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

The essential difference between caramelised and burnt with particular reference to Orleans teenagers and apples
Sun, 16 Oct 2011 3:01pm

The Maid of Orleans (age 19) was famously burnt at the stake by the English in 1431 whereas Paul Heathcote, award winning chef, merely caramelised another proud product of Orleans yesterday in glorious sunshine outside Knowle Green village hall. Paul's 'apple challenge' was to use an Orlean's Reinette apple grown by Ribchester apple enthusiast Peter Knowles in the preparation of a mouthwatering dish. Paul's recipes can be found in his compact yet comprehensive book 'Heathcote's at Home' which he subtly promoted throughout his tour de force as Goosnargh duck sizzled on the single hotplate. (Gavin Thomas, our local RSPB man whose crusade on behalf of distressed lapwings has been detailed elsewhere on this site arrived too late to save this particular bird).

The real stars of the Apple Day, Festival Bowland event, were the apples of course - all grown within 5 miles of Knowle Green by Mrs Margaret Cartwright of Hurst Green, Mrs Ballard of Chipping, Mike and Elizabeth Pearson of Hothersall, Mike Farnworth, Peter Knowles and John Hilton all of Ribchester. Apples were inspected and pressed, juice and cider were drunk, sausages and cakes were eaten and arts and crafts were admired and the roll call of people who made the day special is as follows -

Apple identification, expert advice and display of old apple varieties - Steve Edwards and Phil Rainford

Cakes and biscuits - Pendle Pat a Cakes

Jams, Chutney and Honey - Farmer's wife Homemade preserves

Painted glassware - Margaret Stead

Local historian/researcher and cheese making chronicler - Margaret Panikkar

Apple press owners, suppliers of apple juice to Paul Heathcote and hecklers from the left side of the audience - John and Clare Hyde

Ribble Valley's Cider makers - Dove Syke Cider

Sausages by Roy Porter of Chatburn

Trugs and wooden things by Billy The Trug (aka Bill Sanders)

Belgian chocolate covered apples

Lucy Hunt looking after children and making incredible insects from balloons and wooly apples

Many home bakers and helpers and once again

Paul Heathcote (MBE)

and not forgetting a final mention for

Joan of Arc (Saint)

Lord of Marketing
Wed, 5 Oct 2011 11:05am

Our old chum William Bowland, 16th Lord of Bowland, put on a sterling show when he delivered a public lecture at Browsholme Hall on Tuesday evening. His erudite lecture on the history of the Lordship of Bowland took place on the occasion of the formal swearing in of Clitheroe land agent Michael Parkinson as Chief Steward of the Forest of Bowland, the first such steward since the 1922. Proceeds from the evening went to the Slaidburn Archive to support its work recording and preserving Hodder Valley history.

To their evident surprise, William told rapt listeners: “The future matters more than the past. My lordship may date back a thousand years but today, my job as Lord of Bowland is to provide a marketing opportunity. Let’s celebrate the Lordship of Bowland as a part of our heritage just as we might celebrate an historic landscape or a beautiful building. Let’s use it to help protect, preserve and promote Bowland in all its uniqueness. The 16th Lord of Bowland should be regarded as just another feature of our wonderful Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, no more, no less”.

Is this really what we expect from an overlord? Whatever happened to good old-fashioned pomp and ceremony? Once upon a time, you could always depend on a feudal grandee to wear a silly hat. Alas, it seems, no more ...

I took Margaret Panikkar (local historian, renowned cheese making expert etc etc) along last night and we were 'shushed' twice for whispering by a member of the audience who was hanging on every word. I expected withering questions from the audience but William dealt with them all deftly. One lady asked if Sir Walter Urswick (pronounced Werswick) might have anything to do with the village of Worswick. 'Almost certainly' was the reply to that! There was a pause and then another lady asked in serious tones 'What about my rights?'. At last something controversial! Unfortunately this was not some latter day Flora Poste and if there was 'something nasty in the woodshed' we still don't know what it is. The lady was actually enquiring about mineral rights in Grindleton and after a quick check with Michael, William confirmed that they were probably held by the Assheton family. A thoroughly entertaining evening.

