Martin’s Bowland Blog

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

2 advantages of the Newton village hall launch event for the Friends of Bowland on Fri 19th Oct over Glastonbury 2013
Mon, 8 Oct 2012 2:12pm

It occurs to me that not only will you have a roof over your head but also, and unlike Glastonbury, tickets are still available. 


Floods are always a problem but rarely inside the village hall. A full refund will be given in the event of earthquake, fire and flood. 

Well, James, will you take me to the Friends of Bowland Quiz and hotpot supper on Friday 19th Oct or do I have to shoot you?
Mon, 8 Oct 2012 10:50am

If you're old enough to remember Diana Rigg and George Lazenby then you will also know that Diana is pointing a spud gun at George who  doesn't seem to be making eye contact with either Diana or the gun. His acting was notoriously wooden and if it were a real gun there would be splinters. That's why she's using the spud gun.

If 'Are you going on the 19th Oct?' is the question then what is the answer?
Thu, 4 Oct 2012 2:26pm

I have emailed many many people about the launch event for the Friends of Bowland - to be followed by a Quiz and hotpot supper on Friday 19th Oct 7pm in Newton-in-Bowland village hall. Here's a colourful pdf that I have sent out widely showing several people who are friends - or used to be until I circulated their photographs. The serious, but short, bit of the evening will be to discuss and agree a constitution (see draft) and to elect officers of which we would like the following -

1 Chairman

1 Secretary

1 Treasurer

1 Co-ordinator/organsier

Several Regional organiers

If you are at all interested then please speak to Geoff Morries (01200 446329) or I (01772 784692) or email us by Friday the 12th Oct. 

And last night, although the heavens opened on Slaidburn and Newton, there was a packed audience in the old Courtroom at the Hark to Bounty to hear Chris Spencer explain how English Heritage may have to think again about their listing details of the interesting building which like many in Slaidburn has been added to and altered over time. Further details to follow I hope but just read up on Dendrochronolgy for a start - I'm afraid I had to ask!

Stirrings in the feudal undergrowth
Tue, 18 Sep 2012 3:21pm

Only 2 weeks to go to a momentous event that I should have told you about earlier....

Our feudal friend, William Bowland, has arranged an autumn event in the ancient courtroom at The Hark to Bounty. Manorial courts were held upstairs at the famous hostelry well into the 1920s and for many centuries before that.  Leet Court or Head Court Baron, my lord?  I tremble to think: is our ever inventive grandee really intending to drag before him bemused locals charged with antique offences such deer rustling, cabbage gelding or breach of frankpledge? … What on earth next? Frog-jousting?

Details of the event are here - look for Tuesday 2nd Oct.

My last post on scything and Anna Karenina, needs to be updated. There is a new film version of Anna K starring Keira Knightley (is that why she got the part - because her name begins and ends with K?) but not alas Johnny Depp or Helena Bonham-Carter and not directed by Tim Burton. I hope the scything scenes are scintillating but I fear the worst

Scything with Anna - Sat 28th July
Mon, 16 Jul 2012 3:13pm

One of my favourite books is Anna Karenina. The main story lines are about relationships - some of them stumbling along (Dolly and Stiva), one blossoming after a false start (Kitty and Levin) and the one in the title (Anna and Count Vronsky) igniting with hot passion and ending in tragedy. What I also found absorbing, however, was the contrast between city living (in Moscow and St Petersburg) and the lyrical descriptions of living in the country with long passages spent discussing farming and the differing perspectives of worker and landowner. As Kitty prepares for the birth of their first child, Levin tires of life in the city and throws himself into work on the farm. He is happiest when exhausted from a day's hard work scything the fields with his peasant workers.

The 1997 film of Anna Karenina has a beautifully shot scene of Levin and his peasants scything a field* ending with the womenfolk arriving over the crest of the hill with hay rakes singing the old Russian chant, 'Harvesting the field'. It is wonderful! Watch the movie and weep!

If you wish to try and emulate Levin in his search for inner peace and tranquility then you must go along to Stephen Park in Gisburn Forest on Sat 28th July at 10am when Littoral Arts will be training novices in the gentle art of scything at a Forest of Bowland AONB taster day. If you have a scythe and/or have done some before then you will be especially welcome and invited to talk about your experiences. (Who knows, you may end up starring in a film some day.) The weather will be fine and beards and plaits (but not on the same person) are welcome but not essential. Here's the full details of the event on a flyer. 

*On closer inspection, the film clip shows some peasants shuffling to keep in shot of the camera rather than striding into the task - nevertheless, a wonderful bit of cinema. 


Bowland flooded - no one notices, life goes on as normal
Mon, 16 Jul 2012 3:13pm

It is hard to think of anything else linking the communities of Mytholmroyd, Hebden Bridge, Todmorden and Darwen other than the misery caused by overnight flooding. If it was divine revenge on the excesses and immorality practised in the gilded domes of Mytholmroyd, the Hanging (organic) gardens of Todmorden and/or the bohemian outrages of Hebden Bridge where women wear tweed trousers in the daytime and even Satan himself would need an escort at night, then why in that case include Darwen in the deluge? Darwen whose only concession to frivolity is a Jazz and Blues festival weekend in August.

