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

Michael Henchard's ghost?
Fri, 14 May 2010 7:33am

Psalm 109 is a bit too much for most people nowadays, with lines like 'Let his days be few; and let another take his office. Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow. Let his children be continually vagabonds, and beg: let them seek their bread also out of their desolate places', so why did I think of that last night when I heard a beast bellowing in the darkness of Tosside late last night? I first heard it sung by the Mellstock band in a radio adaptation of 'The Mayor of Casterbridge' by Thomas Hardy and the band were playing at Tosside village hall; another Spot On Rural Touring performance that was too good to miss. Their performance last night was 'The Shepherd's Calendar - Merrymaking and Courtship through the Country Year' and contained much lighter Hardy material that had the audience smiling and tapping their feet even though most of the feet had long since ceased to dance. A great night but a shiver ran up my spine as we left in pitch darkness. 

Bowland: the rise and decline, abandonment and revival of a medieval Lordship
Mon, 10 May 2010 9:46am

I am pleased to say that the full story of how the Lordship of Bowland was lost and found, and much more, is now published and can be seen as a pdf elsewhere on this website. Settle down for a good read! Here's the link to our Lordship of Bowland page - then select the 'History of the Lordship of Bowland' link near the bottom of the page.

Tastier than grass
Wed, 5 May 2010 10:06am

Here's what happens to your pansies when your back is turned. Recipe suggestions welcome.

Norway calling - please hold the line
Tue, 27 Apr 2010 7:13pm

I was delighted to receive an email today from friends in Norway who came to visit us 2 years ago. They are planning to come over in the autumn. We will enjoy planning a visit for them. Last year we had a group of Norwegians from Hordaland area over for 4 days. They claimed that it was wetter in Bergen than in Bowland and I said that they were wrong; I forget who was right but we both had record snow falls this winter. We all appeared on Radio Lancashire and had just a great time and we only saw a tenth of Bowland! I think the best point was when we were in Tosside village hall and had pies from Roy Porters with new potatoes followed by a selection of Lancashire cheeses and crusty bread. One of our guests said to me with reverence that he had eaten very well on the trip; he mentioned the Hotel and restaurants that we had taken them to, but he said that the best meal was the pies! It was  a truly memorable visit and I must devote a page or two of the main website to Norway. The reason we have had these visitors is quite a serious one and one central to our AONB, and it is 'How do you reconcile the conflicting demanfds of tourism, farming, business and conservation?'

I knew that Norwegians used to come over to our shores in ancient times but I never realised that there were so many place names of Norwegian origin until I studied the OS maps of the area - Goosnargh and Grismsargh of course but there are also many Laithes (barn), Becks (streams) not forgetting getting 'rigged' or 'rig welted'. And Erik the Red discovered America...according to the saga that I read. 

Spot on rural touring
Mon, 26 Apr 2010 4:02pm

For several years, I've been entertained by musicians appearing in village halls courtesy of Lancashire's Spot On rural touring programme. My favourite until yesterday was the world class boogie woogie pianist Bob Hall who appeared in Sabden village hall. Bob used to be a banker until made redundant and it is obvious that the global economy would have fared better in the past few years if more merchant bankers had joined him.

Yesterday, I saw the New Rope String Band at Whalley village hall and I can honestly say that I've never seen anything so bizarre in all my life. Mere words cannot convey the spectacle so watch the trailer to get just a hint of it. You've missed them for this year but check out the remaining acts at the Spot On website.

Threat to landscape and wildlife in the Tatras - please read, because there is no Planet B
Fri, 23 Apr 2010 10:06pm

I heard about this petition earlier in the week direct from a friend in Slovakia. I've been to Slovakia twice; once as a conservation volunteer uprooting Acacia trees with BTCV in the little Carpathians near Bratislava and then a couple of years ago to the Ipel river floodplain on the Hungarian border. We were told about forests where no one was allowed; no foresters and no hunters, where nature was allowed free rein with no interference at all. When we heard about this we (British people) talked about the movement for Open Access and our hosts explained that of course people had a right to roam over many areas but there should be areas where all human activity was forbidden - and in one case, the Ranger wore a gun to emphasise his powers to enforce this! They were obviously proud of these areas of non intervention and rightly so.

