The area of oustanding natural beauty spans from the picturesque village of Hornby on the way to Ribblesdale in the North, down to Roughlee in the South East of Lancashire not far from the urbanisation of Nelson. The major appeal of this area of outstanding natural beauty is the timelessness of the villages that constitute it. The villages of Downham and Barley are simply exquisite and are nationally famous for being well kept – in Downham’s case this extends to the absence of television and radio antennae on all of the houses, they are not allowed!
The lanscape of The Forest of Bowland is one of harsh gritstone and peat – a lot of peat, if your aim is to walk the Bowland Fells; unless it’s mid-summer in the midst of an heatwave – your’re not going on home without at least a liberal coating of northern mud on the soles of your walking boots!
A lot of the fells of The Forest of Bowland can be paradise for the walker whom seeks to escape the crowds, places such as Grit Fell and Ward’s Stone being fells that test the spirit of the walker to such an extent with their boggy exposure that few people spend a great deal of time at their respective summits. By way of contrast, Pendle Hill (an out-lying extent of the forest in this author’s opinion) can on a Sunday afternoon be reletively busy – though never bustling and the lovely Beacon Fell country park even has its own café!
The deceptive word when describing this region is that of ‘Forest’. Whilst it’s true that there are some areas of forest throughout the region, ‘Forest’ here is used in its older sense to mean ‘estate’, therefore the times when you will be surrounded by trees whenever you go walking in the area will be few and far between!