Much of Bowland was impassable or inaccessible from lunchtime onwards yesterday but the news travels slowly from there. 

(Photo: The mythical lost city of Salford recently discovered by a BBC film crew exploring the Manchester Ship Canal.)

Famous Belgian seeks riding partners
Thu, 14 Jun 2012 4:31pm

Bradley Wiggins, ‘Cycling superstar’ has always had some lovely things to say about the Forest of Bowland and this is not because he heard it from Julia Bradbury whilst watching TV. Bradley who was born in Gent (Gent is in Flanders the Dutch speaking* part of Belgium where they race on cobbles) of British parents and is based in Eccleston, Lancashire. He regularly trains in Bowland and offers the following description of his upcoming 160Km ride through Lancashire ‘ will pass through picturesque villages and farmland of the Ribble Valley, before climbing on to remote open moorland where you will be greeted with stunning views and a silence broken only by your exertions.’ That's such a good way to put it!

Bradley will cover daily stages of 200Km and more in 3 weeks covering 3,500Km in total at this year’s Tour de France starting in July so by the time he has completed that and the Olympics he will be ready for a grand day out back home with some friends! Bradley is inviting local riders along to launch the ‘Bradley Wiggins Foundation’ on 19th Aug. For details of this ride and a shorter 100Km version then check here.

One of the best websites to follow cycle racing on is Steephill - check it out and see Bradley's recent win in the Criterium du Daphine.  

*UK Coalition deputy PM Nick Clogg seen here speaking fluent Dutch!

(Photo above is of the most famous Belgian of all, Eddy Merckx - lots of photos of Bradley on the Steephill website).

Heroes of the Information Revolution found in b4rn
Thu, 24 May 2012 3:08pm

A barn is a unit of measurement. It was coined after some argument between particle physicists ended with the assertion that some microscopic area was 'as big as a ****** barn door'. I remember that but little else from some lecture in 1969 which probably explains why I'm not a particle physicist today.

Barn or rather B4RN also stands for Broadband for the Rural North, a not for profit Community Benefit Society established by people living in Bowland and the Lune Valley, with the aim of installing a fibre optic superfast broadband network. I'll quote from their own publication/prospectus 'It will be available to every property in our area; no exclusions because it’s too far away or it’s too difficult to reach. The aim is to initially connect properties across 8 parishes in 2012, with further parishes bein added in subsequent years. The network will be owned, managed and supported by members of our community, providing huge benefits to everyone. B4RN will be financed through a community share offer and through work-shares, You can either buy shares or earn them by carrying out work for B4RN e.g. burying fibre ducting across land.'

How simply ******** amazing is that? From Arkholme in the North to Overwyresdale in the South, from Quermore in the (Wild?) West to Tatham in the East people are planning to install their own broadband network in the face of a lack of interest from the people that do such things for a living/profit. You do wonder if a reduction in the advertising budgets for Sky, BT and Virgin Broadband would pay for more miles of network to places like Bowland. Usain Bolt has other talents (and income streams) to fall back on if he wasn't appearing in Virgin adverts. 

Hey, good luck and please succeed! Now you've read this go back and check the link to B4RN



Nutty moorhen
Mon, 30 Apr 2012 3:01pm


I'm not 100% sure that this moorhen, scoffing peanuts and the like, is not a stuffed one that has been affixed to the fence with a nail. However, my source assures me that he took the photo himself and it is from Chipping where anything is possible. I've been waiting for a suitable time to use this photo but can't wait forever so I think we need to look on it as a dire warning of what happens when we ignore climate change issues and allow newspaper owners and politicians to meet without a chaperone. 



Friends find frightened fiends in Newton woodland
Sun, 22 Apr 2012 9:46am

Geoff Morries thought that the number of self set ash tree seedlings in Newton community woodland pointed to the lack of small mammals nibbling through them. Perhaps local cats were to blame! On Friday evening as the sun was setting, a small group led by Dr Tim Graham of the WLT and Lancs and Grt Manch Small Mammals Group set a dozen 'Longworth traps' with bedding and supper to see what small mammals might be scuttling around after dark. On Saturday morning, Tim explained that a frightened mouse might well bite and/or wee on us as he carefully examined the traps that had been sprung! There were 2 wood mice which pleased us. The volunteers who set the traps were all members of the newly formed Friends of Bowland group.

We hope to return in the future with more traps and other devices to record the wildlife there. Details will be posted on the Friends of Bowland page. In the meantime, keep your cats under control, don't set any traps unless you have been trained and are allowed to do it. Now wash your hands! 





Landscape for life

Forest of Bowland

Virgin Holidays Responsible Tourism Awards