I hesitate to say how other countries should manage their affairs but if you treasure the remote areas of Bowland and would hate to see them developed  then take a minute to read about the High Tatras and see the pictures of landscape and wildlife under threat there. If you agree with the petition then please sign it. I was reminded of the petition by Don McKay, head of our AONB, who has been contacted by colleagues in Europarc (and we were the first protected area in England to be awarded the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism). I am reminded that there is 'no central bank for the environment where mistakes can be rectified' (I'll try and find the reference). As Europarc succinctly puts it, 'There is no planet B'. And here's the link to the petition again; please read it and if you agree, complete the form and send it.

Stranger than fiction
Mon, 19 Apr 2010 11:43am

Hot off the press today news that a young writer named Emily Mahoney is planning a historical novel set in the Forest of Bowland of the 1760s.  One of her main characters is likely to be the 4th Earl of Cardigan, the last Montagu Lord of Bowland before the title was acquired by the Buccleuch clan in the late eighteenth century. 
It seems the idea for the novel first came to Emily after she heard all the kerfuffle surrounding the arrival of our new Lord of Bowland, the 16th, late last year.  
Stranger than fiction, if you ask me.  What next "Bowland,The Movie"? 

Volcano chaos fails to halt Newton community woodland task
Wed, 14 Apr 2010 5:58pm

Volunteers from Newton (and one from Preston!) gave up a few hours on Sunday to improve Bright's wood in Newton. There were some massively overgrown privets that were cut down and some small trees and branches that were removed in order to bring in more light. Hazels were planted which in future years can be regularly cut/coppiced for firewood and garden sticks. There's some chainsaw work and chipping still to do but the 10 people who were there (including a couple of children) can be proud of what they did. As we worked I saw someone with a camera and tripod packing the gear back into his car. I asked who he was (if you don't ask you don't find out) and it was Andy Latham, Landscape Photographer. He's recently published a book on the Ribble and was persuaded to take a few of the task. Check the links to see pictures of the historic Hoffman limekiln in Yorkshire  and the strange humps in Moor Piece. Andy does work with the Wildlife Trust and promises a book on Bowland all being well.

Foz from Preston has walked all over Bowland and was asking me about Langden Castle. Does anyone know the origin of the name and it's purpose? Some references on the internet suggest that it was a stopover for prisoners on their way to trial in Lancaster.

It was good to see the Parkers Arms doing a roaring trade to people dressed mainly in Lycra. (Cyclists in case you were wondering). The beer was flying from the pump as AJ singlehandedly explained that his other helper behind the bar was stranded in Germany courtesy of Eyjafjallajoekull.

Cat and Rat Festival workshops - Sat 8th May Hornby
Wed, 14 Apr 2010 4:00pm

Make a willow rat or cat for your house or garden or make a costume for the festival parade. Sounds fun to me! Click on the link for a copy of the poster and further details. I'll move details to events as soon as I can and there'll be more on the festival soon. Don't forget to check back. (Cat and rat symbols are carved into the stone pillars on the castle entrance gates in Hornby and there's also a cat and rat fountain - more history soon.) 

Raptor flight path?
Tue, 13 Apr 2010 3:04pm

Bird sources* tell me that Bowland is being overun by raptors this last week. A White tailed Eagle was seen over Burn moor on Saturday morning; later at Leighton Moss and later still at Haweswater. On Monday lunchtime, an immature Golden Eagle was seen over Langden valley. Unconfirmed rumours are that UU are economising on inspection flights over the Haweswater aqueduct, normally conducted by helicopter. I suppose these rumours will remain unconfirmed but I thought I'd pass them on. Other raptors that have flown past are a Red Kite and an Osprey. Gavin Thomas (pictured right) assures me that these sightings are reliable.

*Other bird sauces according to Gavin Thomas of the RSPB are Duck a l'orange, Pheasant and red wine and Turkey with cranberries.

There is a really excellent Bowland wildlife blog here and there's a link on that site to the Lancashire wide wildlife blog.

Landscape for life

Forest of Bowland

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