VWs save the day in Germany and Bowland
Sat, 17 Sep 2011 8:34am

It was my last night under canvas as they say (in truth, I was under nylon) in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern province of Germany on Monday. Too late I realised that I had bought a bottle  with a cork rather than screw cap. I gingerly approached the couple dozing in the late afternoon sun seated under the awning of their pristine caravan behind a table with half empty bottle and wine goblets, 'Haben Zie ein corkscrew, bitte?' I asked, making an unambiguous screwing gesture with my right hand. 'Ein Korkenzieher!' (a cork puller) the startled woman exclaimed correcting me whilst her partner went inside to retrieve one. I half expected him to return with a Bosch Ektrischekorkenziehermaschine but he returned with the VW equivalent - wooden handle and a pigs tail of steel - which did the job equally well.

Having returned from the land of the VW, I spent last night inside 'Joni', comedian Laura Mugridge's bay window VW camper parked outside the Parker's Arms in Newton watching, and participating in, her performance of 'Running on Air'. This is their own story of mechanical and personal breakdown where many tears are shed. All ends happily when hearts and fanbelts are mended after the audience of 5 take part in a musical interlude that lifts the curse that caused Joni to break down in the first place. An enchanting piece of theatre performed entirely inside a VW camper! 

SpotOn Lancashire helped bring Joni and Laura, who take their audience from Edinburgh to Lands End in the course of the evening, to Newton-in-Bowland. 

Archaeologists, Cadillacs and stiletto heels in Whitewell
Fri, 26 Aug 2011 3:56pm

What sounded like the crackle of small arms fire turned out to be the swift entrance of two blue bridesmaids in stiletto heels across the stone flagged floor of the Inn at Whitewell. Moments later a gloriously vulgar Cadillac, all fins and fenders, glided to a halt and disgorged the blushing bride. Dark suits and sparkling dresses converged - we were leaving as the party was beginning. 

Whilst this little scene unfolded yesterday afternoon, a mile away at New Laund Farm, archaeologists from UCLAN under the supervision of Dr Rick Peterson were dressed in hard hats, jeans and boots.  They are spending  4 weeks there meticulously scraping, washing, sieving and cataloging finds as they dig deeper into their chosen sites. Rick explained to us that limestone knolls above Whitewell are riddled with caves that would have been attractive shelters for early man. Rick says that the 'hunter gatherer' lifestyle of early man may have changed to that of farmer with the help of cave shelters in this transition phase. His aim was to excavate undisturbed sites and look for evidence of human habitation - human bones and/or artefacts. Yesterday he was delighted that they had found not only flints (that must have been carried there by man) but also a fragment of human bone. Yesterday was a sublimely warm, sunny day as 16 of us heard from Rick and his team about their choice of sites, their research techniques and finds.  Our host and farmer John Alpe, who asked the most questions of all, interleaved all this the talk of archaeology with explanations of farming, food and wildlife and his views on the rural economy and local government. At the outset he had planned to go to Gisburn market but he was still with us at the end having sent his Dad to sell the cattle!

In several thousand years time will there be any evidence of the event that took place at the Inn yesterday? The Cadillac, suits and dresses already have vanished so what might be left at some distant point in the future? Perhaps a hair grip that was lost and became wedged between the cobbles outside, perhaps a fragment of wine glass retrieved from the River Hodder or perhaps archaeologists will expose stone flags buried under leaf mould and rubble and surmise that surface abrasions could have been made by footwear fashionable at the time in the primitive refreshment shelter by the river.

Rick will publish a summary of their investigations in the autumn and we will post that elsewhere on the website. 

News International - A personal apology
Wed, 20 Jul 2011 8:08am

I had particular sympathy for Rupert, James and Rebekah yesterday when I saw them on TV. Who among us has not stretched the truth when striving to entertain and delight our readership? Well I know they haven't (they either can't remember or it was someone else) but I certainly have! When I posted my blog article on 1st April, about the intended annexation of Bowland by Scotland in the 1960s - a deliberate falsehood - a News International journalist emailed me to check the facts of the potential scoop. He did notice shortly afterwards that maybe the story was an April Fool joke and no headlines in the national press followed.

I am grateful that I was not reported to the Met and subjected to lengthy TV interviews interspersed with custard pie throwing so I feel it my duty now to confess, apologise and make a clean breast of the whole thing.



Tomorrow in Martin's Blog - coverage of the conflict between North and South Utsire by our fearless Foreign correspondent, Dr Hackenbush 

Ewan MacColl, Julia Bradbury and Betty all absent but remembered on the walk
Mon, 4 Jul 2011 8:53am

On Saturday, a Festival Bowland event rambled over from Abbeystead to Tarnbrook to admire and account for the beautiful SSSI hay meadows there. On the way we met a man from Manchester who said that he just liked to escape from the city when the weather was fine and Bowland was a favourite destination. 

