Martin’s blog will cover things that have been happening in Bowland that may have been missed by the national or local press.
Suggestions and comments are always welcome from locals and visitors alike.
The views and opinions expressed in Martin’s blog are personal and do not represent those of the Forest of Bowland, Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Lancashire County Council or any other partner in the Forest of Bowland Joint Advisory Committee. They are generally light hearted in tone and should be treated accordingly.
Martin Charlesworth - volunteer, and former Community Projects Officer for Bowland.
Please send any suggestions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
One of the country's most unspoiled and richly diverse landscapes is celebrating its 40th birthday. When the Forest of Bowland was designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in 1964, history merged with nature and rolling moors with lofty fells to create a district the size of New York. Land stretching 312 square miles took in Pendle Hill, home to the legendary Pendle witches and Dunsop Bridge, the nearest village to the centre of the British Isles. Recognised by Government as having equal landscape value to National Parks, AONBs were designed to protect unspoiled natural beauty for future generations. Around 16,000 people live in the Forest of Bowland and, while its unique character is protected, it has become a location for innovative and exciting projects. Sporting activities flourish alongside wildlife with businesses and communities working together to protect one of the region's finest natural assets. As birthday celebrations loomed, glasses were already being raised to the AONB, courtesy of a beer brewed specially for the event. The area's own Bowland Brewery came up with Hen Harrier, a "real ale", to give the anniversary a boost. A host of celebrations marked the 9 June birthday, including the launch of the Management Plan, the Bowland Festival and the opening of the first phase of the North Lancashire Bridleway.
The AONB's extensive wet and dry heathland (where exactly is this dry heathland?) have made it a Site of Special Scientific Interest.
Although the moors are famous for grouse shooting, the fells have special protection under the European Birds Directive. They are home to the rare hen harrier** and merlin. Bowland's own beer aided 40th birthday celebrations. The photograph shows (from left) countryside officer Dave Oyston, rural policy planner Susan Conway and countryside officer Dave Padley.
**on second thpoughts, make that 'very rare' and I'll have mash instead of the merlin
Ahead of next week’s annual Lord of Bowland lecture at Whitewell, news has reached me of an arrival in his lordship’s household.
Henry of Bowland, heir to the lordship, was born early on the morning of Wednesday 2 October. Styled Master of Bowland, there can be no doubt the little lordling finds himself propelled into a world of Gormenghast-like complexity, creaking with ritual, tradition and dusty precedent. By all accounts, however, he refuses to be intimidated by the heavy burden of Bowland affairs he is destined to bear.
We look forward to receiving an invitation to the young fellow’s “Earling” sometime soon. Surely, a raft on Stocks Reservoir, a stone and an ivy branch dropped in the lake are the very least we might expect – with Bowbearer Robert Parker, Bowland’s answer to Barquentine, graciously presiding as Master of Ceremonies.
It's easy to buy a crunchy Braeburn (from New Zealand) or a perfectly formed and uniformly green Granny Smith (from South Africa) - just pop down to the local supermarket and they will have them waiting for you 12 months of the year. If you want a rough looking beast however with one side red and the other green with warts, scabs and grubs then they are much harder to find...
But beauty is just skin deep as they say and what wonderful flavour you may be missing out on if you only buy from a shop. How about a Ribston Pippin perhaps or a James Grieve or an Egremont Russet from your own tree?
I can remember from when I was a boy trying an apple every day from when they first started turning red and wincing at the sourness until the day came when they are perfect and from then on eating several every day. Eventually you wouldn't be able to find one without wasps or grubs in and that was it then until next year. That was for 'eaters'. 'Cookers' we used to store wrapped in newspaper down in the coal cellar in barrels and use until Christmas. Some stored perfectly and some were brown mush by Christmas!
If you want to meet a couple of apple experts, eat some apple cake, press juice out of some apples, buy jam, chutney and/or fruit jellies, try some cider (and maybe even enjoy a cocktail made with Calvados!) as well as see the Ludus dance company (the flagship youth dance company for the North West) disapperaing (and hopefully returning) through the woods then you must come to the 3rd Bowland Apple Day - which will be held from 11am to 3pm at the Bowland Visitor Centre, Beacon Fell Country Park.
