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

Postponed! - Ashes, brambles and pruning - don't be soft, come and join in!
Fri, 26 Nov 2010 12:29pm

The weather forecast is dire for Wed 1st Dec but being optimistic, it might be wrong and we might have won the first Ashes test by then which will give us a nice warm glow. There's a farm just outside Chipping where BTCV and I and Steve Edwards from the Lancashire Apples project are going to be working - dragging out some brambles, cutting back some trees and expertly pruning some apple trees under Steve's expert guidance. If you are up for a challenge which may include reducing brambles to ahes then call me on 01200 448000 or email me on martin [dot] charlesworth [at] lancashire [dot] gov [dot] uk for detailed directions. Tools, training and protective gear is all provided but best dress like a tramp prepared for a night out in the cold!


Update Wed 1st Dec - Who's too soft now? I am! We'll look for a better weather forecast and try again in a few weeks. Sorry.

Lies, Damned Lies, Statistics, Maps, Photos and the Forest
Fri, 12 Nov 2010 8:29am












My wife's grandmother Mille Robinson, who lived for a while at the New Inn Dalehead, sent and received a lot of post cards and those she received are all in a bundle now. Here's one (taken around 1920?) showing Whelpstone Crags before Stocks reservoir was built and before the Forestry Commission was invited by the Fylde Water Board to become the tenant and plant Gisburn Forest.

Looking at a modern map of Gisburn Forest you don't see that the land used to be dotted with farms and barns, you don't see the history, you just see the symbols of a plantation. There is no 'open access', there are a few footpaths (rights of way) and some forest roads (not designated as rights of way) and that's that! The reality is somewhat different, however, and the map is a lie! The place is not just a plantation, there are areas of beautiful deciduous trees, there are clearings and areas carpeted with orchids and other wild flowers designated Biological Heritage Sites. And far from being an area of limited access, the Forest easily absorbs hundreds of people every week who go there to walk on the many paths and cycle on tracks and mountain bike trails and ride horses on the many miles of tracks that the Forestry Commission have created and allow people to use. It is used by youth groups for map reading and navigation, it is used by volunteers on 'Conservation holidays' rebuilding dry stone walls and laying hedges - I could go on! It is easily big enough to get thoroughly lost in and interesting enough to find something new each time you visit - a great place!

I only mention this because the Forestry Commission and what it does is under review - no different to Natural England and us and lots of other organisations. Do the maps, stats and photos even tell the whole story? No! So if you get chance to contribute to the debate on changes in the countryside, tell it how it is or better still still how you would like it to be.

Visitors from Aurland (Norway), protected areas, farming, tourism and a bit of Zeppelin
Sun, 24 Oct 2010 10:50am

Like most homes, Browsholme Hall has a place where you just put things down as you come in the door and then forget about until visitors come around and you then find yourself explaining why you've got half a bicycle propped up there or a broken spade. And so it was that Robert Parker explained yesterday to 32 Norwegians that a relative had brought home a piece of Zeppelin during the 1st WW fully intending to make a fireguard out of it but had got distracted and's still there.

The 32 Norwegians, a mix of local Mayors, Councillors, academics etc were from Aurland and all interested in developing their localities as protected areas. We took them to see John Alpe, farmer at Whitewell to hear about his organic farm and environmental stewardship. They visited Bolton by Bowland to see a conservation area in a protected area. They ate some local food and had long talks with us about tourism, consrvation and how things work; and we also took them to see Browsholme. We wish the weather had been better but the company could not have been beaten!

Titanic rescue effort at Wyresdale Park Saturday, all hands on deck!
Wed, 13 Oct 2010 8:20am

Following on from the phenomenal film successes of Gosford Park, Jurassic Park, Mansfield Park, Regents Park and Green Park* etc , Channel 4 will be filming it's own contribution to the Park genre at the Open Day at Wyresdale Park, Scorton on Saturday from noon to 4pm. Channel 4s 'Country House Rescue' programme, which I haven't dared to watch, features Ruth Watson a feisty sort of 'no nonsense', 'get straight to the heart of the matter' gal who seizes upon hapless folk who happen to have a Country House in need of 'rescuing' and gives them a stern talking to! (This is all hearsay and I advise you to make your own assessment!). I rounded up some volunteers last month to help at Wyresdale Park and the TV cameras were there but not the formidable Ruth Watson. I plan to arrive late when her sting has been drawn, but I encourage you all to get there early and enjoy the homemade food and refreshments....but most of all have a look at the splended house and gardens which are being opened to the public for the first time since it was built in 1865. Be part of living history! 

