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.

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Learn Turkish in 5 minutes
Wed, 7 Apr 2010 6:34pm

This and a mention for my blog are two uncontentious features in the latest issue of Hillam News, (parts 1 and 2). Hillam news is the voice of the people of Hillam and scourge of people in need of a thorough scourging. I have promised to send them a list of feisty suitors suitable for twinning. Any suggestions? Do twins really get on?

Another rabbit out of the feudal hat
Thu, 1 Apr 2010 2:50pm

It was only at the beginning of this week that I blogged about the Lord of Bowland.  Now, here I find myself again, reaching for my keyboard at the news that our mysterious lord has pulled yet another rabbit (an Easter bunny?) out of his feudal hat. This time it’s ancient rights being exercised. With astonishing flair, the Lord of Bowland has appointed not just a Bowbearer of the Forest of Bowland (the first since 1871) but also a Chief Steward (the first since 1922). 

I’m told that the lucky appointees are Robert Parker of Browsholme Hall – many of whose forebears were Bowbearers – and Charles Bowman, landlord of the Inn at Whitewell, whose gastro pub was once the ancient courthouse over which Lords of Bowland presided for more than six hundred years. Of course, you might argue what’s the point of having ancient rights if you don’t exercise them … 

That said, I doubt either Mr Parker or Mr Bowman will now find themselves groaning under the weight of the responsibilities newly entrusted to them. But then I don’t imagine, in any case, these appointments are really about guarding his Lordship’s vert and venison or stewarding Forest courts that haven’t been summoned for nigh on two hundred years. It seems to me that our Lord of Bowland, camera-shy though he may be, is in the business of creating colour.  And today, as a result of his actions, Bowland is a brighter, more cheerful, more colourful place.  

His Lordship, God bless him, has given us all an Easter present - he’s made us smile. Long may it continue!

More information on the Lordship of Bowland is posted on Discovering.

Somewhere over the rainbow.................
Wed, 31 Mar 2010 9:05pm


Conservation volunteers, dressed as Munchkins, worked through the night to erect 50 feet high white solar panels that spell out the name BOWLAND overlooking the lovely Trough of Bowland in the Forest of Bowland, Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. This witty and artistically challenging tribute to the endangered Hollywood hills sign is at the cutting edge of environmental sustainability providing under soil heating to increase the hatching success rate for ground nesting birds such as lapwings and penguins as well as promoting stronger regrowth of heather to attract grouse to the fells. At night the sign will glow sufficiently brightly to enable lost travellers and witches bound for Lancaster to find their way. All we need now is for Dorothy to sing 'Follow the Yellow Brick Road'…but friends of Dorothy say that she's gone back to Hollywood to get the wizard to mend the sign.

Bowland in Wonderland
Sun, 28 Mar 2010 6:55pm


Rumours have reached me that in the next few weeks a history will be published telling the untold story of the Lordship of Bowland.  I understand our elusive new Lord of Bowland – whose identity has been a source of much speculation in recent months - may well have had a hand in this venture which is being issued by that august body of scholars, the Cambridge University Heraldic & Genealogical Society.  

Among its vice-presidents, the Society boasts two of the Queen’s heralds, York and Somerset.  Its patron is no less a personage than His Grace The Duke of Norfolk, hereditary Earl Marshal of England.  The Earl Marshal will be familiar to aficionados of Royal protocol as the berobed, wand-wielding cove who walks backwards in front of the Sovereign at State ceremonials.  Such bizarre duties notwithstanding, the Earl Marshal is a force in the land:  responsible for the organisation of Coronations and State funerals and premier duke of England. 

It is pleasing to learn that our new Lord moves in such exalted circles.  Bowland can bask in the reflected glory and at last, locals have a means of identifying their feudal master.  

Just look out for a gentleman richly clad, more Alice in Wonderland than Bolton-by-Bowland, perambulating in a backward direction and it could be your lucky day ...

A copy of the history of the Lordship of Bowland will be posted on our website as soon as it becomes available.   A limited number of printed copies may be available on a first come, first served basis.

Signs of things to come?
Sat, 27 Mar 2010 3:57pm

I've been spending a bit of time recently trying to get some battered and ugly road signs replaced by prettier (and older style) ones. I would also like to get some signs that state the obvious removed in an attempt to 'declutter' our beautiful countryside. I would like some help with this so if you have any favourite candidates for removal, please let me know, I'll do my best! Just today, the BBC reports that ' The iconic Hollywood sign in Los Angeles faces demolition unless a conservation group raises $3m in three weeks to stop the site being developed.' Hmmm..I don't think we're going to contribute to that one then. 