The words of Ewan MacColl's Manchester Rambler (albeit written about Kinder Scout, Derbyshire) came to mind 

So I'll walk where I will over mountain and hill
And I'll lie where the bracken is deep
I belong to the mountains, the clear running fountains
Where the grey rocks lie ragged and steep
I've seen the white hare in the gullys
And the curlew fly high overhead
And sooner than part from the mountains
I think I would rather be dead.
Ch:     I'm a rambler, I'm a rambler from Manchester way
        I get all me pleasure the hard moorland way
        I may be a wageslave on Monday
        But I am a free man on Sunday
Well, we got to talking and exchanging stories and he tagged along with the rest of us for the next 2 hours as Geoff Morries (local historian and ecologist) and Jon Hickling (ecologist working for Natural England) waxed lyrical about wildflowers and lamented the changes in farming and community that have turned Tarnbrook from a village of 20 families with a pub and a shop to a sparsely populated hamlet. We met a farmer who had lived there all his life, running newly sheared tups down the deserted, cobbled main street. We talked about the weather and prospects for haymaking as the sun burned down. Insects buzzed and clicked in the hay meadows and we arrived back at the magnificent Over Wyresdale parish hall woefully later than planned. I apologised at the outset of the walk for the absence of Julia Bradbury; explaining that we would have to make do with Jon and Geoff's 100 plus years of practical knowledge and experience of wildlife and ecology. In summary then, we got the first hand knowledge and experience but not the immaculate timekeeping and tight trousers. The feedback from the event will tell us whether this was an acceptable trade-off.
At the end of the walk we ate curd tart, orange syrup cake and slices of macaroon cake - all thanks to the 37th edition of 'Home Recipes with Be-Ro Flour' washed down with Twining's tea. Opinions differed as to whether this was 'Yorkshire curd tart' of Betty's quality but it disappeared without a trace. Next Saturday there is the last 'wildflower walk' this year at St Jame's Stocks in Bowland. Will you join us for tea, cake and conversation with wildflower backdrop? Call 01200 448000  
Good King Henry* visits Sawley and gives frank account of life and loves
Fri, 24 Jun 2011 6:09pm

One of the most instantly recognisable figures from history appeared in Sawley Abbey this afternoon and explained why he had ordered the dissolution of the monasteries and why he had variously married, annulled, divorced, discarded and/or decapitated so many women. In the end, he gained sympathy and respect from his modern day audience although his explanation that it was all down to domineering women in his formative years was too much of an easy Freudian excuse for my taste. The mighty Tudor has a comprehensive and well researched website which explains all (including hiring details) with no apologies. (He is the King after all and Kings don't need to apologise.)

As someone who dropped history at the first opportunity at school, I was ignorant about the rise of the Tudors and the 'Mergers and Acquisition' strategies employed by top european families in the middle ages. All of this was entertainingly explained by his majesty. If only my old history teacher had done this!

Festival Bowland events continue to amaze, entertain and educate - make sure you check this website for further Royal stories and future events.

*Good King Henry is also the name given to this edible plant - I forgot to ask him why.

Flying, snakes and thistles
Thu, 23 Jun 2011 9:34am

I was returning from Newton a few weeks ago to find a man with a very large holdall hitch hiking along the road to Dunsop Bridge. He seemed to be holding a sign saying 'Pilot - just landed' or something similar. A modern day Daedalus I thought to myself - ventured too near the burning sun and come tumbling to earth? Being naturally curious I thought I'd stop and ask him where he'd come from, where he had landed (he didn't know exactly) and where he was going etc and then write about it all! About a mile later, another youth with a large bag. Was this Icarus with a holdall stuffed with feathers? (A young woman in fact.) By the time I dropped them both at the foot of Parlick, I knew that they were from the Pennine Soaring Club and had set off some hours previously to see how far they could get. 'How do you navigate?' I asked. 'With Air Maps', they replied. 'What are they?', I asked. 'They are maps that you take up in the air!' was the simple answer to that. I had lots of other questions such as 'What happens if the map gets wet or blows away in the wind? Who steers while you try and set the compass? How do you eat sandwiches?' etc but the journey was too short. If someone from the Pennine Soaring Club wants to get in touch and explain then I would be delighted to devote further space to aerial navigation on a budget. 