Follow the signs from the centre of Scorton village.

*Are these last 2 films or tube stations?


The Lord of Facebook
Mon, 4 Oct 2010 4:38pm

The camera-shy 16th Lord of Bowland has politely declined our invitation to unveil a road sign in Dunsop Bridge in the near future.  However, we now learn that William Bowland has launched a page on the social networking site Facebook “to provide a forum and a meeting place for all those who bear the name Bowland and who seek membership of or association with the ancient House of Bowland”. To date, almost 200 Bowlands from around the world have signed up and the site has more than 130 links, ranging from the Newton-in-Bowland Appreciation Society to the local gliding club.  Predictably, there is not a single photograph of him anywhere on the site. 

I do wonder if this is the sort of thing Bowland folk expect.  Surely, the whole point about feudal lords is that they should entertain.  What ever happened to the old quill and ink, my lord?  

Portrait of a Master Forester
Mon, 4 Oct 2010 4:23pm


William Bowland tells the story of how a medieval knight helped create the modern-day hamlet of Whitewell and how the Inn at Whitewell owes its origins to a battle in fourteenth-century Spain.

Read about it here on the page devoted to the Lordship of Bowland in the 'Discovering' section of this website.


Further evidence of French interference in English affairs?
Fri, 24 Sep 2010 12:24pm

Not only have the French dared to insinuate that Gisburn, or as they would have it 'Jeezburn', lacks Gallic passion (see previous post), they also lay claim to the apple that caused Issac Newton to think that the force of gravity exerted its effect over long distances. I note that the supposed apple is of the variety 'Flower of Kent'. Kent is so close to Calais nowadays that it may as well be part of France, so it must be true - tant pis!

Don't despair though, a festival of truly English apples is to be held on Saturday 2nd October at Knowle Green (Knowle Verte) village hall. This elegant poster has all the details. The wonderful organisation Common Ground (Le terrain d'entente) inspires people to cherish and preserve local distinctiveness and they 'invented' Apple (Pomme) days over 20 years ago and although Bowland (Terre de bow) is late in coming to the party, we intend to make up for le temps perdu (lost time). We hope to be serving cider rather than entente cordiale - provided I get the licence.

And a last word about the Flower of Kent - 'It is pear-shaped, mealy, and sub-acid, and of generally poor quality by today's standards.' Ha!



Peregine, Helicopter and Larry the lapwing, battle it out in Bowland bike drama
Mon, 20 Sep 2010 10:11am

The Tour of Britain swept through Whitewell to Dunsop Bridge and then up over the Trough passing Larry, the RSPBs huge inflatable lapwing tethered outside Thorneyholme school, 'An Outstanding school in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty'.

I sent the TV company and the Tour organisers the full works about the AONB, ground nesting birds and Thorneyholme school, but the coverage was just about the bikes and the rain. It's just a bike race for goodness sake! What about the context? They could learn form the Tour de France in my opinion which showcases the delights of France with a few bikes thrown in for added colour*. 

Pictured left is a giant Peregrine Falcon made up of 70 tiles laid out in the school field. The helicopter hovered overhead for a couple of minutes but was eventually scared away.

*Whilst we are talking about France, I am less convinced that Gisburn (or Jeezburn as the man in the car advert has it) has something to learn from the French (have you seen Renault's advert - Can a car change a town?). Perhaps Jeezburn could redesign my Renault Modus so that changing a lightbulb does not involve dropping the front of the car?


THE LORD AND THE PREACHER - Visit a forgotten corner of Newton’s history
Tue, 7 Sep 2010 3:14pm



Newton’s Independent Chapel stands on the site of a much earlier chapel associated with a notorious ancestor of the 16th Lord of Bowland. Read THE LORD AND THE PREACHER to visit this forgotten corner of Newton’s history.

Science will solve all of our problems.....
Sat, 7 Aug 2010 9:43pm


Poster celebrating the first woman cosmonaut


Unless the scientists get distracted....


Strange pictures from the Guardian. Two different stories but I liked the thought of putting them together. 

Landscape for life

Forest of Bowland

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