The theory that last year's terrible winter weather has enabled species previously confined to Scandinavian regions to drift into the wilder regions of northern Britain has received more backing with the release of this blurred photo of the so called 'Beast of Bowland', loping out of focus across the Bowland fells. A cross between Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, Bram Stoker's legendary blood sucking bat and Esmeralda's friend from the belfry of Notre Damme perhaps? It is not clear if this beast is singlehandedly responsible for the decline in breeding pairs of hen harriers and/or the loss of bellflowers. Walkers and ramblers are advised to avoid taking their cats for exercise in the more remote areas of Bowland until further notice.
Yesterday was the annual 'Ronde van Vlaanderen' - RVV race in Belgium, one of the hardest one day races in the cycling calendar, filled with brutal climbs on narrow cobbled farm tracks where falls and crashes are the order of the day and only true champions can win. The story goes that if the weather is good the crowd is 1/2 million - if the weather is bad the crowd is a million! This year's race was won by Swiss rider Fabian Cancellara from Slovak Peter Sagan after an epic duel up the last climb where Sagan broke under relentless pressure from Cancellara who went on to win by over a minute.
A bold plan to host a 'Round of Bowland' race in 2 years time would not only enhance the cycling credentials of the area (already boosted by Sir Bradley Wiggins) but also necessitate major improvements to the pitted and rutted tracks that pass for roads around Newton, Slaidburn and through Gisburn Forest. Local residents are hopeful that miles of new cobbles and setts will return these vital routes to a condition last seen in mediaeval times - cutting journey times and speeding progress.
Many hidden benefits will soon begin to flow from this visionary infrastructure project. Laying cobbles is a skill that is nowadays rare so local experts will be fully employed on generous bonuses whilst armies of navvies will be required for unskilled work. They will need food, accommodation and entertainment. Money will flow into local businesses and opportunities will be virtually limitless. A new golden age of commercial opportunity is dawning as the icy fang and churlish chiding of the winter's wind gives way to the fragrance of spring sweetly scenting the air.
Like Howard Carter and George Herbert, 5th Earl of Carnarvon, entering Tutankhamun's tomb by torchlight and discovering untold beauty and riches, I was astonished to find a sign that the long lost Forest of Bowland, Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, had survived largely unscathed from the recent recession as I drove on the old Clitheroe Road from Longridge to Hurst Green last night.
Illuminated in the headlights not 100 yards from the main road, I could see the unmistakable outline of a new boundary sign. Here is a murky photo of this impressive new sign.
Residents of Knowle Green (all 23 of them) woke earlier this week to find the new sign in place just as mysteriously as the old one had vanished.
Opinion in the peoples republic of Knowle Green is divided on whether the new sign is an improvement on the old ones. I am waiting for an official statement from a spokesman (spokeswoman?)
People in Bowland were relieved last week when it was announced by climate expert, Dr Stangelove (deceased), that fracking of shale rock to release toxic gas posed no threat to ground water, the ozone layer or traffic congestion on the A59. In a well researched and wide ranging presentation, Dr Strangelove* put forward the following evidence -
1 Poking and scratching at the earth’s crust is a historic and cultural part of life on planet earth and has been practised by ancient tribes from the Stone Age onwards.
2 Oil is a naturally occuring fluid that can be found on any supermarket shelf (and most garages) and has proven health benefits when taken responsibly (read the label)....and by extension gas also.
3 It is a common misconcetion that beneath our feet lies a random mix of rubble, rock, mud, sand, and discarded fast food containers whereas, in fact, these components are all organised in discrete individually accessible neat layers as shown here -
Don’t know and couldn’t care less
And here is what the scaremongers would have us believe -
4 Solar panels and wind turbines depend on wholly variable and capricious sources of energy - wind and sunshine.
*Dr Srangelove (deceased) has no connection to any fr*cking exploratory company and will sue without hesitation anyone who suggests otherwise.
I've been trying to contact Dave Padley to ask him to grant a wildcard entry to the Bowland Hedgelaying grand prix for Aishat Maksudova , 56, from the village of Novo Biryuzyak in Dagestan. Aishat recently killed a wolf after it attacked her cattle. Maksudova says she was not frightened when the wolf attacked her, biting her arm, and fought it with her bare hands before killing it with an axe. She has never turned her hand to hedge laying before but I think she would give it her best shot and attract a new kind of audience to what could become a cult sport.
Aishat is pictured here in a pose of watchfulness and balance reminiscent of a young Roger Federer - albeith with an axe rather than a tennis racket.
Dr Alan Whitehead (Southampton, Test) (Lab): The Minister will understand that the felling of a large amount of timber may have an effect on the wood services industry and the price of timber.