 The reason I had been in Newton was to 'recce' a Festival Bowland walk round Newton with Geoff Morries, ecologist and local historian. The evening walk was a great success taking in Melancholy Thistles, Ragged Robin, Yellow Rattle, Eyebright, sandpipers, dippers and Dunnow Hall. The day had been filled with regular blustery showers but the sky brightened in the early evening and the sun came out just before setting to illuminate the Parkers Arms as we headed back towards Newton. The welcoming pub stood out just like the Potwell Inn in a scene from the film of History of Mr Polly as Polly takes in the idyllic setting of the fictional pub thinking that it would suit him nicely to stay and be the handy man and ferryman.

AJ greeted us like John Mills meeting the menacing Uncle Jim for the first time with a wary enquiry - 'So, you're back then?'. By the time we left a soft drizzle had set in and it was a dark night. 

Snakes are last on the menu and I am ashamed to say that this article in the Lancashire Telegraph escaped my notice. I am indebted to 'K' of Preston for brining this to my attention.

Here's an extract from the article -

"A PHOTOGRAPHER has published his labour of love after a four-year study of snakes slithering through the Trough of Bowland. Rodger McPhail has been spying on his fanged friends on a stretch of moorland at the beauty spot. The wildlife artist noticed the snakes four years ago while out trekking on the remote fells. He said he had taken countless pictures in total, a selection of which can be found in his book, The Private Life Of Adders. Photographs include their mating and fighting rituals, as well as photographs of them eating their prey."

Scary or what?


Our new Chief Steward of Bowland
Wed, 1 Jun 2011 3:36pm

There hasn't been one since 1922 but William, our indefatigable Lord of Bowland, has just announced that he's appointed a new Chief Steward of the Forest of Bowland. Michael Parkinson, a surveyor and land agent with Ingham & Yorke in Clitheroe, is the lucky man. He has worked in Bowland for over forty years advising a number of major local landowners. Michael, who recently retired as Steward of the Honor of Clitheroe but remains Steward to the Manor of Slaidburn, joins Bowbearer Robert Parker of Browsholme Hall as one of the two grand ceremonial officers of the Forest. 

In times past, the Chief Steward was known as a Master Forester and had his lodge at Whitewell. Former office holders have included a duke, sixteen knights, a baron and an earl. Sadly, Mr Parkinson will not be taking up residence in Whitewell any time soon (the lodge now being the Inn) but we are reliably informed he will be presented with sumptuous letters patent at some future point. Meanwhile, we have to give it to William Bowland. In the past two years, he has added colour to all our lives and stayed true to his promise: to promote Bowland by every means at his disposal.  Long may it continue!

Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse return Downham to the middle ages
Fri, 13 May 2011 12:50pm

As prophesied by 16th century French seer Nostradamus, the Four Horsemen of the apocalypse came to Downham last Friday*, turning milk sour,  wreaking destruction, removing road signs, satellite dishes and all evidence of the 21st century as they made their way to the village hall in the early evening. Sue Robinson of 'Spot On' (bringing arts to rural parts) claimed responsibility for invoking 'Barbershopera' and their event titled 'Apocalypse No!' to the stage at Downham. Unfortunately you have now missed award winning quartet Barbershopera in Bowland but their topical tribute to the recent Royal wedding may be viewed here

You may have been unforgiveably late for the Apocalypse but don't miss Sward (Yes, that is how you spell it), the story of a meadow. An unmissable event! 

Fri 13th May at Barnoldswick  01282 818250

Sat 14th May at Melling  015242 21233

Sun 15th May at Slaidburn  01200 446555

….brought to you by Bowland Arts Festival and Spot On…..

*Rumours that Slaidburn had also been visited by the 4 Horsemen were discounted by an anonymous resident who claimed that 'nothing has changed here and we would like it to stay that way' (sic)

 An apology. Martin Charlesworth has now left our employment following several recent complaints about misleading articles and a lengthy legal tribunal. 'Martin's blog' will continue however with regular guest contributors covering non controversial aspects of rural life - including religion,  politics, hunting, farming subsidies and the role of the monarchy. 

A further apology. The dates for the event 'Sward' listed above were wrongly recorded when the original blog was posted - they are now correct and the event has, of course, now passed.

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