre of the British Isles'.




The Inn at Whitewell (see above) serves good, organic beers and ciders, and contains its own vintner.


The Inn at Whitewell (see above). Has 23 bedrooms, 14 with open fires.

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