*I'm sorry it's been a while since my last posting here and I promise to catch up as soon as I get my diary back... you see I left it at Forrest Hills yesterday where the AONB was celebrating yet another birthday - the years roll on and one birthday merges into another, you know how it is? In the meantime I thought I'd re-run the coverage of a previous birthday.
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