How long before someone wants to erect a BOWLAND sign over the hills? 

At the crossroads of Europe - a short step from the Balkans
Thu, 25 Mar 2010 9:59pm

Dunsop Bridge has a phone box that is proclaimed to be at the centre of England. Like the very centre of a wheel, nothing too much seems to be happening in Bowland. The further away you get, the faster life gets. However, there are surreal moments when Bowland really does seem to be the place to be. This week for example, at short notice, a group from the Balkans arrived in a minibus; 3 from Kosovo, 2 from Serbia and one from Albania. They had been in the Yorkshire Dales National Park but came across to experience the unique atmosphere of the Dunsop valley. Dave Padley (Countryside Officer) talking above the rushing stream about mosses, peat and Eagle Owls and how news of the end of the great war (that had its roots in the Balkans) took six weeks to reach the end of the valley. As we walked through Gisburn Forest we talked about Kosovo and Belgrade. They are planning a peace park in the Balkans and were in one of the most peaceful places on earth; St James Churchyard, Stocks in Bowland. Surreal?

Famous Horses
Thu, 25 Mar 2010 1:02pm

PlaqueHere's the plaque that was unveiled by the Baroness Royall the other day.

There are many famous horses in history and fiction with their names inextricably linked to their partners.

Red Rum and Tommy Stack, Rosinante and Don Quixote, Copenhagen and The Duke of Wellington and Napoleon and Josephine* to name but 4.

Kettledrum's jockey was 'Bullock' it says on the print that hangs in our office. In Thorneyholme Church, Kettledrum can be seen if you look closely, surrounded by three butterflies. Are they significant? Let me know!

*Unless it was Marengo?

A very English event - no dead stoats or swords to be seen
Mon, 22 Mar 2010 10:10am

Last Thursday morning it looked as though the Duchy was preparing for a siege as my mother used to say, laden with shopping from Pontefract market. Sandwiches, salads, cakes and such like were being offloaded and arranged in the Kettledrum business unit here in Dunsop Bridge ready for the grand opening of the The Stables by the Rt Hon Baroness Royall of Blaisdon, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. The weather was traditional; blustery sunshine with showers threatening from the West. A bright introduction was made by The Lord Shuttleworth followed by a witty speech from The Baroness Royall congratulating those involved for our stylish (yet traditional), sheep wool insulated business units. I was slightly disappointed that the above cast of characters were not decorated with stoats and bearing swords but that would have been much too like the film of Anna Karenina and not at all how we do things here.



1000 trees planted in Yorkshire Airlines carbon offset scheme
Sat, 13 Mar 2010 10:36am

On Friday I was with several students from Burnley College, Mark a work experience student from Clitheroe Grammar, some other volunteers and the Ribble Catchment Conservation Trust planting trees near Ribchester. The trust has a very good website with lots of information on river ecology - check the link. As we worked, jokes were told by the Burnley lads and we all agreed that the best parody of Yorkshire folk and attitudes (and I should know) was the youtube clip of the fictional 'Yorkshire Airlines' - in flight catering of fish and chips and not 1st class or club class but 'Alan Bennett class'. Refresh your memories of this endearing stereotype by watching the clip. The trees (Ash, Alder, Hazel and Oak) were part of a scheme to stabilise the banks of the gravelly stream that joins the Ribble in Ribchester and nothing to do with 'Yorkshire Airlines' - but I liked the thought. In a few years the new wood will enhance the wildlife and biodiversity of the area and the riverside planting will help fish and invertebrates. The Trust has several other volunteer opportunities planned. If you want to know more then click here

Heroic cyclist!
Thu, 18 Feb 2010 12:41pm

ForksIan BishopOur first bus visitor was Chris Gathercole, from transition town Clitheroe – practising what he preaches on the B10 a few weeks ago. Our first biker was Ian Bishop a river engineer. He popped over from Lancaster this morning through snow and ice as if it were a commonplace thing to do. Our postman recognised the Dave Yates handbuilt frame and I said I would record the visit for posterity. Ian admitted that he had built the mudguards and front forks himself. 'Sometimes it's easier to make something yourself than do a drawing and get someone else to do it!' he said..............yes, sometimes it is.

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